The success or failure of your business is closely linked to sales numbers, so naturally, you pay close attention to it. However, marketing is the fuel that powers sales, so without a great marketing team, you cannot have a great sales team.
Of course, the quality of your product/service/offering will make your sales and marketing team's life either easier or harder, but it doesn't change the core relationship between the two. Marketing is the fuel (lead generation) that the sales team cannot operate without.
In this post, we will demonstrate how marketing can have an enormous influence (positive or negative) on your sales.
Don't Waste Your Sales Team's Time With Dead-End Leads
"The more people we make aware of our company the better.". This is certainly not the case. Even when your main goal is to build awareness, your marketing has to target a specific segment (or type of customer) - not everyone.
Non-targeted awareness-building efforts typically result in poor quality leads. Consequently, your sales team will waste a lot of time chasing what can only be described as dead-end leads.
Your sales team should be spending most of their time converting qualified leads into customers, and not trying to turn non-buyers into buyers.
The success or failure of your awareness campaign should always be judged by the number of qualified leads you bring and not by the number of eyeballs (e.g. impressions, website visitors, etc.) it attracts.
Failing to understand this often results in tension between marketing and sales. Sales get frustrated by the quality of the leads, and marketing gets frustrated because sales are not capitalizing on the interest created, and all the leads funneled to them.
If you scratch underneath the surface you will quickly reveal why marketing does not deliver high-quality leads. For example, many marketing incentives and KPIs are structured around vanity metrics that don't help the sales team. Even worse, they end up wasting their time.
It is very tempting to throw around big numbers, especially when you are trying to show growth, and vanity metrics are usually the vehicle to do so. For example, website visits, number of downloads, number of likes, number of followers, and non-paying members - these are all vanity metrics.
If your traffic increases by a factor of 100, but not even one visit turns into a customer, then what have you really achieved?
Increasing vanity numbers for small businesses and startups is relatively easy if you widen the target group, but your job is not to do what's easy, it's to do what's right for your business. Too many marketing experts are hiding behind vanity numbers - this is why marketing sometimes gets a bad wrap.
We are not suggesting that you ignore all numbers that don't have a direct impact on sales, but these types of numbers should not drive your decision making. For example, you should focus on ‘active users' rather than registered users. Also, conversion numbers rather than visitor numbers.
Real actionable metrics have an impact on your bottom line, and vanity metrics typically do not.
In summary, vanity numbers will typically not help your sales team close more deals, so make sure your marketing team focuses on high-quality leads and not just numbers like website visits, number of downloads, number of likes, number of followers, etc.
Marketing (Not Sales) Create The First Impression
For many companies, content marketing is how customers first discover their product or service. For example- blog posts, social media posts, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc.
The importance of this first interaction (first impression) cannot be overstated. If your blog post demonstrates expertise, then you will come across as an expert. However, if your content comes across as generic, or lacking depth, that is how you will be perceived.
Creating a great first impression with your content will certainly make your sales team's job easier. If a potential customer is impressed by your online content, then your sales team doesn't have to waste time on generic conversations like "We are..." and "We serve x customers...". Instead, they can focus on the actual customer. For example, uncovering the problem the customer is trying to resolve, or an opportunity they are trying to take advantage of.
The more time your sales team has for customer-specific questions the better.
Your marketing efforts will largely determine if your sales team is spending time talking about your company (low-value conversation), or if they are diving into a specific customer need (high-value conversation).
The Hand-Off (Marketing to Sales)
One of the primary advantages of using digital marketing over traditional marketing is data. The amount of data you can collect and analyze is substantial, and more importantly, you can then pass this data to your sales team to help them close the sale.
Data is especially valuable in a complex sale, where multiple departments or decision-makers have to be involved.
If your marketing is only handing off contact information to your sales team then they are not doing enough. There is so much more they can do to prepare your sales team.
For example, where the lead came from, what type of content they consumed, which topics or products were they interested in, which organization they work for, the position they hold, and so on.
The more information you have on a prospective customer, the better you can prepare. Furthermore, you can spend more time on the customer's specific needs.
Lastly, the extent of data you can collect is only limited by your imagination, expertise, and budget. It is never limited by available data collecting and analytics technologies.
A poor lead generation funnel will derail a great sales team, and a poor sales team will derail a great marketing team. In other words, the two departments are closely interlinked, so if one team is underperforming the other team will too.
Growth is usually the result of marketing and sales working together toward a common goal, and their incentives and KPIs have to be aligned.
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