Sales and marketing teams transform products and services into profit by generating opportunities and closing deals that fuel your company’s growth.
But when sales and marketing aren’t strategizing and executing in tandem to battle your competition for customers (and oftentimes they aren’t), the future of your company suffers from the fallout.
Aligning sales with marketing and marketing with sales aren’t new challenges, but today’s online-first buying cycles have taken us to a point where these challenges can no longer remain unaddressed. The internet has created new opportunities for old competitors and new market players to capture the hearts and minds of your customers, which makes differentiating yourself in this environment an absolute must.
And since many businesses still fail to achieve sales and marketing alignment despite the growing need, achieving this in your own business could provide your strongest competitive advantage yet.
The Way Customers Buy Has Changed
The digital disruption that continues to shape our economy has forced B2B buyers to change their habits, making it mandatory for companies to update the way they market and sell. Traditional B2B marketing and sales systems use to build and fill marketing funnels using campaigns that would drop leads at the beginning of the sales pipeline. Then, sales teams would qualify and move those leads through a structured and dynamic sales process.
This is no longer the case.
In today’s modern sales environment, two-thirds of the leads marketing teams generate have already done their online research and made assumptions about your solutions, even before they speak to a sales person. Leads that enter the sales pipeline at later stages of the buying cycle give sales team members less chance – and less time – to have an impact on their buying decision.
In short, marketing has a more comprehensive and complex role to play in positioning sales for success. Integrating and aligning sales and marketing teams, therefore, is no longer an option for companies looking for consistent and predictable growth.
What Does Alignment Look Like?
Many businesses are realizing the importance of aligning their sales and marketing teams, but few know how to do it successfully. You might start by taking the marketing team through your sales process or showing the sales team what the marketing process looks like. But, neither of these investments will do enough to create a single, shared foundation upon which both teams can build and execute your growth strategy.
Sales and marketing organizations that define themselves based on what they do, can never achieve true integration and alignment. What one organization does is simply too different from the other, which means the distance between them will be too vast to overcome. Instead, you must begin with each organization redefining themselves based upon something they both have in common.
We suggest starting with a common or shared definition of your ideal customer, as defined by something we call the Universal Buying Cycle™.
Over the years, we’ve observed that customers buy only when they are ready, willing and able to change. If there is no desire to change, there is no reason to buy. Improving your ability to generate new customers, therefore, does not begin by focusing on how well you market or sell. It begins by improving the shared understanding your sales and marketing teams have for how a customer moves toward change and a successful buying decision.
Each of the four steps that make up the Universal Buying Cycle™ is represented by a key question that must be asked and answered by sales and marketing as they engage qualified buyers. These four questions are:
Why Change? (i.e. What goals or WANTS make change necessary?)
Why Now? (i.e. What business case or IMPACTS make this the best time?)
Why Buy? (i.e. What barriers or NEEDS stand in the way of success?)
Why Us? (i.e. What differentiators make our SOLUTION essential?)
Skipping a step or underinvesting in any one answer will immediately compromise the potential success of your customer’s buying cycle. Ensuring steps are not skipped and questions are thoroughly answered is the responsibility of an aligned sales and marketing organization, and the fastest path to a dominant competitive advantage for your company.
If you’re a business owner, founder or executive interested in learning more about how to apply the Universal Buying Cycle™ to your own sales environment, join us for an upcoming event, or reach out to set up a quick conversation. We are happy to help.