I was talking to a former colleague yesterday and she made the claim that as a marketer, she had no control over the sales process and little or any impact on revenue. Regardless of whether this is true at her particular company, B2B marketers should (and do) have substantial impact on sales revenue. In fact, there are many instances where upgrading the marketing function can bring a much larger boost to the top line than hiring more sales people.
To put this in practical terms, if your organization is struggling to grow revenue with 10 salespeople, it probably makes sense (sorry) to let the two weakest performers go, and redirect the expense at a more effective marketing operation – or what we call “building an unstoppable marketing and sales machine.” If you do this right yourself, or get a partner like Fusion Marketing Partners to help, you will get substantially better results from your new integrated marketing and sales machine, than you did in a heavily sales-oriented environment.
There are a number of important steps that marketing can take to add value to the sales process, specifically as it applies to supporting increased revenue. Here are a few examples:
Step 1: Tighten the message. It is not unusual to find different sales reps speaking different messages about the company and its products and services. Remember that it is not the brilliance of the message that wins the day, but rather the quality and consistency of the message. Pick a brand promise that is compelling and unique and make sure every one of your sales reps knows how to articulate it orally and in writing.
Step 2: Generate a bunch of leads. In many B2B environments the marketing department is primarily evaluated on their ability to produce sales leads. All the other great things you do will not save your bacon if the sales reps are starving for leads. We’ve got a great eBook about this coming out in a couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for this at the Fusion Marketing Partners website.
Step 3: Qualify the leads. Quit sending raw inquiries to your sales reps. Except in rare cases, this simply doesn’t work. Instead, institute a qualification process so that sales reps spend time at what they do best (selling and closing), not what they do poorly (qualify leads). This is a much more effective way to create an effective marketing and sales machine.
Step 4: Talk to customers and prospects. One way to gain credibility with the sales department is to show them that you have a good grasp on the marketplace. And I just don’t mean at the macro-level, I mean at the micro-level – what individual customers and prospects say about the strengths and weaknesses of your offerings. And keep in mind that it is just as important, maybe more so, to find out why people didn’t buy from you. You are not looking for plaudits; you are looking for actionable market intelligence.
Step 5: Produce lots of good content. There is no such thing as too much quality content in the B2B environment, especially at the company website. Prospects need to be reassured that you are a credible company that has viable solutions to the challenges they are facing. Don’t make sales come to you for content ideas – get in front of the curve and anticipate their needs. One good way to do this is to practice step 3 and ask prospects what type of information is necessary to convince them to become customers.
Taking these five steps can have a profound impact on your company’s sales revenue and your marketing department will be viewed as a key partner in the revenue generation process.