Ending the Cold War
If you’re lucky enough to be part of an organization where Sales and Marketing work together openly and collaboratively, you’re in the minority.
As a rule, Sales and Marketing are two camps that co-exist in a state of cold war. In the best cases, they tolerate one another. In the worst cases, the two don’t attend meetings together or communicate in any direct way. Instead, Sales blames Marketing for wasting their time with bad leads; and Marketing blames Sales for not being able to close the great leads they’re working so hard to produce.
Since these two departments have the same ultimate goal — i.e., to raise their brand’s value and generate more revenue — they should make natural allies. And in truly great organizations, they do. In progressive environments, the historic cold war between these two camps is melted when each realizes a critical point about the other:
Great marketers can identify and target your most-lucrative potential prospects, and communicate the value of your brand. Great salespeople know the needs and concerns of your customers better than anyone, and have the talent to transform interest and curiosity into revenue.
No matter what side of the fence you’re on, upon realizing these truths, you understand how critical each faction is to the other — and how important such a well-tuned collaboration can be to your organization.
To illustrate this type of progressive collaboration, we offer you The Next-Generation B2B Funnel:
Here are 7 basic steps that Sales and Marketing can take, together, to achieve their collective goals:
1. Identify & Target Your MLPs. The traditional sales funnel — the old AIDA strategy — is all about casting the widest possible net, knowing that most of the fish will be lost before you pull it back inside the boat. These days, data enables amazing levels of insight. So, cast a more strategic set of nets. Identify the prospects within your greater target audience — via their search and social media behavior — who have the highest potential value for your organization: your “Most-Lucrative Prospects” (MLPs).
2. Raise Awareness. Don’t just throw up a flag and see who responds. Make your MLP aware of your brand, and the people behind it, in the most relevant ways possible. In researching keyword searches and social-media profiles, you’ll find important questions that your MLPs are asking — questions that your organization is uniquely qualified to answer. This is a great way to start a conversation.
3. Initial Engagement. You’ve made your brand known via some combination of display ads, text ads, promoted social media posts, and sponsored content … and your message struck a nerve with your MLPs, and drove a click. Great. But a click is meaningless if it doesn’t result in deep engagement. What’s on the other side of that click matters; so be sure to pay it off with web content and/or offers that make a big impact on your MLPs — and drive them to opt-in for more.
4. Lead Nurture. You’ve identified a potentially high-value customer, made him/her aware of your brand, engaged him/her in a meaningful way, and generated enough interest to drive them to opt in. Now’s your chance to truly sell that prospect. Don’t think of a long sales cycle as a torturous waiting game; rather, it’s an ideal opportunity to engage your MLPs with regular content, over time, that answers their questions, quells their skepticism, and builds their confidence in your organization.
5. Marketing Qualified Leads. During the lead nurture process, every digital action an MLP takes — every email open, every web page visit, every download, every social media “like” — has a scoreable value. Calculate these over time, and keep track of each MLP’s overall “lead score.” Once an MLP reaches a certain determined score, you’ll know — with statistical confidence — that he/she is “in market” to buy. The MLP then graduates to Marketing Qualified Lead (or, MQL), and is handed over to Sales.
6. Sales Qualified Leads. By the time an MQL is passed to Sales, that lead has been receiving helpful, intriguing communications from your brand for months. If the market research was solid and you’ve addressed the audience’s pain points in a meaningful way,* those leads are coming in already half-sold on your brand — because you’ve taken the time to engage them and earn their trust. Now, Sales is in an ideal position to take them across the goal line.
7. Close Business. You’ve made that first sale … but that’s only the beginning. The investment you have in that new customer was made to support a long-term, multi-purchase relationship. You already took the time and effort to create loads of high-quality, relevant content; now, adjust your Lead Nurture Campaign to help your existing customers solve the problems they face every day. They’ll thank you for it with their continued trust — and business.
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