Tech Marketers: Are You a Sales Informer or a Sales Enabler?
Pride – we are all guilty of it. We say to ourselves “Gee, look how great my marketing messaging is” or “This content asset is amazing – it is right on point and solves all of our audience’s problems”. We are proud of the work that we have created and we want to tell everyone about it. That is all well and good until you realize, nobody cares how great your marketing campaigns, assets, and messaging are. Especially not sales. Want to know what they care about? Results.
I know, it stings, but your job as a technology marketer is way different than it used to be. It used to be that you create great marketing programs, hand leads off to sales and move on to the next project. Not so much anymore. We have evolved into an era of shared accountability. That so-called “hand-off” now looks a lot more like a hand-in-hand stroll down the boardwalk at sunset. Sales should not be the only one who cares about results, but marketing teams should as well. To generate more success, it may be time to re-assess your strategy and make sure you are aligned with your sales teams and working towards a common goal.
Assess your strategy: Find out whether you are a sales informer or a sales enabler
Understanding whether you are a sales informer or a sales enabler requires you to take a deep look at what you are doing in 3 main areas: 1. Messaging, 2. Content, 3. Lead Management and Follow-up.
Messaging is an essential piece of the entire marketing and sales cycle. It provides the backbone of your marketing program and drives the perception that your brand has with your main customers and prospects. Would it surprise you to know that messaging is generally created by the marketing team with little to no input or involvement from sales leaders? Key message platforms and pillars are created, and then sales is (sometimes) informed what they are. Let’s think about this for a second. Marketing is charged with attracting, influencing, and engaging core customers and prospects, but rarely does marketing have direct conversations with these people the way salespeople do. Those conversations will go a lot better if sales is completely bought in to the messaging being developed and leveraged in programs.
Keeping messaging consistent throughout the buyer journey is not only a marketer’s job and marketers must acknowledge this. Present a unified front with audiences by evangelizing platforms with sales and providing them with education about how messaging and value proposition translates all the way down to product features, benefits, and implementation.
Raise your hand if you think that your sales team is not a good distribution channel for your content. I hope nobody is raising their hands right now, but I have a feeling that there may be a fair amount of hands in the air. Another question: how many marketers help sales understand how to use an asset rather than just telling them that it is available or that it is being used in campaigns?
Content helps feed pipelines and generates both inbound and outbound inquiries for your organization. There are many distribution channels for content that are primarily marketing-driven, but sales must also be empowered to share content directly with accounts and contacts within their territory. This is not possible without understanding what problem that content is solving and what type of situations that content piece should be used within. It is up to marketers to help their counterparts get answers to these questions but enable them to actively share content by developing copy they can use to engage customers through traditional or social channels.
Lead Management and follow-up
Technology marketers have long embodied the phrase “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” They led the horse there, now it is sales’ job to make the horse drink. That is very much an informer’s mentality, not an enabler’s mentality.
Let’s carry this analogy further for argument’s sake. Marketing has done a very good job of leading that horse to water, but once the horse has arrived, he is not drinking it. Why is that? Well, he is either not thirsty now, or just plain doesn’t like water. Sales is going to assume that the horse is looking for water and try to get him to drink it right then and there. When this doesn’t work, they move on to the next horse. But what if that horse wants something else to drink from you? What if the horse just recognized that he may need water, but isn’t ready to drink it yet?
It is no longer good enough to lead a horse to water, marketing must lead the horse in, read the horse the daily specials, take that horse’s and horse’s friends orders, and then bring sales in to figure out just how to prepare the drinks.
While we are obviously not dealing with horses in our business, there are certain things that sales needs to know about prospective buyers and their buying teams that will make follow up go more smoothly. The intelligence to know where they have been, what their preferences are, what they have done with you and competitors is critical to moving them from consideration to shortlist to sale.
If a marketer merely hands a name over to sales in a spreadsheet, they have informed sales of a potential opportunity, but they have done nothing to ensure that it becomes a a real opportunity for the business. It is up to them to enable sales by delivering the intelligence that provides background and context to that opportunity.
Where do you fall? Are you doing enough to enable sales or are you content to just be an informer?