As a content marketer, I had never given a sales pitch verbally — much less standing in front of a group of salespeople, but when called upon during a sales enablement training session, I thought ‘Why not. I sort of know what to do… right?’ As far as challenges go in B2B marketing, this wasn’t an especially big one, but you’d never know from how utterly panicked I felt to find myself standing in front of 20 members of the Pardot sales team who seemed to have all the experience in the world. I pitched. And the result was a small, personal victory.
The Challenges that Bind
B2B marketers face a whole host of challenges — the least of which is delivering a sales pitch in front of members of their sales teams. (I say: don’t rule out how terrifying it is until you’ve done it). Our field is evolving rapidly, based on the whims and preferences, needs and demands of a very large, very diverse group of people: the buyers.
One of the reasons I felt like attempting the sales pitch was because as a marketer, I wanted to put myself in sales’ shoes and get some insight into how they began to develop relationships with buyers. Problem solving is something we do on a daily basis as marketers, and trying to understand how we solve problems others have is an important part of our job as well. It’s one of the places that sales and marketing overlap, and for me, it felt like a good place to start thinking about how we work closely together, and how we can do more to support each other.
If you’re working towards greater alignment with your sales team, looking at the challenges that you face separately will give you some insight into the challenges that you can face together. Here’s how sales and marketing alignment can help B2B marketers facing these three common challenges.
Keeping Pace with Customers
This is the number one challenge for top-performing B2B marketers. It’s understandable in a landscape that changes so quickly. Customer experience has come to dominate the buyer relationship as a major differentiator, so marketers are right to be concerned. The thing is, when sales and marketing are closely aligned, hot leads are passed to sales teams faster, and cold ones are sent back to marketing to be warmed up in nurture programs. Instead of being a linear process, it becomes a circular one with teams able to support each other to provide an all around better customer experience. Sounds like nirvana right?
Building Deeper Customer Relationships
The solution to this one is two-fold: personalization, and data that enables it. Sales can build stronger, more meaningful relationships with prospects when they know enough about them to be able to personalize their communications. That’s where marketing comes in. Working closely with sales, marketers can make sure that the information sales needs to personalize their communications gets passed to them with each lead. Speak to your sales teams and get their feedback on what kind of communications they have, and want to have with prospects, and then set up a method of making sure that each lead changes hands with the correct details.
New Business Development
This one is tricky for both marketing and sales. Prospecting is one thing when you know your target audience well, but prospecting in a whole new market can be like losing your glasses in the dark (yes, that bad). Going back to the basics can help. Work with sales to determine what kind of language, nuances, and industry-insights you can call on to develop content. The more feedback you give one another, the better prepared both teams will be to deal with the new challenges the market will present.
The Moral of the Story
My sales pitch wasn’t perfect, but learning along with our sales team was eye-opening. Greater sales and marketing alignment starts with communication. The more you know about one another’s needs and issues, the better you’ll be able to tackle new challenges.