Customers in 2014 have near unlimited access to data and information, which in some cases can diminish the value of the traditional salesperson. But customers often still need a salesperson to help them make sense of this information and provide context for data. It is here where marketers and salespeople can gain the most by borrowing from each other’s book.
“It’s been a longstanding division that marketing puts out the message and creates brand elements while sales controls individual relationships and keeps clients happy, hopefully closing deals,” explains John Jantsch, a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar. “There has never been a time when those two functions inside an organization need to be more closely aligned such as now.”
Below, experts in sales and marketing discuss six ways the two camps can improve their performance by borrowing from each other.
Quid pro quo: Recognize consumers want value above all else. All marketing is direct in today’s world and consumers expect personalized, relevant conversations with the businesses they engage with—all contingent on what value that business offers. “Put a strong focus on the likely positive benefits that customer will get from engaging with you, buying your product, or using your services,” says Bill McGowan, CEO of Clarity Media Group and author of Pitch Perfect: How to Say it Right the First Time, Every Time.
Kill the compartmentalization: Generally speaking, marketers don’t fancy the idea of sales writing content, which is fine because salespeople don’t have time for that anyway. Organizational experts will invariably impart upon business leaders that this division between marketing and sales exist to everyone’s detriment. “While the need for sales and marketing to work together has always existed,” Jantsch says, “I think the way buyers buy today, and the expectations they have, absolutely demands these teams work together now.”
Focus 100% on the customer: B2B and B2C customers alike expect omnichannel. At this point, customer experience strategy is much more than a whisper in the marketing community. Sales can only benefit by placing the customer at the top of its priority list. “Customers care more about themselves than any business or brand, but both marketing and sales tend to make the conversation about the brand,” says Steve Yastrow, consultant and author of Ditch the Pitch: The Art of Improvised Persuasion. “We need to make the conversations about customers and learn about them to better weave our story into their story.”
Keep effective speaking skills up to snuff: Technology makes everyone’s jobs easier. Marketers now have tools to reach customers where ever they go with the perfect message. CRM has completely transformed sales. However, all of this technology is useless if communication with customers is strained. “As people rely on more and more digital communication, the act of actually speaking with someone is becoming a lost skill,” McGowan says. “The people that put in the time and are serious about being good at speaking will only stand out more as time goes on.”
Foster dialogue; don’t just pitch: Poor metrics and definitive research has shown marketers that “pitchy” rhetoric in email marketing or social communications turns off customers. This applies to sales, as well. “The average American is bombarded with 5,000 marketing, sales, and promotional messages a day,” Yastrow says. “As soon as we sense that somebody is trying to sell us we get defensive. What you need to do is look at each conversation as an opportunity to spark a dialogue with a customer.”
Recognize that there’s still a difference: Personalization and one-to-one engagement can be more talk than action among some marketers, but these intimate conversations are bread and butter for sales. These close connections gives salespeople the opportunity to truly capitalize on marketing materials and deliver value to customers in ways that marketers simply cannot. “Sales should think and act like marketers, but there is a difference. Marketers tend to focus on aggregates,” Jantsch says. “Salespeople shouldn’t care about the aggregate; they should care about properly engaging the right 10 or 20 people.”