The problems affecting technology companies that operate silo’ed sales and marketing organizations are many and varied. The gulf between sales and marketing in these companies is a lonely place – a “no-mans land”.
It’s the land of failed products, unmet sales plans, weak or no inbound lead-flow, dead leads, failed campaigns, low conversion, deals that won't close and sundry other ills, the most disturbing being ex-customers. This gulf between sales and marketing exists in many companies, regardless of their maturity.
The division of labour between sales and marketing goes back to the era of buggy whips, where the only way of getting your products known widely was through advertising; - and the marketing department managed the budget and created the ads. The University of Pennsylvania offered the first marketing course in 1905, "The Marketing of Products”. There never has been an accredited University sales degree and perhaps this has been one of the wedges between the two organizations. This silo'ed arrangement may have been O.K. a century ago, but in the Internet Age it seems clunky and irrelevant.
Let's have some revision on the goals of these organizations in November 2009.
- Marketing’s Goal = Generate Leads (forget trying to build a brand – brand will happen if you are successful in generating leads)
- Sales' Goal = Convert Leads into customers
Now lets examine what’s going on in our marketplace.
The assimilation of the Internet has changed the way people behave and the way individuals and corporations buy, with over 74% of the US population and 52% of European population using the Internet. *(September 2009) www.internetworldstats.com.
The behavior of buyers today is very different from just 5 years ago due to the availability of competitor pricing, on-line demonstrations, product reviews, customer video testimonials and opinion expressed in blogs on the Internet with which to make informed decision.
The social media tornado driven by Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and the success of the iPhone and other IP-based mobile platforms is creating massive opportunity for new business and service models and an elevated customer service experience for those companies agile enough to exploit them. It also presents huge technical and operational challenges for many technology suppliers - and Mobile and broadband providers. The following two charts are from the insightful presentation by Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley at the Web 2.0 Conference in October this year. The whole report is worth downloading and reading.
To exploit the marketing opportunity provided by the Internet and rise to the challenge of Internet era buyers, I believe Sales and Marketing should be aligned under one leader with a single purpose and shared goals. We are all on the same team, the challenges we confront are behavioral and are the two sides of the same coin.
How well is your sales and marketing team aligned in the process of inbound lead generation, conversion, nurturing, qualifying and hand-off, or is your sales team still cold-calling to generate leads? How well prepared are you to handle enquiries from mobile traffic and to reach your customers through social media?
BIG Question: What is the average time for a lead = (a visitor to your Website who expresses interest in your offering and converts into a lead by giving you their name, email id and phone number) to be followed up by someone in your sales team?
In the 2007 Insidesales.com/MIT Lead Response Management Survey that focused on the question: When should companies call Web generated leads for optimal contact and qualification ratios?; the survey found that the odds of calling to qualify a lead decrease by over 6 times in the 1st hour and after 8 hours by more than a hundred-fold.
The survey examined 3 years of data across six companies that generate and respond to web leads, from over fifteen thousand leads and over one hundred thousand call attempts. This data may have been sourced from the financial services market, but there are interesting insights in this report for B2B and B2C technology sellers.
Where to from here? The following are three high priority activities that need to be undertaken in sequence in order to exploit the Internet marketing opportunity and to unite sales and marketing to win the new Internet enabled game.
1. Understand the buyer persona of key stakeholders in the buying process in your market and align sales and marketing messaging around how your products/services create value for those buyers. This is such a critical step in reaching your buyers, is relatively easy to do and creates a single buyer-relevant vocabuary for the whole company.
2. Implement a closed-loop Inbound Marketing process to reach buyers on the Internet, based on keywords and phrases they may be interested in, convert those visitors into leads, manage the lead incubation, conversion and hand-off process - if you don't have an efficient and integrated tool-set and process to do this today, we recommend and help clients implement the HubSpot Inbound Marketing platform.
3. Implement a sales skill development program underpinned by buyer-relevant sales tools to help the sales team engage, diagnose and qualify inbound leads around their issues and align sales process to convert opportunities into customers in the way your customers prefer to buy.