The B2B sales funnel has changed considerably within recent years. In the old school days – marketing would generate leads, pass it over to sales and hope they close the deal. Without a proper sales and marketing alignment strategy, the organization creates silos among key cross functional teams, ultimately breeding failure.
Modern day B2B buyer behavior has changed to the point where marketing must support sales right through each stage of the sales cycle. As selling situations grow more complex, with an average of 5.4 stakeholders involved in any one deal, sales teams are relying on high quality, marketing-produced content to help them tell the story that resonates and closes deals.
KPIs: The Foundation of Sales and Marketing Alignment
Given these changes, it is imperative that sales and marketing work as one. To implement your sales and marketing alignment strategy, you should introduce shared goals or key performance indicators (KPIs).
What Are Sales KPIs?
Broadly speaking, a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company or employee is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use sales KPIs to evaluate both company and individual success at reaching targets.
Typically, this means aligning sales, marketing and operations. These 3 functions should share the same goals, KPIs and priorities. A proper sales and marketing alignment strategy can help these teams work together to make the entire sales process as smooth as possible.
In our view — and that of many progressive and fast growing companies — sales is marketing and marketing is sales. They are one, need to operate as one, and need to have shared KPIs.
Why Sales is Marketing
Sales is the delivery vehicle for marketing’s message. For a sales person at a B2B company, every sales situation is unique.
Think about all the different permutations:
Every time a rep — a good rep — gets in front of a client, they are pitching a slightly different story and value message based on the messaging and content that marketing has created.
The salesperson is really acting as a marketer in each and every single sales situation.
Why Marketing is Sales
The key purpose of marketing in B2B is supporting sales. In B2B, marketing is all about supporting sales, making it easier to sell, and helping the sales team close more business.
There are many ways that marketing does this from driving demand, to creating collateral to hosting conferences. Marketing has its fingerprints in every deal in the form of a generated lead, a piece of content that closed the deal, or a great campaign that brought the prospect to an event.
For new sales and marketing managers, KPIs can seem daunting. How can a manager institute all of the right policies, priorities and practices to ensure that her team are able to optimize their time? Where should she start? How can she measure success?
The Quickest Path to Closing Deals
Sales and marketing alignment can quickly falter if your sales team is spending too much time on the wrong opportunities.
In today’s data driven world it is common for reps to work on 20+ opportunities at once.
However, juggling lots of opportunities simultaneously means that reps often end up investing too much time on low-quality opportunities and not enough time on the opportunities they have a real shot of winning.
A bad habit appearing at many companies is to put reps in the unenviable position of trying to hit their quota by feverishly working through as many opportunities as they can.
But this isn’t necessarily the ideal solution. Data-driven sales teams are finding that it is usually more effective to spend more time on qualification earlier in a sales cycle in an effort to only deliver the best opportunities to highly paid account executives.
There are a number of ways to qualify an opportunity. Most B2B organizations use a combination of lead scoring methodologies and SDRs to the job done.
With better qualification, an account executive can devote the necessary time to the right opportunities. With poor qualification, AEs spread themselves too thin. They’ll invest time into low-quality opportunities that probably shouldn’t have been in their sales pipeline to begin with.
In addition to qualification, another way to understand the quickest path to closing is to learn from the best reps. What are top performing reps saying, doing, and using, that distinguishes themselves from the rest of the pack?
SiriusDecisions states that the number one problem for sales effectiveness is an “inability to convey their value proposition.”
Most B2B technology sales reps depend on quality content to communicate the value of their solutions with their customers. If sales reps are uncomfortable with the messaging, voice or layout of the material they are presenting, it’s highly likely they will adapt it to fit their style and selling situation.
Peter Ross at TechTarget says:
“This is not always a bad thing when it comes to developing powerful selling tools such as slide presentations, email bullets or call scripts. In fact, a lot of the most effective content is born in the field as opposed to a marketing lab because it needs to stand up to direct customer scrutiny and sales approval.”
Sales and Marketing Alignment Best Practices
As a sales and marketing manager, it’s critical to learn from the field. It’s even harder to take best practices and apply them across the entire team. Content, in particular, is one area sales and marketing teams must strive to work together on.
Marketing teams must be clear on what content is resonating with B2B buyers. Meanwhile, sales needs instant access to high quality marketing-produced content. If sales and marketing can work together to produce sales enablement content, you will improve your chances of closing deals.