Yesterday, I was asked a question. I didn't realize that I had such a strong opinion on the answer. Much like a pull-string toy, I couldn't stop, and I thought to myself, "Why not share my answer?"
So, here goes.
The question was essentially, "With all that we've experienced over the past 15 months, how can marketing & sales better align post Covid? What things can marketing be thinking about to better support an organizations selling efforts?"
Here was my answer.
The three areas where I’d love to see marketing and sales get more tightly aligned post-Covid:
1) Enabling Sellers to Enable Buyers To Build Remote Consensus:
We all agree that "consensus selling" is hard, right? Having to wrangle together multiple decision makers around a common goal, a common outcome and a common solution is a big part of why sales is so challenging.
However, consensus buying is harder. Sales has an entire focus dedicated to selling. Sales has an entire organization centered around selling. Buyers, on the other hand, (a) likely buy something of substance for their organization once or twice a year, and (b) likely buy a solution like yours once or twice ever.
Now, picture a remote and/or hybrid buying environment. Consensus buying has just gotten considerably harder! For a buyer to build consensus, it has become much more formal. No more consensus building conversations happening by the coffee machine in the kitchen, in the hallways or over a sandwich for lunch.
As a seller, you're communicating your messaging, fit, differentiation, investment, ROI, etc., right?
Picture what it's like to be a buyer. They need to consume the messaging, establish an opinion, a theory, a prediction and a plan, then begin to do their own selling internally. Now more formally. Now more remote.
Those buyers need help!
Sellers need help now more than ever to enable buyers to build internal consensus.
Marketers, what tools, resources and processes can sellers use to help buyers do their work for them? A process for creating short, custom videos a buyer can use to build consensus?
Have the conversations with buyers.
What are they having to do to sell you internally?
Can they use short custom videos?
Can they use a better summary of your pros AND CONS, along with rewards AND RISKS?
Making the buying journey easier in a time and new era when the buying journey has become quite a bit harder should...and can be a focus for sales and marketing teams.
2) Enabling Sellers to Better Set Expectations:
While the popular opinion is that "Customer Experience Is The New Competitive Battleground", I don't buy it. I believe companies will try to one-up each other on customer experience, creating an unsustainable experience inflation that is surely to disappoint more often than it impresses.
I believe that creating accurate expectations, then consistently meeting them, is the key to customers who buy, stay, buy more and advocate.
And that expectation setting flows from marketing through sales through to the customer.
Buying is essentially all about prediction. As a buyer, what we're doing is trying to predict what our experience is going to be like. It's why we read reviews. It's why we read the negative reviews first. It's why, the larger the purchase, the more time we spend analyzing. We're predicting!
As sellers and marketers, our job is to create accurate expectations.
In marketing, can we actually brand the expectation - to help buyers reach faster conclusions? To help buyers stay, buy more and advocate?
When you go to IKEA, and there's no salesperson there to help you, you have to load boxes onto a cart yourself, you have to jam those boxes into your car in the parking lot yourself, and you have to assemble the furniture yourself with a hundred+ parts, and no wors on the work instructions. IKEA continues to be the #1 furniture retailer in the world - 13 straight years.
You go to Costco, and have to buy ranch dressing by the gallon, toothbrushes by the half-dozen, have to bag your purchases yourself, and are checked at the door to ensure you're not stealing anything. Yet, they are the number 2 retailer in the US behind Walmart.
You'll wait in line at Disney 45 minutes to ride Space Mountain.
You'll look forward to getting yelled at when visiting Chicago's "Weiner Circle" by the workers there.
And you'll keep going back.
It's setting accurate expectations, then consistently meeting them. It's not "underpromise/overdeliver", because that creates a short-term spike in satisfaction, but (a) is a form of lying, and (b) is not sustainable.
Marketing, how can you help buyers predict? And, taking that a step further, can you brand the expectation?
3) Help Organizations Skinny The Funnel:
This is likely not a shocking revelation, but in my roles running sales and running revenue for large, fast-growing technology companies, it hit me...
Why are we so focused on volume?
During board meetings, I would sit down with my CMO, and we'd spend more time looking at the flow and volume of MQLs than the ratios.
"Why is lead flow going down?" we'd be asked at board meetings.
Covid or not...
Lead flow going down is a good thing, if the answer is a thinner funnel.
In other words...
Lead flow going down is a good thing, if the answer is winning faster, and just as importantly, losing faster.
Covid has created a bit of a qualification problem. There seems to be, from an outsider's perspective, less learnings around when we lose and why we lose being shared. We keep pursuing the same account profiles, keep experiencing the same wasted time and mistakes, and as a result...
...the funnel is too wide at the top, causing what flows out the bottom to flow more slowly. Losing slowly is not sustainable today or going forward.
How can marketing serve as the function of honing in the firmographic and demographic focus?
How can marketing curate reviews and feedback to inform transparent messaging, so that organizations...
And, can organizations, both sales & marketing, make the metric of "time to loss" a new KPI?
There you have it...my rant.
What do you think? What am I getting wrong? What am I getting right? What am I missing?
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