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The Internet forever changed the way we buy and sell things, both in the B2C and B2B markets. The influx of choices and available information created a more informed customer base than ever before and empowered them to make their own purchases. As our digital world has accelerated, these changes have become more pronounced and upended the traditional linear buyer’s journey.
Buyers now bounce between different stages of the sales funnel, moving from research to direct interaction and vice versa. But many companies are still structured around the linear journey, even though their customers have long since strayed from that path. Companies must adjust their internal processes and departments to support this new buyer journey and empower demand generation efforts. They must unify their teams and strategies in every way.
The unification of sales and marketing has long been an important goal in business, but now it is a necessity. Both departments generate revenue for a company, but there is a long history of disjointed strategy and competition to overcome. Here are three ways to get these teams working together:
Related: 3 Ways A Unified Sales & Marketing Team Can Drive Demand Generation
1. Get everyone on the same page
For decades, sales and marketing have been treated as different functions and different departments, despite ultimately having the same central goal: to generate revenue. This separation has caused each to develop its own internal viewpoints, language and culture, and the resulting division drives a disjointed demand generation process that leaves benefits and revenue on the table.
There are several tools companies can use to bridge this communication gap. Specifically, a lead scoring system is a great way to foster a mutual understanding of where a lead is within the buyer’s journey. Members of both teams must share input, so the system is built collaboratively. This not only improves communication between departments, but also provides a better view of the buyer’s journey across the company.
Shared visibility is also important to get everyone on the same page. Traditionally, sales and marketing have kept their data separate with their own information and insights, all for the same prospects. Companies need to eliminate these data silos and combine all data into a single location. This reduces duplicate data and creates holistic visibility across the customer journey compared to a segmented view. This increased visibility enables teams to engage with prospects more meaningfully and serves as the foundation for more thoughtful and data-driven demand generation strategies.
Related: How to build alliances with sales and marketing for optimal results
2. Unite under the common goal of income
Department goals are critical to keeping teams on track, but they can drive division and reduce results when they become a team’s sole focus. Companies need to dismantle this single line of thinking and reinforce that marketing and sales operations work to support the company’s overall goal: revenue. The department’s goals should be seen as a function of achieving this rather than its own goals.
One way companies can support a common revenue goal is to establish a growth team. Comprised of both marketing and sales members, the growth team applies their breadth of experience to focus solely on the buyer’s perspective.
The growth team looks at the entire buyer’s journey rather than specific parts of the department. Their goal is to move customers through the buyer’s journey to revenue. Through this lens, they take the buyer’s perspective and learn what their challenges are, what knowledge they need to make a purchase, and what kind of interactions and experiences they’re looking for from sellers. With this information, department goals can be set to follow the buyer’s needs. For example, if the growth team finds that content plays a prominent role in the research phase of a purchase decision, that information could be used to inform marketing objectives around content creation.
To ensure that the growth team remains balanced and unbiased, it should answer to a growth officer. This leadership position is not aligned with sales or marketing and acts as an unbiased opinion ensuring all decisions are driven towards revenue.
Related: How to Strengthen Your Business by Aligning Sales and Marketing
3. Work together to keep leads engaged
The traditional sales funnel model is too rigid, it only allows buyers to move forward or not. While it may have been a selling point for decades, it doesn’t fit the behaviors of the modern digital shopper, and its continued use can waste company resources. Rather than forcing prospects to follow their model, marketing and sales functions must work together to alter their processes to mimic buyer behavior.
Start by defining the phases of the buyer’s journey to pinpoint where a customer is in the process. Once the phases are clearly defined, with input from both departments, the next step is the creation of service level agreements between departments. This helps sales and marketing determine where the customer needs to go and provides clear next steps. For example, companies can implement an SLA that recycles unresponsive or dead leads in marketing to place them in a one-to-many upper-funnel nurturing sequence in their marketing automation tool , instead of allowing them to cool. This keeps the opportunity active in the pipeline while keeping the company on top with continued nurturing efforts.
Today’s consumers are more informed and empowered than ever before. They are the ones who set the pace and direction of their path to purchase. The traditional segmented approach to the buyer’s journey will no longer produce the results companies need. Moving forward, companies must move beyond alignment and fully unify marketing and sales functions to address the buyer journey as a whole.