Sales and Marketing. The two should go together like peas and carrots, but sometimes it tastes more like pickles and ice cream. This article outlines some of the common mishaps that can occur between even the best of sales and marketing teams, and what to do about them once they’re identified.
A brief word of caution – don’t assume these mistakes don’t occur in your own organization. Even the most finely tuned sales and marketing machine needs regular maintenance, and keeping these pitfalls top of mind may prevent it from going unchecked and falling into disrepair.
Over-Reliance on Inbound
We’ve all heard that “cold calling is dead,” and that customers are already 57% of the way through the buying process before engaging with vendors (this number varies significantly depending on the source, by the way). I totally understand that most salespeople would rather wait for a potential client to raise their hand than pound the pavement or work their way through the phone book, but there needs to be a balance. I’ve known far too many salespeople – not at my company, of course – who have used these statistics to justify the avoidance of good old fashioned WORK. You know, that thing that built America back in the day before all of these Millennials showed up and ruined it? The statistic I prefer to rely on is that the first vendor to the table usually wins, and as much as some reps may not like it, the best way to get invited to the party is to throw it yourself.
The solution: prioritize outbound activity – email campaigns, phone calls, and cultivating partner relationships are all great ways to supplement your inbound leads.
Spending too much Time on Social Media
Social Selling is all the rage these days. I myself have an impressive 96 Twitter followers at the time of writing this article, and 5 people “liked” or shared my last LinkedIn update. I still don’t have Facebook, but my wife does, so I have about 1,100 friends by proxy. As you can tell, I’m kind of a popular guy. The problem I have with social selling though, is that it’s not actually selling. It’s marketing. Marketing is absolutely critical to creating and sustaining growth, and any business person who tells you otherwise needs to re-evaluate their career aspirations, however marketing is not sales. If you don’t know what I mean by that, go pick out a member of your marketing team and ask them to close one of the leads they’ve assigned to you, or to manage the relationship with your most valuable client. It’s not going to happen, but if it does, move that person into sales. Their W2 will thank you for it.
The solution: be “social” for real. Conduct regular phone or face-to-face meetings, attend networking events, and get out there!
Not Coordinating Sales and Marketing Campaigns
It always amazes me how much time and effort goes into ensuring that Marketing’s message is crisp, concise, and thought provoking, and in contrast how little is spent ensuring that Sales can understand and articulate the keys points of that very same message. I personally believe that companies should strive for consistent messaging and execution throughout the buyer’s experience – from the moment they read that first piece of content to the time the sale is closed, and continuing on through client development. This is obviously much easier said than done, but when considering the benefits, I think it’s worth the added effort.
The solution: Marketing should regularly communicate upcoming campaigns, webinars, and industry events to Sales, and work collaboratively to create complimentary messaging around those activities.
Prevent Marketing Automation Gone Wrong
Shortly before writing this, I received a clearly automated email from a sales rep attempting to sell me access to a widely used contact database. The email began “Hi Dan Thompson! As Sales Director – U.S. East at Smarsh, you probably…” and after several paragraphs (which I admittedly did not read) concluded with the classic call to action “what does your schedule look like for a quick introductory call, tomorrow?” I simply replied “I’m wide open. You do realize that tomorrow is Saturday, right, Account Executive at [company I won’t name here]?” I never heard back from the sales rep. Perhaps they were embarrassed and decided to walk away rather than admit they just mail merged the details from my LinkedIn profile (no one talks or writes like that in the real world), but I think they just forgot to include my email address in their next .xls dump. The point being, people buy from people, not machines, so if you’re going to use automation, please do it wisely and add a human element.
The solution: get Sales involved to customize and create ownership on any communication that has their name on it. No one like to feel embarrassed.
Not Having a Feedback Loop
Knowledge is one of the most powerful competitive advantages to any business, but an alarming number of organizations and teams are still reluctant to share it. When you think about the number of customer interactions that occur every day between Sales, Marketing, and Sales Development (SDR) teams, there are just too many valuable data points to keep them all bottled up. This is even more important when considering that each of these teams play a different role in the sales process, and touch the customer at different points in the buyer’s journey. Sharing these data points and learning how to tailor your message accordingly is critical to ensuring alignment, breaking down silos, and staying ahead of the competition.
The solution: schedule regular meetings between Sales, Marketing, and your SDR teams, and encourage constant communication to break down silos.
And there you have it. A few simple ways to keep your peas from tasting like pickles. Unless, of course, you like pickles.