The sales and marketing communities have a historic enmity: marketing people think sellers don’t effectively use the data they gather, and sales folks think marketers give them bad leads. Marketing people are annoyed that sellers get paid so much when such a high percentage of sales don’t close and sales people think marketers are sending the wrong message to the wrong demographic.
But, while seemingly doing different jobs, they are really doing the same thing: finding and creating the environment for the right people to purchase the company solution. But as we know, there is great failure built in to both jobs: marketing has no idea who it is reaching, and sales only closes a small fraction of those who appear to need the solution.
The failures do not lie in the job descriptions, but in the sales and marketing skill sets: neither have the ability to go inside the buyer’s environment with the buyer during their meetings or discussions or planning sessions. Both sales and marketing are external – outside/in – and therefore have absolutely no idea what is truly going on behind-the-scenes, nor an ability to actually be there. They work with guesswork (good guesses, but guesses nonetheless) and hopes. Demographics provide good guesswork, recognition of need; relationship building and great solutions provide the hope. But at no point – no point – until the check has been sent (and cleared!), do sellers actually know which prospect will end up buying: All prospects seem like buyers….until they’re not.
CHANGE THE GOAL
Imagine if both groups could add another goal? Imagine if the over-riding belief was this:
until or unless buyers figure out how to recognize and manage all of the internal elements – relationships, politics, initiatives, vendors – that maintain their status quo and figure out how to change (buyers must go through some sort of ‘change management’ internally to mitigate the habitual activities that comprise the status quo) without disruption, they will buy nothing, do nothing different.
Both sales and marketing operate from the underlying belief of Build it and They Will Come: if we offer good data to the right people in the right way, find a ‘need’ we can target, and make our presentation or relationship trustworthy while differentiating ourselves from the competition, buyers should know to buy. But we all know that isn’t true or we’d make a lot more sales and buyers wouldn’t seem so ‘stupid.’ (See my latest book Dirty Little Secrets to understand exactly why, when, and how buyers buy.)
If sales and marketing professionals change their goal to actually helping buyers figure out HOW to buy, rather than WHY or WHAT to buy, they work together to create a plan that manages both ends of the sale.
For marketers: Maybe an ad that says
How will you know when it’s time to buy a luxury car? on a car ad. Or a set of facilitative questions on a site: What is stopping you from being as effective as you’d like? And what would you need to see from us to think we can help you?
When doing demographic testing, rather than pull data, find out what would cause a buyer to do something different (note that whatever they are doing is successful-enough or they would have changed it already). How will you know when it’s time to change to an X system? What will you need to be facing to consider making a change? Of course, marketing and surveys are often one-sided but it’s possible to shift the questions to help people think about change rather than give you data on their status quo.
For sales folks: Use the beginning of your conversations to help buyers elicit their change criteria. I’ve written extensively on this, so go back to my historic blog posts and books.
Once you’ve both figured out how and why to shift your job descriptions, sit down together and formulate an action plan. 1. what are the new goals? 2. what do buyers need to change internally before they will be willing/able to make a purchase? 3. how can sales and marketing act together to help buyers manage both ends of their buying decisions – first managing those pesky personal and political issues they must manage privately to get the buy-in to add something new, and then choosing the right solution.
Then you’ll be able to be more successful and sell more product. Not to mention that buyers will be happier knowning how to get what they need in the way they need it. You may have to change your site, your marketing materials (when I train Buying Facilitation™ my clients end up changing their marketing materials), or your pitch. But you’ll close more sales, faster. And you’ll work together.