Sales and marketing alignment – or smarketing – isn’t entirely a new concept. In the dawn of the inbound marketing, however, it’s importance in businesses worldwide have grown to be more pronounced due to the ever-increasing scale in which we do modern business.
Though it might arcane, sales and marketing alignment is really just all about attaining that ideal relationship between both departments. Since we’re marketers, this post will deal with our side of the smarketing bargain.
Marketers need to think with the end in mind: the inevitable sale for and delight of the prospect. The only way to achieve that is to give the prospect a highly-personal experience across sales and marketing funnels.
That bridging between two funnels will be the primary focus of this post. We will outline the information salespeople expect from their leads, as well as the relevant contextual information specific to every contact for them to close deals friction-free.
The basic stuff
Names, phone numbers, email addresses, company names, and job titles. Obvious as they are, it is imperative that marketers get this right 100% of the time. Prospects, especially those who are in constant communication and are engaged with your company, expect their sales representatives to know them as much as they know your brand.
Verify your leads across multiple sources first before handing them over to sales. Be it through LinkedIn, further company offers, a quick survey – any privacy and GDPR-compliant method for that matter – helps to clean your data and take some pain off business development activities.
Your prospect’s industry and competition
Knowing which industry your prospect’s company plays in is helpful. Knowing who they are competing against, and on what economic landscape, is certainly indispensable. With this information, it will become easier for both sales and marketing to align their messaging and pitch to that which resonates with their prospects’ organizational needs.
There are many ways to do this, but a quick and effective way is to do it manually with SEO and SEM competitive analysis tools.
Ascertain what keywords their businesses are targeting for, and use that to get a list of their direct and indirect competitors. A good number of competitors to look out for would be around 3 – 5 companies. For this list, work inwards and see where your prospect’s brand is differentiated from the pack.
Differentiation is key to staying competitive in the market. Know your prospects further by going the extra mile and seeing the market landscape from their point of view. This knowledge will arm your sales team with a strategy for your prospect (where your solution plays a key role in, of course) that is instrumental in sealing the deal.
Business nature, culture, and target markets
With your prospect’s brand differentiation ascertained, try to understand the execution side of their strategy and the audience they are attracting or trying to attract with it. Knowing who their stakeholders better prepares your sales team in not just aligning their pitch, but clarifying the needs and pain points of your prospects before they even begin to speak out their issues.
Have you ever had a conversation before where the person you were speaking to immediately understood and empathized with your problem? That is exactly what knowing these details is about.
Take your prospect’s market positioning statement, mission and vision, the services they offer, and most importantly, some samples of the voice and tone they use in their copy and include them in the leads list you pass on to sales. Provide a short summary of who they are as a company, the businesses they are competing against, and your analysis of what makes them better than the rest.
Responsibilities and challenges
This is where marketing starts to show that it is a business about human to human conversations. It can get even more personal than this (more on this later), but this is the minimum “personal depth” we recommend marketers look into as communicate with their prospects.
Take the time to know your prospects beyond their basic contact information, job title, company, and industry. What are their main responsibilities besides those that their job titles suggest? Who do they answer to? What sort of challenges do they face as they move to accomplish their daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly objectives? More importantly, how can doing business with you help him achieve his goals in his workplace?
For this, consider visiting your prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Have a quick run-through of his previous affiliations, attended events, skills and awards, and posts. You don’t have to write or copy and paste everything down on the report. Capturing your prospect’s responsibilities in a concise sentence works well enough, like so:
Joseph is an IT Manager with a deep background in Linux. His responsibilities lie in overseeing internal network security, but bring-your-own-devices and managing the balance between IT flexibility and security seem to be taking up a lot of his time.
Interests and goals
Marketers are in the business of getting to know their prospects – not stalking them. So be careful and know where to draw the line as early as possible!
That being said, the goal in this section is not to inspect through every available online information about your prospects. What you can do is instead to create a mini-persona of sorts that you could use as a model of interaction with this prospect.
To build this persona, ask yourself the following questions:
Not all of these questions can be readily answered with the information you have available. Just remember that what you need to pass on to the salespeople isn’t necessarily more information. Rather, a “feel” for your prospect and the motivations behind communicating with your brand in the first place.
Recent interactions with your company
Analytics and marketing automation reporting tools often play the pivotal role in closing deals. They contain contain a chock-full of insights about your prospects – where they first found you, the content they consumed within your website or domain, emails from your brand they found interesting, and so on.
By aggregating all this data and formatting for a more digestible layout, salespeople will be able to understand, in one glance, exactly what sort of interaction is “missing” that they could fill in. For instance, a prospect who has been a subscriber for a long time clicked on an email offer, but didn’t push through with your flow, could use just a bit more convincing to for him to convert. This, of course, along with complementary data discussed in this article.
Salespeople work best when they are able to concentrate exclusively on closing deals. The less time they spend prospecting, digging for or verifying missing information, or nurturing leads themselves, the more they can make the most out of their resources – time, energy, and focus greatly needed in their craft.
Our duty as marketers, then, is to enable them to concentrate to the best of our ability. This means passing on only the best quality leads, attainable only through complete, accurate, and filled with the necessary context – context that is needed to have human-to-human conversations with prospects.