CEOs are grasping the increasing importance of the marketing team beyond brand and marcom activities. According to the research report by Stein IAS (Great Expectations: What CEOs Want from Marketing), 83% of CEOs see marketing’s importance increasing. 46% of CEOs see marketing’s importance ‘significantly’ increasing. Marketing’s role requires constant change combined with an agile approach that cannot be underestimated.
You already know that the evolved buyer requires more self-service content. The buyer is completing on average 60%+ of their buying process before the sales rep is engaged. Marketers are responding with a series of tactics to stimulate and intercept early stage interest. Targeted campaigns directed at latent demand are capturing buyers at the early stages of the buying process. The following execution investments are common:
- Map and build content to serve all stages of the buying process.
- Invest in SEO and keywords to “get found.”
- Configure processes to manage and nurture leads.
- Build campaigns that deliver content that stimulates and moves forward the buying process.
- Develop roles and responsibilities to align with corporate.
These are all prudent responses to the evolved buying process. They also represent tactical areas of execution. You can easily miss the greater strategic picture. Take a moment out of your day to take a deeper dive.
A Tactical Response will Miss the Mark– Consider Two Scenarios
Think of two possible scenarios for your company. The first scenario is a tactical response representing a project-by-project reaction. The second scenario is a strategic approach that aligns all touch-points of your company.
Scenario 1 – Marketing makes a Step Change.
Marketing adapts to the changes in the buying process and implements tactics described above. This helps bridge the gap between your sales force and the customer. Buyers engage marketing content and visibility to what they read is provided to the sales team. The non-customized content cannot guide the solution as much as needed. By the time a lead gets to a sales rep the buying process has taken shape. The seller must undo some bad assumptions made by the buyer. This may include lack of proper business requirements or ill-defined problem statement.
Ultimately the sales rep receives a lead that requires a great deal of effort to engage and win. Marketing provides best-in-class marketing materials for the rep to use in the dialogue. The sales rep must fight an uphill battle. It’s akin to a Special Forces soldier being parachuted behind enemy lines without air support. It’s up to the resourcefulness of the individual rep to accomplish the mission. Talent alone does not equal success. The right performance conditions increase the output of your “A” players.
Marketing helped facilitate the buying process, but did not shape it. Too much was left for sales to try and do in the last mile. Marketing was helpful, but not a game changer.
Scenario 2 – Marketing as a Game Changer.
Think of the sales team in the near future as a Navy Seals Special Operations Force. Supporting sales is the marketing team providing air support and pre-mission intelligence. In this scenario there is a marketing strategy aligned with sales to accomplish the objective (Revenue). All the tactics tie together in a comprehensive vision to engage with buyers to shape the buying process.
Before the sales rep receives the lead, Marketing has helped shape the buying process. Content is written to answer specific micro questions the buyer commonly asks at each buying stage. Lead Development Reps have documented overall qualification and areas of interest. Marketing has brought in sales teams to provide spot support early in the buying process. This may be a 30-minute WebEx to provide answers to a specific, yet custom early stage question. This helps set-up the sales rep as an expert for later introduction when the prospect is ready.
Throughout the buying process Marketing efforts bring Sales in and out at the right times. These represent targeted interactions for prospects who fit the Ideal Customer Profile. These are ‘Major Interactions’ that generate brand and solution preference. When the time is right sales gets engaged. Marketing helps Sales to get into the opportunity at the right time and with the right support. The major interaction is informed with detailed information about the target lead’s interest. The sales rep is equipped to win by entering an opportunity they have been involved with earlier.
Stop thinking of marketing as simply passing off leads to sales as if it’s a linear process. Think in terms of marketing providing a constant cycle of preference building interactions. Marketing content drives interest and sales helps shape the solution early. Sales teams become the rapid response to dynamic opportunities that marketing uncovers.
A comprehensive sales and marketing strategy is required to orchestrate this approach. Investment in marketing strategy ensures that marketing has an end-to-end plan for buyers.
DOWNLOAD “How to Increase Marketing’s Contribution to 2015 Revenue” report here. Complete the associated marketing assessment checklist. This will provide you with a view to how all the elements fit together. It should take 10 minutes. Think through how the marketing strategy facilitates the early stage buying process.
If you have any other questions, connect with me via a LinkedIn Inmail.