According to SalesHub, 50% of sales time is wasted on weak or poor prospects.
It’s a sobering statistic. Even in the very unlikely event that the other half of sales time will always result in a sale, half of it is being put to waste on prospects with no chance of conversion.
What causes a sales team to spend so much time chasing after impossible sales? Ask a sales team and the most common answer you will get is that it’s the fault of the marketing team. According to Kapost, 65% of salespeople say they lack content to send to their prospects, while the TAS Group found that misalignment between sales and marketing teams costs B2B businesses 10% of lost revenue every year.
Marketing and Sales should work more closely together than any other teams or departments within a business – but the reality is that a shocking one in four businesses say that their sales team and marketing team are “misaligned” (HubSpot). Sales insists that Marketing is not providing enough leads, while Marketing claims that Sales is not making the most of the leads it does provide. Sales loses prospects due to a lack of relevant content to give them, while Marketing argues that its content is not being used to its full potential. Both teams can play the blame game all day – but what is the truth?
360° Collaboration is Revolutionary
The truth is that Marketing and Sales work best when they are given the tools to work as two essential parts of one machine, with 360° cohesion and collaboration between both teams. Rather than Marketing simply passing leads on for Sales to close the sale upon, a 360° collaboration means that cooperation between both teams is ongoing: Sales feeds back to Marketing the results of the meeting with the prospect, Marketing uses the feedback to improve and refine communications, and collaboration continues with each prospect.
Some business owners reading this post will naturally conclude that the best way to create a truly cohesive Sales and Marketing environment is to merge the two teams together into one job function. However, this approach is a dead end.
As we said in our blog piece Sales and Marketing: 2 Different Functions, Sales and Marketing are reliant on each other – but they are fundamentally different. This is more true than ever today, with the previous decade having transformed the face of both Marketing and Sales. In order to know how Marketing and Sales can work together, we need to know how they have changed.
How Has the Marketing Function Changed?
Marketing has transformed within a decade, with constantly evolving technology paving the way for innovative new approaches.
Historically, marketing has utilised tried and true techniques such as advertising, direct mail and more recently SEO tactics to ensure a website hits the top of Google. Unfortunately the skills and knowledge required in modern marketing easily surpass the skills and knowledge that even the most talented and experienced marketing manager can possibly possess on their own.
SEO is a good example of this conundrum. Getting a website to the top of Google is no longer a matter of ensuring the website’s text is rich in keywords – it has become a complex game of chess with Google’s constantly shifting algorithm. Achieving the number one spot on Google now involves knowledge, persistence and ethical tactics over a longer period of time – and it’s a full-time job.
When we refer to “marketing” we are discussing many different activities – social media activity, email campaigns, magazine editorials, direct mail, and more. Like website marketing, each of these fields has seen such a great degree of development over the past five years that they can no longer be relegated to a third, a quarter or even half of the workload of the average marketing employee. Each is its own full-time job, requiring not only specialist expertise but the scarcest labour resource of all: time.
The Marketing to Sales Baton Pass
One of the biggest changes to marketing is how it is now possible to combine different marketing methods together to prime a prospect for the sales team.
Here at GMA we utilise advanced website tracking codes, which can pick up the fixed IP address of any business visiting a website or landing page. These IP addresses can be monitored by our team on a daily basis – but an IP address is of little use on its own.
However, by bringing LinkedIn Sales Navigator into our process, we have a wealth of information underneath our fingertips. Once a fixed IP address has given us the name of the visiting business, we can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find the right prospect from that business. The navigator can give our team a list of employees working at that business – and from there, we can find the name, job title, and contact details of our most promising prospect.
At this stage, a good marketing team might pass the information along to Sales – but a great marketing team will go one step further.
We send our chosen prospect a LinkedIn mail introducing ourselves and what we offer – and we follow up our introductory mail with a call from our telemarketing team. After finding out what our prospect is looking for and giving them a preview into how we can help them, we arrange for them to meet with Sales.
Particularly canny readers may be asking themselves how GDPR laws affect strategies like this – and we’re glad you asked. GDPR law states that B2B marketing is lawful so long as there is a legitimate interest involved. For example, a business manufacturing textile production machinery can reasonably assume a business producing and distributing yarn and cloth has a legitimate interest in its services, and can therefore contact them without falling foul of GDPR law. That same business may find more scrutiny applied to it if it begins contacting businesses in the automotive industry.
According to HubSpot, 33% of salespeople say their biggest struggle is prospecting. This is because they are receiving prospects who have not been properly prepared by Marketing. Here at GMA we think of it like a relay race: in order for Sales to fully grasp the baton, Marketing needs to gather enough speed to get it to them first.
How Has the Sales Function Changed?
Marketing is not the only discipline that’s changed. Sales has also made some big changes, and sales teams that cannot keep up are quickly finding themselves being left behind.
The traditional “back of the cigarette packet” approach is long gone: sales meetings are no longer a simple chit-chat with a prospect, and for the majority of transactional businesses, particularly e-Commerce businesses, open quotes over a particular age are useless. In fact, some organisations will even remove leads over a certain age from their reporting.
What Are Your Chances of Making a Sale 40 Days After an Enquiry?
Figures are based on our experience with enquiries made to short-term transactional B2B businesses.
A sales gestation period – the average time it takes to convert a customer’s enquiry into a sale – is different for each business, but there is an average time for each type of business. It’s likely your business fits into one of the following categories:
How long does it take to convert an enquiry to a sale? Instant
e-Commerce businesses win or lose sales in the click of a button. Time is of the essence here.
Short-term transactional B2B
How long does it take to convert an enquiry to a sale? 30 days
This is one of the most common types of business, which is why we have used it in our example graph.
Capital Expenditure B2B
How long does it take to convert an enquiry to a sale? 60 – 90 days
Due to the nature of CapEx, enquiries typically take longer to convert into sales.
Ongoing Service/Tender B2B
How long does it take to convert an enquiry to a sale? One to three years
If a business provides services over an ongoing contract, it’s a matter of waiting for that contract to end before encouraging repeat business.
Of course, these are average times – when it comes to business, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, so your average sales gestation time may differ. However, it’s vital that you and your sales team know what your average sales gestation period is.
The Return of Sales
The modern sales world has seen the return of the true salesperson replacing the order makers of the past.
The world of sales has become a more technology-driven process, with the use of CRM systems to manage sales teams, and mobile technology for live data. The sales function has become a faster, more urgent process too, with newer leads being given much higher priority.
In a faster-paced, more competitive world, salespeople are undergoing more training than ever before in order to understand the wants and needs of buyers. A good salesperson understands that listening to the buyer means using their eyes as well as their ears – what a buyer says and what a buyer means are sometimes very different. The misconception among many salespeople that buyers are always concerned about price before any other aspect still remains – but more and more sales teams are recognising that two completely different approaches are required to sell to both price-focused buyers and technical buyers.
How Can Sales and Marketing Work Together?
The secret behind a cohesive Marketing and Sales joint effort is your business strategy. This is something that every business should have, and yet many lack entirely.
Your business strategy might not be a fifty-page detailed marketing plan based around a due diligence fact-finding session of the kind we create for our clients here at GMA. It might be a simple set of bullet points containing your targets for each year in turnover, operation efficiency, finance, quality and service. Yet no matter how simple you make it, it is essential.
A good business plan is one that is tangible. For example, it is of little use to simply say that you wish to reduce complaints. Not only can this not be meaningfully measured, it is so vague that it is difficult for any team to live up to. Instead, create a measurable goal – “reduce complaints by 80%” or “increase turnover by 20%”.
Once these defined goals have been created, Marketing’s annual efforts should be focused around making these goals a reality. Be realistic: if you wish to grow by 20%, then it is highly unlikely that Marketing can achieve this with a time and expenses budget that allows them to do little more than send out 200 flyers twice a year.
A truly effective marketing strategy should be developed only after consulting your sales team, as most of what your marketing team does will be with the aim of generating leads for Sales. Of course, this is not always the case – but in most cases the goal of marketing is to provide enquiries and leads for your sales team to capitalise upon.
The Power of Understanding Market Size
Knowing your market size is extremely powerful, but it’s a piece of knowledge most businesses lack.
You can spend hours developing a business strategy, putting aside funding to design and implement that strategy, and working with both Marketing and Sales to refine your approach – and after all of that work, realise your total market size numbers just 100,000 potentials, with only 1000 real prospects available to you. By understanding your market size, you understand how many prospects you can sell to in your target region, and more importantly, how many are likely prospects for your sales team.
Understanding your market size will also help you with a key exercise that will form the backbone of your marketing plan: understanding how many leads Marketing needs to find.
This is achieved by knowing several key facts: your average order value, and your conversion rate of enquiries to orders.
For example, if your average order value is £1000, and you convert every 50 in 100 leads into a sale, you now know that to generate approximately £50,000 in revenue you need to find 100 leads (converting at 50%).
You can try this thought exercise for yourself right now: if you wanted to generate a turnover of £1,000,000, how many leads would you need to find?
A good marketing strategy will clearly explain how it can achieve the number of leads you require to reach your target turnover. There will be times when a plan cannot realistically achieve your targets, and when that happens it’s time to rethink things: do you need to put more time and budget into your marketing, or do you need to trim your target?
Today’s Marketing and Sales
A skilled, hungry sales team with access to good training is a powerful asset, and one that should not be underestimated – but that sales team needs a steady supply of new leads. Repeat business is always a good thing, but are your sales team order takers or order makers?
Marketing today is very different to the marketing of the past, and it has become impossible for one individual – no matter how talented – to take care of everything a strong marketing campaign involves. Modern marketing requires a team, with specialists in social media, website design, telemarketing and more – but this is expensive. In fact, it is so expensive that it is unreasonable to ask of the average SME, and yet it is necessary to succeed in the modern market.
However, while an SME may not have the budget to hire and staff its own fully-fledged marketing team, what is possible is hiring an outsourced marketing agency. GMA was created to be a simpler, more cost-efficient answer to marketing – “plugging in” to businesses to provide the marketing expertise that’s required to succeed in the modern market.
What makes GMA different is our Discovery Sessions. A Discovery Session sees GMA Managing Director Dean Spencer travel to wherever your business is based for an in-depth look at who you are and what you do, so we can gain the insight we need to create a bullet-proof marketing plan that will help you and your sales team meet your targets.
How often do you fail your sales targets? When was the last time you were able to say you not only met your targets but exceeded them? Is your marketing approach fully integrated with your sales team, and do your sales team get the support they need from your marketing? We want to help you. Contact us for expert help to create and meet your business targets.