Sales and marketing alignment is the buzzword of B2B organizations today. There has been much progress in creating conversations between marketing and the customer, and between sales and the customer. And now there is a lively discussion coming to the foreground about the space between marketing and sales, but unfortunately it is often just that… a lot of discussion, a recognition of the need, but little real progress. There is not much useful two-way communication happening between marketing and sales. Indeed, all too often the name of the game is marketing versus sales. Marketing creates sales collateral and the sales people either use it or not, or change it to suit the needs of the customer. The lack of trust, transparency and shared ownership of numbers often lead one side to blame the other when goals aren’t hit. Rarely does the sales person sit down with the marketing group to explain how the customer reacted to the message, and even more rarely does the marketing person accompany the sales person on a client call.
It is no surprise that a study conducted by Forrester Research found that in 92% of B2B companies, sales and marketing are far from well aligned. “Despite the best intentions, the conventional thinking of marketing and sales leaders around how to align these two teams is flawed,” Forrester reports, “as it addresses the symptoms rather than the cause of the chasm.” Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, says it’s actually worse than that. “The lack of synergy between sales and marketing is so common as to risk cliché. Marketing feels that sales doesn’t follow-up on marketing-generated leads. Sales counters that the leads aren’t any good, and the information they provide isn’t helpful. My experience confirms that this communication breakdown affects nine out of ten companies.”
Leaders in the marketing and sales professions realize that there is value to be had in a more robust discourse between them. But how can organizations make it happen? Time is the biggest barrier. Sales people are client focused, and marketing people are message focused, and neither has the time for the work needed to break down the barriers between the two organizations and engage in ongoing dialogue.
However, while physical collaboration may be difficult, virtual collaboration is not. The concept of virtual collaboration contains real strategic and competitive power. The largest untapped resource in B2B organizations—the inherent or tacit knowledge of our workforce—is one of the most important competitive assets of the global marketplace. It just requires a little smart technology to put it to use. With cloud-based technology, B2B enterprises are developing the physical ability to tap into and effectively capture, categorize, and redistribute that previously elusive resource and experience true financial gains.
One powerful solution that has come onto the stage recently is a value-based pricing software solution that captures the customer’s reaction to a marketing message and provides feedback to marketing, based on the value message that the customer received and the reaction to that message that the sales person heard.
Here’s how it works:
1. When a sales person negotiates with the customer using flexible software that contains marketing’s messaging and value drivers. The sales person can make changes on the spot.
2. When the sales person reaches mutual agreement with a customer on value and price, the messaging and underlying value drivers are modified by the sales person and automatically relayed back to marketing.
3. Then marketing tweaks the message and the process continues, improving the message iteratively, all without an actual face to face conversation. But marketing has the benefit of having been at the sales meeting, even though they weren’t physically there. And sales has the benefit of sitting in on the marketing meeting, influencing their thinking, even though they are still out in the field.
4. The software captures real-world changes based on the customer’s reactions, and a virtuous cycle is started. Marketing has the advantage of a virtual presence at the client meeting. Sales has the advantage of a virtual presence at the marketing meeting. The result is a “virtual conversation” – both groups benefit from the conversation that never really took place.
LeveragePoint embeds the “virtual conversation” between marketing and sales. As the value messages created by marketing are played out with the customer, the sales person makes changes to nail the sale. As the message is refined, it is fed back to marketing.
True sales and marketing collaboration is so important to corporate competitiveness and organizational effectiveness it kind of makes you wonder why enterprises are waiting so long to find a solution?
About the Author:
Jonathon Levy is Co-founder of LeveragePoint. Previously, Jonathon served as Senior Learning Strategist at The Monitor Group for five years, and before that was Vice President for Online Learning for Harvard Business School’s Publishing corporation. Jonathon is a thought leader and “eWorking” expert, best known for innovative user-centric online solutions for activating and embedding methods at scale for the lagest companies and best universities in the world. He is responsible for developing a new generation of online products that integrate learning with doing, currently used by thousands of professionals from Fortune 50 companies.