There are literally millions of posts about marketing hacks and tips that will tell you how to make buyers come flocking. But most marketing discussion stops before the marketer begins selling. The online “gurus” you might give you advice around ad tactics, or their super-secret technique that will get clients lined up at your door waving their credit card. That is the job of marketing – to help an audience understand what you offer and to promote its value. Marketing gets buyers to the door.
For most businesses, though, marketing isn’t the end of the process, it is only the end of the beginning of the customer acquisition process. At some point, the timbre of the discussion between your business and your prospects changes from highlighting the benefits and rewards of working with your company to a discussion about them becoming customers. The end of marketing and the beginning of selling meet when it come time to get the prospect to commit to your business by paying you money. It’s this transition where the carefully crafted “funnel” can fall apart.
In many organizations, sales and marketing are two separate functions.
At your agency, your marketing department might develop a terrific lead magnet offer like “10 Magical Secrets to Hacking Instagram For Maximum Likes & Mega-Revenue”. Your prospect downloads your otherworldly secrets and cannot wait for Insta-fame and fortune to come their way. When the lead is handed to your intrepid business development staff, the burgeoning Instagram superstar gets a pitch about Instagram ads and landing pages. The Insta-star wants more information and secrets to building their brand, and sales is pushing a campaign management service. The match was close – Instagram hacking and Instagram ad experience are similar, but not a total match. There was an intent gap. The Instagram hacker might grow into a brand that wants and needs ads and landing pages, but today they are looking for an Insta-magic set of secrets.
The lead and call fail to generate new business.
During the campaign debrief, marketing feels undervalued because they generated a great lead. Sales is angry because the lead wasn’t right. Everybody has wasted their time & energy.
At startups, the story is similar – marketing comes up with a terrific “grow your business” hook, and sales runs a demo focused on workflow efficiencies that help the prospect save time and money. And yes, efficiencies can drive growth, but they aren’t typically a growth engine – which is what marketing had teased. The result of the marketing/sales handoff is a potential customer disconnect.
You get enough of these missed opportunities and sales starts whispering to the CEO that marketing sucks, and marketing starts dropping hints that your VP of Sales isn’t really up to snuff. This kind of stuff happens everyday at companies in every industry. Marketing departments get focused on click through rates, lead conversion percentages. Sales gets focused on demo to close rates. But rarely is anyone looking at the continuum of marketing touches to closed sales. (E-commerce retailers are actually closest here, where they are looking at traffic to sale conversions, but they aren’t typically looking at the entire picture, either.)
So What Is The Solution?
Fundamentally, the solution comes from to a simple question. Everybody in the company should be be crystal clear and able to articulate what you do and for whom you do it.
Marketing needs to have an ideal client profile and buyer persona that maps closely to the buyers and influencers that sales is going to be calling.
Sales needs to carry the value proposition and promises marketing promotes into every interaction they have with a lead.
Customer service (or account management or whatever) needs to have this thread firmly in their mind during every interaction with the client.
Marketing has to KEEP the value prop as a primary focus of follow up communication with leads and customers, because this adds resonance and veracity to the customer service calls and sales extension and upsells.
What Do You Do? For Whom?
This is the essential question that defines your business. It is the fabric of your business. Without that knowledge resonating throughout every facet of your business – from pre-sales through the end of a client relationship – your customer, at some point is going to hit a disconnect between what they experience and what they bought (or what they are thinking of buying…)
As your prospect transitions from the marketing experience to the sales experience, you need to take every opportunity to a) Insure that your prospect matches your customer persona or ideal customer profile (and if you have various buyer personas, figure out which one they are…) and then b) Insure that they will benefit from what you do.
That discussion might go something like this (and if you ever have a call that goes this well, you are likely at your peak…):
ME: Hey, Susan, glad you could make the call today. I’m excited to see if we might be able to work together.
SUSAN: Me, too.
ME: I am just reviewing the info that I have. It looks like you downloaded our white paper about “Potato Guns Are The World’s Best Marketing Tool.” And that you are the Head Marketer at Sweet Potatoes, Inc? Is that right? Can you give me the 30,000 ft overview of Sweet Potatoes, Inc & what you do there?
SUSAN: Sure – I really liked the white paper – it brought up a lot of great points – some of them are why I wanted to get on the call. But Sweet Potatoes is the largest distributor of potato gun parts in southwest PA, and I head up all the marketing – I have a small team, but we’ve got big revenue goals.
ME: Cool – that’s awesome. So now I am even more glad that we’ve connected. Here at Vegetable Weaponry, Inc., we help distributors and manufacturers increase their visibility and sales by creating new and exciting ways to showcase their products. It sounds like there is a good fit between potato gun parts and our approach of turning potato guns into a marketing tool.
SUSAN: Absolutely. This is a good match. I was a little hesitant to take this call because I didn’t want someone selling me parts for my factory, we are looking for ways to increase our sales and channels.
ME: Yeah – I am glad that we cleared that up. This seems like a really strong fit. So let’s dive in and see what the next step is…
OK, so you know that is just an imaginary everything is perfect scenario, but before any selling happened, I confirmed what messaging Susan responded to (what’s the reason for the call). Then I got an understanding of Susan’s responsibilities (marketing) and what her goals are (revenue). Then I repeated my value proposition, but tied it specifically to her vertical, and I tied my result sets to her needs.
In essence, I have reiterated and defined the working relationship that is possible between Sweet Potatoes Inc and Vegetable Weaponry Inc by a) Identifying the messaging that elicited the engagement and b) expressed the value and potential results on an engagement with my company in a way that matches the needs and goals of my target buyer.
That is repetition and resonance that creates a level of comfort so that prospect is sure that we are headed down the right path and wants to learn MORE about what you can do because you have already CONFIRMED that what they want is what you can deliver.
But you know what is cool? I got Susan’s buy-in before I told her about our methodology, our technology, our platform, our widgets, our process, our team or any of that. I started with continuing and reinforcing the marketing message that she responded to AND I confirmed that her goals were aligned with what I can deliver.
That kind of alignment is pretty rare these days. With multiple touchpoints, and complex sales funnels and the like, the smart marketer and smart seller needs to thoroughly connect what the prospective client wants with the core capabilities of your organization.
This is so obvious, but it gets lost amongst the jumble of technology stacks and closing techniques. I had big plans to turn this concept of marketing and sales alignment into a buzzword that could be incorporated into the #TRIPLETHIS growth platform. I was thinking “Mark-a-salesing” or “Smarketing” or something more high-falutin’ like “The Resonance Method” (actually, I kind of like that…maybe that will pop up some day…)
But at the end of the day, this is just common sense. Market what you sell, and sell what you market. Easy-peasy, lemon squeez-y