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Coming to grips with the rapidly evolving behavior of consumers and business customers is challenging executives across every sector.

Today's customers chart their own course; they are in control. Now that buyers can avoid sales contact for much of the buying process, a lot of responsibility belongs to the marketing team. Companies that haven't made the shift to persuasive marketing risk elimination before their salespeople have a chance to do their job. In many companies, the marketing function is best positioned to orchestrate customer engagement for the entire organization.

The alignment of Marketing with Sales can significantly improve revenue by streamlining the customer's path to purchase. And though 38% of CMOs say that aligning and integrating sales and marketing is a top priority this year, only 30% have a clear process or program to make this priority a reality.

Whether your company is dealing with consumers or business customers, taking advantage of what Sales can learn from Marketing and what Marketing can learn from Sales can develop the ultimate revenue-generating powerhouse.

The following is an excerpt from MC2's new report, "Sales vs. Marketing: Who's Got the Lead?"

What Sales Can Learn From Marketing

The proliferation of social media and mobile devices has completely changed how prospects interact with sales professionals.

CEOs don't respond to cold calls, and the return on cold-calling has decreased so drastically that it is essentially extinct.

Sales cycles require more contact to get meetings even with your best and most loyal clients. Today, it takes almost seven meetings to get new business with existing clients. Today's customers are less loyal than in the past.

Most prospects are well aware of what they want and why. Today's buyers may be better equipped than your sales team in knowing how your product and service can help them grow their business.

Sales can take a page from Marketing's playbook when seeking out new customers. Salespeople must be proactive in finding the right match for your company—the ideal client. From a long-term value point of view, you're better off spending as much time and effort as it takes to find the right relationships.

Becoming viewed as an authority by potential customers means salespeople can enter the buyer’s journey earlier. Buyers are drowning in information, and need someone to make it valuable to them and their situation. Sales can help to personalize the information buyers are already researching.

Most importantly, Sales should undergo a shift in approach from product-pushing, "go-to-market" thinking to "go-to-customer" thinking—a simple but hugely important distinction.

What Marketing Can Learn From Sales

Sales and Marketing are both about persuasion. The salesperson's job is to persuade one buyer at a time, and the marketer's job is to persuade markets full of buyers. It used to be a great division of labor: Marketing's job to get a buyer to notice your company and Sales' job to persuade that buyer to choose you. But buyers have changed the rules. Companies that haven't made the shift to persuasive marketing risk elimination before salespeople have a chance to do their job.

In the past, a B2B customer would talk to a salesperson when they were in the early solution-development phase. The salesperson gained their greatest advantage by being the first person to assist the B2B buyer in developing requirements (meanwhile incorporating company's key differentiators).

Customers are now doing their own research online, but being the first to provide insight to solutions still creates substantial advantage. Now, creating that advantage is up to marketers.

Marketers can be there first by helping buyers with the right online content. By developing an effective lead nurture program that helps educate B2B buyers as they develop their solution requirements, you become the natural first choice when they are deciding which solution to select for their company. You don't need to "sell" to them; you just need to make it easy for buyers to find you by putting the right content in the right places, at the right times. An effective inbound marketing strategy can eradicate the need for your sales team to make cold calls.

In the past, Sales has competed by being the best listener and by using product knowledge and insight to convince buyers that their company was the most qualified to meet buyers' requirements and expectations.

Now that buyers can avoid sales contact for much of the buying process, a lot of that responsibility belongs to the marketing team.

Create Same-Side Selling

Overall, the answer is to recognize that Marketing and Sales bring different strengths to revenue growth, and to find ways to get the best out of each function with a coordinated and efficient process.

  • Talk about everything you do from the customer's perspective.
  • Nobody cares how many offices you have or people you employ. What customers care about is whether you understand their situation and have the potential to help them.
  • Engage all your customer-facing team members in building a list of the problems your customers rely on you to solve. Build your sales content from that list.
  • Become masters at creating useful content.
  • Stop thinking that Marketing and Sales are different.

* * *

The bottom line for both Sales and Marketing is improved profits, cash flow, and liquidity. The engine that provides this fuel is Marketing and Sales delivering a robust return.

By working together, Sales and Marketing can develop as the ultimate revenue-generating team.

To read more about this topic and what the two functions must learn from the other in order to succeed, download our new report, Sales vs. Marketing: Who's Got the Lead? (email required).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Rob Murphy

Rob Murphy is the former chief marketing officer of MC2, a global exhibit and event marketing company. Check out the eConnections Digest blog and find MC2 on Twitter (@MC2experience_ and @MC2_FastTrak) and Facebook.