Brands have seen the proliferation of digital and mobile technologies cause the single greatest change in how people engage with them. With so much information available on-demand, customers have taken matters into their own hands when it comes to making a purchase and taken control of the buying journey.
Why does this matter?
Sales teams have less face-time with customers. Our recent survey found that 40% of brands now contend with customers doing more research on their own before making a purchase.
What this means is that sales leaders have to meet increasingly ambitious targets with a smaller window of time to influence customer behaviour. At the same time, marketing content is being held to a higher standard of transparency and relevance by an audience that’s been empowered by easy access to competitor messaging, independent reviews and third party research.
Why it’s time for realignment
How can brands cut through the noise to win customers over, and engage with them on their own terms in a relevant way? Put simply, marketing, sales and service teams need to stop working independently and in their own interests.
Despite both being front-end activities aimed at driving revenue, the rift that has formed between sales and marketing teams that have been conditioned to serve different objectives is no longer sustainable. To convert leads, brands need to align their customer-facing functions to the buying habits of their customers, not outdated KPIs.
After all, customers have no reason to care whether your sales and marketing teams are meeting their metrics. They just want a great experience.
Most companies have known this for years – in fact, 44% of respondents to our survey agree that lead conversion is more successful when functions are aligned – but have done little to act so far.
Turning words into action
Here are simple steps to help ensure marketing, sales and service teams are not only aligned in their approach but also have the tools and access to data they need to execute.
Step 1: Build a core transformation team
A small team made up of just a few representatives from marketing, sales and service will ensure all parties are represented, while also making the transformation smoother.
Step 2: Set measurable goals
It’s not enough to just set a KPI for marketing, sales and service teams to “convert more leads”. Set measurable outcomes with a concrete timeline so that everyone works towards a common goal and can track their success.
Step 3: Make use of data
It’s still common for people to receive emails suggesting they buy products they’ve already purchased from the same company. From a customer’s perspective, there is no excuse for this type of communication breakdown between marketing and sales.
Each team needs instant access to the latest data on each customer to deliver the level of service they’ve come to expect. PSA group - the car manufacture behind Peugeot, DS and Citroën - was able to reduce its response times by half and boost productivity 75% by using a common platform that delivers a single, up-to-date customer view across its business.
Step 4: Work with one integrated platform
A single customer view is only achievable with an integrated platform. Brands can collect all forms of data – CRM, customer loyalty, demographics – but unless they are able to combine all these sources in a meaningful way it’s use is limited.
Take Panasonic, which moved part its B2B sales to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud platform. The transition has seen marketing leads passed to sales more quickly and improved Panasonic’s chance of closing deals.
Step 5: Assemble, Analyze and Adjust
Success needs to be measurable. Measure the ROI of your tactics, track campaign performance from lead to purchase and learn from your experiences, using new insights to shape future sales and marketing strategies. The key to standing out in a crowded market is to constantly refine one’s approach.