If I asked you, right now, to describe your marketing team’s number one customer, what would you say?
As marketers, we’re trained to think creatively: who is our target audience and how can we reach them? How can we communicate with prospects in new and exciting ways? Sometimes it’s easy to forget that marketing’s most important customer is sitting right under the same roof, and likely, within earshot: your sales team.
We’ve talked a lot recently about sales-marketing alignment, but let’s take a closer look at two major reasons why catering to sales should be a top priority when you sit down to plan marketing initiatives:
- Direct contact with your buyer. Your sales reps have a better understanding of your prospective buyers than you can ever guess at (how’s that for a serving of humble pie?). After all, they deal with them on a day-to-day basis; they hear their questions, concerns, and needs, and understand what motivates them to buy your product and what causes them to hesitate.
- Direct impact on the bottom line. Furthermore, your reps are the ones ultimately closing deals and generating revenue. The best way for marketing to contribute to the bottom line is to be familiar with your sales teams’ pain points, and to consistently create the content and marketing assets that will help reps close more deals, faster.
Last week’s release of Salesforce® Engage spurred a larger conversation around how technology can facilitate sales-marketing alignment, but don’t forget that the strategy behind the technology is equally important. (Sure, you can put personalized email templates at your sales reps’ fingertips, but what good will this do if the email templates don’t convey the messaging they need?). Here are a few best practices for opening channels of communication and staying in-tune with your reps for true sales-marketing alignment:
1. Schedule a meeting.
This is the very first thing you should do to open up lines of communication. Find out how your sales team communicates: are there regular meetings you can sit in on? An email listserv you can subscribe to? If you’re going to identify your sales team’s pain points, it’s important to be a part of these conversations on a regular basis.
2. Get in on the action.
Go straight to the source: listen in on sales calls and take note of the questions prospects are asking and the concerns that arise. It’s important to have these questions and concerns directly addressed by a rep during a sales call — it’s even more powerful to receive follow-up content after the sales call reinforcing what was talked about and linking to further information.
3. Ask the right questions.
Sit down with a few sales reps one-on-one and find out what their typical sales cycle looks like. If your sales team has reps that cover different territories or business sizes, you’ll want to create content to meet each of their specific needs. Address questions like:
What are the most common questions and concerns you hear on calls?
What is the biggest snag you hit in closing a deal? What do you think causes this delay?
What’s one feature or benefit that you’d like your prospects to have a better understanding of?
4. Create a single source of sales content.
Chances are, you’ve already created a ton of content that could be useful to your sales team — they just don’t know how to access it. Make things simple for your reps: compile all of your helpful, evergreen content into a library, and organize it in a way that will allow your sales team to find what they’re looking for at a glance. This may mean categorizing by funnel stage, by territory, by business size, or by topic — whatever system makes sense for you.
Also consider adding keywords or a brief description of the content. While this will require an investment of time initially, you’ll ultimately save yourself time by recycling content you’ve already written, and ensuring that your hard work doesn’t get lost in the archives.
5. Develop an internal digest.
It’s also important to keep your sales team up-to-date on new content as you release it, so develop an internal digest or message board. The most important thing to remember here: you’re not writing for marketers. Your sales team gets enough email as it is — if you send them several paragraphs of information, they won’t read it. Keep things short, use bullet points and checklists, or directly address questions (“if the prospects asks this, send them this”). You can also create ready-made social postings to help your sales team share your content with their networks easily — just copy, paste, and share.
6. Keep the lines of communication open.
Communication goes both ways, so make it as easy as possible for your sales team to request content. Create an email address or message board specifically for this cause, so your reps can quickly send an idea or request whenever an idea hits them. Remember to ask for feedback on this process as well, and always be receptive to new ways you can better communicate with your reps.
Feel like you have a good handle on the six points above and have an effective communication strategy in place? Let technology make the rest a cinch: check out our latest e-book to learn how your sales and marketing tools can work together to connect teams seamlessly and close deals faster.