Sales and marketing. They go hand in hand, right? In theory, yes. In reality, not so much. The lament of many marketers and salespeople alike revolves largely around the seemingly natural born enemies that reside on these two teams. It seems to have developed into all out war in many companies with daggers being thrown and a level of secrecy to rival MI5 but there is really no need for it.
Each department supports (or should support) the other, marketing generate warm leads for sales and sales follow up and hopefully close them. The cycle then flips on its head and sales pass case studies, testimonials and new leads back to marketing to drip feed with relevant campaigns and valuable content. And it begins again.
But why do so many companies struggle to keep this loop running smoothly?
In all honesty, and we’re not just saying this, its pretty much down to technology. Or a lack of it. While many continue to rely on dated sales order books, spreadsheets and the like, technology has moved on. It has stormed ahead in fact, to the point that the most menial of tasks can now be automated; marketing and sales no longer need to be sworn enemies but the best of friends.
So with new technologies, come new buzzwords. Enter Business Intelligence, Big Data, Marketing Automation and goodness only knows what else is on the way.
Business Intelligence and data analysis are no longer limited to the IT whizzkids in the office, but both have come to the mainstream, typically low-tech user. Taking the data trapped in your back office accounting package, Business Intelligence (BI) analyzes and presents this data in such a way that you and your team can actually use it in dashboards, intuitive tables, advanced drill downs, interactive graphs, automated sales reports and much more. So many companies are missing out on big opportunities simply because they don't have the manpower, time or inclination to perform lengthy data analysis. There are always more pressing matters in a business, but surely finding valuable sales opportunities has to be of utmost importance? This is where many businesses turn to BI solutions, to do the heavy lifting for them, analyzing data sets in seconds and feeding sales teams with actionable information.
Both sales and marketing can benefit from BI. Most marketers love data and lots of it. The more information both teams have, the better they can perform. Sales will appreciate having valuable opportunities highlighted to follow up on, while marketing will benefit from the instant insight into customer behavior and spend trends when designing their next campaign.
CRM software has been around for long enough that most companies now have a system of sorts in place. Despite it being the simplest of the three types of technology in this post, it’s so important. Not just for sales and marketing, but for your entire business. There is nothing more embarrassing than calling a customer to see how they’re enjoying their latest order, only to hear that they didn’t receive it and are still waiting for a replacement. Awkward conversations are never good conversations. They don’t say much for your customer service either.
And yet another buzzword being bandied around of late is Marketing Automation. The market for this bit of tech is set to grow to just shy of $5bn in 2015. Put simply, it’s the easy way to manage every lead, prospect and customer. If you have thousands of them on your hands, each at a different stage in their buying cycle, getting your marketing and sales approach on point can be so difficult. Lead nurturing, relationship marketing, scoring and measuring ROI are just some of the primary features that good marketing automation solutions can provide.
Alone, these are all fantastic pieces of technology that will help every business. But put the three of them together and you’ll have yourself some sales and marketing magic in the making.
Use your BI system to tell you what customer X last purchased, tap into your CRM to find out the key contact and relay this to your Marketing Automation tool to send time specific, relevant marketing. Drip feed them perfectly crafted marketing campaigns that pack a punch with prospects and customers until they are warm enough for sales to seal the deal. Who ever said sales and marketing was difficult?
Not only that, marketing automation provides complete transparency for both sides – sales can see what marketing has done and vice versa. The contents of a campaign, its effectiveness and any warm leads are brought to light and there’s no more bickering between the two departments.
Closing a deal should be a team effort and that is exactly where technology should be stepping in, to bridge the gap between two departments often at loggerheads with one another, build their trust in each other and turn them into successful collaborators, not sworn enemies.