Marketing and Sales should work together to reach tough targets. Believe it or not, this was once considered a crazy idea. As more enterprises buy in to the inbound marketing movement, they’re seeing the difference it makes!
So, let’s share a secret – you could even call it a confession:
At the end of the day, it’s all about sales.
Wait! That doesn’t mean marketing doesn’t matter – on the contrary. Modern inbound strategy means the marketing team is one of the biggest facilitators of sales.
After all, the right tools and insights let marketers practically automate the buyers journey.
But when all is said and done, if you’re not making enough sales, your business just isn’t succeeding. And, as we all know, B2B sales are complicated. By most estimates, the average B2B sales cycle is getting longer – several weeks longer each and every year.
With that in mind, you’ve got to go the distance with B2B sales best practices.
Get Serious About Prospect Follow-Up
Following up is an essential part of winning B2B sales, but it’s also one of the most neglected. It’s been estimated 80% of sales require five follow-ups, but most sales pros only make it to one before moving on to greener pastures. That could mean leaving millions on the table!
Here’s the plus side: With inbound marketing in your corner, you might not need five follow-ups. Your prospects will be moving themselves toward the finish line by checking out your useful Web content and engaging with your brand.
But – virtually all prospects need someone to help them take the leap.
That someone is sales.
Revisit Those Buyer Personas
When you’re first starting out in inbound marketing, buyer personas are the seeds your entire strategy sprouts from. When you start capturing results, it’s easy to assume your personas are on target. Over time, though, they’re sure to shift.
This is one of the most vital places for sales and marketing pros to put their heads together.
Marketers have an opportunity to look at the big picture – market trends and data streams from your Web properties, for example. But only sales pros have the day-to-day experience that comes from dealing with objections and seeing how prospect thinking changes in real time.
If you do nothing else on this list, find time to update your buyer personas. That will ensure that whatever your sales strategy is, it’s more likely to stay on track the rest of the year.
Collect Even More Data – And Use It
Marketers have more data than ever when it comes to how prospects interact with a company’s Web properties – but sales needs in on the action. When user behavior data is disseminated to sales, you can customize your discovery call to the prospect’s specific needs and interests.
The problem? Interpreting and reporting all that data.
There are a few ways to get past the reporting bottleneck. One is to set up regular meetings that include sales and marketing, so the marketing team keeps the data on its side of the house. Another is to find a sales ambassador who wants to dive into the data.
However you do it, the goal is to process fresh data fast enough to connect it to the prospects you’ll be talking to soon. That means having a closed loop for data reporting. The path you walk getting there will look different in every case.
Smooth Out the Rough Spots in Sales
Like most complex endeavors, sales is a many-headed beast. There are lots of high performers, but nobody is good at every aspect of it. This can be a hard truth, but when you accept it, you’re one step closer to making the world a better place ... and getting more B2B sales, too.
Finding the most efficient way to improve performance means having frank talks about what’s working and what could be better – sometimes, that can be difficult.
If sales reps finger follow-up as the biggest problem, consider technology tools like a Customer Relationship Management suite to make things easier. If they name another culprit, don’t be afraid to boldly follow where their feedback leads. Not only will sales usually go up, but actively participating in building the sales organization can boost morale, too.