B2B buyers increasingly leverage both marketing and sales-led channels throughout the buying process, but often fail to realize their true value due to differing priorities between marketing and sales departments, according to Gartner, Inc.
“Effective B2B demand generation relies on collaboration between marketing and sales. In this current environment with coronavirus-related business disruption impacting businesses around the globe, this type of alignment is more important than ever,” said Noah Elkin, vice president analyst for Gartner for Marketers. “Implementing a shared vision and processes enables both departments to focus on collectively serving the needs of their highest-value customers and prospects.”
Marketers have been focusing their efforts on driving engagement through digital content development and delivery, and improved engagement measurement to secure a faster sales handoff. Meanwhile, sales has been boosting the team’s in-person capabilities through the use of prospecting tools, sales enablement content and activities such as stakeholder mapping. This is resulting in a disjointed experience that does little to ease a complex purchasing journey.
To overcome this hurdle and create harmony, Gartner recommends the following three steps:
Step 1: Bring marketing, sales and other stakeholders together around common objectives
The first step involves getting marketing and sales leadership to the table — at a minimum, the heads of both departments. Marketing and sales leadership play crucial roles in ensuring everyone’s role in the partnership is clearly defined, from the management level down to those on the front lines. This includes setting clear expectations on outcomes, establishing rules of engagement for all involved to follow and agreeing on shared metrics and accountability.
Step 2: Focus efforts on driving positive customer outcomes
Efforts to drive positive customer outcomes can alleviate some of the challenges marketing and sales may face when working together. Even if marketing and sales approach customers from different perspectives, both organizations are invested in their ability to deliver results for customers. Driving positive outcomes requires marketing and sales to unite around a common framework for prioritizing customers and accounts.
Step 3: Address gaps in core lead management processes
One of the most critical parts of an effective lead management process is for marketing and sales to jointly define what makes for a good lead, especially as it passes from one stage of the funnel to the next. Agreement on the minimum criteria a lead must meet before sales engagement is essential. From marketing’s perspective, getting this right is at the core of building a high-trust relationship with sales.
“All three of these steps involve active evaluation and frequent corrections to optimize outcomes,” said Mr. Elkin. “Develop a joint program that aligns all departments and stakeholders and uses shared customer data to identify areas of opportunity. Then, apply a plan of action that the shared team can jointly monitor and adjust for optimal performance.”