Your traditional B2B sales team is stuck in the world of prospecting. They buy lists, call people out of the blue, and follow a prescribed approach to selling, or worse, a script. They pitch buyers who know nothing about the company’s product or service. There’s a comfort level in this approach because it’s what sales organizations have done for years.
The bad news for sales is: that’s not how B2B organizations buy anymore.
The New Sale
In our digital world, we expect to find answers. Immediately. If I want to know the weather I can ask my phone, my TV, my Amazon Echo, my Apple Watch, my Mac, and get the result instantly. Any barriers to information are now non-existent.
As basic information is getting easier to access, so is the more complex data that was traditionally controlled by sales. Buyers now expect to be able to thoroughly research solutions to problems. As such, the power in the sales process has shifted from the seller to the buyer.
B2B marketers and sales reps who “get it” are meeting those buyers early on in the sales process, when they’re researching. They use their website to offer helpful tools, research, and other resources. Their goal is to ease the friction from research to solution.
This new model creates an influx of earlier stage leads as buyers complete forms to access information. The problem is – most sales organizations don’t know what to do with this new type of web-orginated, early-stage lead. So, they ignore them or mishandle them. Sales teams are missing sales opportunities and leaving revenue on the table.
Web Leads Aren’t Qualified
As companies use their websites to open a dialogue with prospective customers, through lead generating offers and forms, they are also opening themselves up to the entire world. Anyone at all can fill out the form for your latest technical calculator. Therefore, your new “lead” could be a college student in Bangladesh writing a research paper.
So, marketing needs to be careful about which leads actually make it to the sales team. If marketing simply sends all web leads over to sales, they’re going to drown the sales team in a mix of leads who are not ready to buy or are just outright unqualified. What’s the fix?
Qualifying and Enabling
To effectively sell to this new set of leads, marketing and sales must work more closely together than ever. Marketing needs to understand which leads from the web are qualified for the sales team and why. Marketing then needs to set rules in place to appropriately qualify online leads. This is a formula learned from trial and error and continuous learning. And it’s only made possible through open feedback from sales.
With appropriate criteria, marketers can leverage automation tools and lead scoring logic to appropriately gauge sales readiness.
The Right Information at the Right Time
Marketers can also assist sales through Sales Asset Management (SAM). Some might say, why does marketing need to help sales organize their documents? Well, SAM is more than just organization. It’s a method for documenting the sales process of your top salespeople and creating optimized communication standards for the entire team.
Much like mapping the buyer’s journey, marketers should work with with sales to map the seller’s journey – understanding what content resonates with the buyer and supports the seller. Through a sales process analysis, marketers can create content that assists buyers throughout the sales process – building trust and moving them closer to a sale.
Early stage leads should be treated differently than the leads the sales team are used to calling on. They require nurturing and vetting. Fortunately, marketing automation tools take care of a lot of the heavy lifting.
There are several benefits to using marketing automation to deliver early stage content to buyers. A few of the main ones:
- sales doesn’t have to worry about spending time on “unqualified” leads
- marketers can test and learn from messaging via analytics
- marketers can identify when leads stall and create messaging and content to move them closer to a point of sale
- all communications and activity can be tracked and used for context in sales conversations
The rift between sales and marketing in modern organizations can be a complex challenge to solve. Often, marketers feel like they’re overstepping, getting so involved in the inner workings of the sales team and their processes.
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