What Does Sales Need and Want From Marketing? Televerde Survey 2017
While Sales and Marketing alignment shows signs of improvement, emerging challenges require a new focus and even better collaborative approaches to deliver an optimal buyer experience.
Marketers, the business world’s storytellers, provide Sales with narratives, case studies, value propositions and a host of tools to drive leads and revenue. Alignment between Marketing and Sales priorities can make the difference between a healthy pipeline of sales opportunities and a company that misses its revenue goals. An absence of sales and marketing alignment hinders true partnerships for both product and service providers in the high-tech arena.
Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoyed 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates. MarketingProfs
How does Sales view Marketing? Do sales professionals feel Sales and Marketing are in sync? Televerde asked sales executives to share their opinions in its recent What Does Sales Need & Want From Marketing survey. This survey was conducted to gain actionable insight directly from Sales to improve sales and marketing alignment.
Survey results show the gap between sales and marketing narrowing (finally). The state of Sales and Marketing alignment isn’t as bleak as it was 5 years ago. A majority of sales professionals think that Sales and Marketing are aligned at their companies, and more than 75% characterize the leads they receive from Marketing as “good” to “excellent.”
Overall, sales and marketing professionals meet with their counterparts regularly, with the top marketing and sales leaders meeting monthly or more often. However, it appears that the sales pipeline is not consistently on the agenda at these meetings. This could be the reason that, while 46% of sales professionals think that sales is aligned with marketing, one-fifth of respondents don’t think they’re aligned at all. .
The survey sheds light on reasons Sales thinks deals are won (best product, easy to work with, and best ROI) and reasons they are lost (price, value not conveyed, and wrong solution). The survey results highlights areas Sales would like Marketing to focus on to better influence sales outcomes.
74% of Best-in-Class organizations have complete or strong marketing and sales alignment. Aberdeen Group
New, intensifying obstacles to Sales and Marketing alignment indicate the two disciplines need to recommit to alignment and adopt new strategies to drive sales success. Understanding what Sales values most will help marketers focus their efforts, enabling them to develop strategies and deliver tactics that help Sales close more deals.
Account Based Management tactics and Service Level Agreements are two approaches that enable Sales and Marketing to forge tighter bonds and foster ever closer alignment to deliver solutions that buyers want.
Televerde fielded the What Does Sales Need & Want From Marketing survey between January 19-31, 2017. More than 200 sales leaders who sell B2B products or services were queried, with 62% holding the Sales Director/Manager or CSO/VP Sales title. Company size varied with 25% of respondents working for companies with revenues of $1B or more; 17% $250M-$999M; 10% $51M – $249M; 12% $26M-$50M; 25% $5M-25M; 14% $5M or less.
The survey’s key questions included:
B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams costs them 10% or more in revenue per year. IDC
Key findings of What Does Sales Need & Want From Marketing
Inching towards greater alignment
Grievances about lack of alignment between sales and marketing have long been endemic throughout the industry. In reality, alignment has improved. For example…
A majority (62%) of sales professionals feel Sales and Marketing are aligned at their companies, with 18% declaring they are very aligned.
When asked “How would you characterize the quality of the leads generated through Marketing activities?” 77% of respondents said they are “good” to “excellent.” Furthermore, sales professionals identify that more than a third of new leads are driven by Marketing initiated activity.
These answers contradict the notion that sales and marketing are worlds apart. Perhaps the negative feelings about Sales and Marketing alignment is an example of the age-old principle that bad has more power than good, negative impressions are quicker to form, and are more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.
“I’ve worked in the tech industry in various roles and with a variety of companies for close to 30 years. It’s only been within the last five years or so that I’ve seen a demonstrable improvement in the quality and quantity of leads delivered by marketing that have moved successfully through the funnel to close. Perhaps it is partly due to evolving marketing technologies, but I can see that sales and marketing alignment contributes greatly to sales success.” – customer quote?
Room for improvement
What is impeding closer alignment? When asked “What are the biggest challenges in aligning Sales with Marketing?” The four top responses (out of 10 choices) were the lack of regular communication (37%), differences in the way sales and marketing successes are measured (33%) the lead qualification process (30%), and differences in what’s important (27%).
Communication between the two disciplines could be better. While close to 40% meet weekly or daily, 44% of sales professionals meet with their marketing counterparts monthly at best.
When asked “How well does Marketing understand the product you sell?” Sales thinks Marketing does well, with more than 90% of respondents believing that Marketing has a reasonable understanding of the product set. Ideally, Sales and Marketing should be in tandem at 100% understanding.
when asked “How would you describe your Sales organization relationship with Marketing,” 24% say it’s a “great partnership” and 33% say there’s “healthy debate and discussion,” but, distressingly, 38% say it’s “hit or miss.”
Marketers “usually” (45%) or “sometimes” (36%) deliver on the tools/assets/activities promised. This isn’t good enough. Marketers need to “always” deliver or not promise on what they cannot, or choose not to, deliver. This is an area where Service Level Agreements can be a tremendous asset. Marketing and Sales need to come to an agreement together about optimal tools/assets/activities so what is ultimately promised can be delivered and yields desired results.
Listen Up Marketing. Sales is Telling You What It Needs
Several survey questions elicited responses that Marketers should use as a guide to improve their strategies and deliverables.
When asked “Why do you most often win deals?” Sales identifies “best product” (43%), “best at knowing customer needs (38%), “easy to work with” (37%), and “best ROI” (35%). (Respondents could select up to three answers.) When asked “Why do you most often lose deals,” the top three responses are “not price competitive” (52%), “value not conveyed” (47%), and “solution set not a match” (35%).
Taken together, the responses to these two questions provide strong direction for What can they do to get savvier about customer needs? To improve how value is conveyed? To demonstrate ROI? Insights such as these will yield, in the future, better answers to questions like “How well does Marketing understand the Sales challenges that you face?” and “How well does Marketing understand the product set you sell?”
On the tactics front, the survey clearly lays out the marketing tools/assets/activities Sales finds most useful. Prompted to choose “all that apply,” respondents chose:
(insert graph created from Q13)
The survey revealed other insights when respondents answered the question “What can Marketing do to help you win more deals?” It’s not surprising Sales wants “more qualified leads” because that will always be the case. However, Marketing should take note that Sales would like “better messaging” from marketing, for marketing to attend “more industry and influencer events,” and for marketing to build a “better website.” Again, Service Level Agreements will lead to more construction conversations about the marketing “pipeline,” the tactics and activities Marketing delivers to Sales.
(insert graph created from Q18)
New obstacles to sales/marketing alignment
“B2B firms that fully understand this buyer-driven edict will put specific organizational, marketing and enablement strategies in place to meet buyers on their own terms.” (Source: Forrester’s 2017 B2B Buyers Mandate a New Charter for Marketing and Sales.)
While results of What Does Sales Need & Want from Marketing are more promising than similar surveys, the charge to drive closer alignment has never been more important. New challenges to the Marketing/Sales/Buyer journey are threatening to wipe out any gains we’ve made in the last five years. The top challenges include:
Taking Action to Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment
Companies with “dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes” reported an average of 10% more sales people on-quota compared to other companies. CSO Insights
“Sales professionals must deliver a customer-specific solution to enable B2B customers to achieve their business objectives. They can’t do this without the data-oriented, analytical and creative strengths marketing brings to the table. The branding, website content and campaigns marketing produces must be coordinated with the messaging sales uses to meet the needs of B2B buyers.” Jim Thorburn
Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies enable marketers to deliver increased value. ABM requires that Sales and Marketing take a joint, focused approach, with collaboration and communication centering on deep penetration into a set of selected accounts. This strategic approach requires collaborative resources from both groups, but ensures that targeted accounts are a match between solution and need.
Addressing the needs and wants of Sales is critical to nurturing and growing a customer pipeline. Collaboration between Marketing and Sales at all levels of responsibility and integration of strategies and tactics along the buyer journey is critical. Service Level Agreements (SLA), a contract between Sales and Marketing, ensures clearly articulated definitions of processes and measurement to ensure joint goals and objectives. SLA’s around criteria for lead qualification and defining a ‘source of truth’ for data insights and reporting will smooth the alignment process.
To ensure collaboration, a regular cadence of communications & meeting for all Sales and Marketing needs to happen. Perhaps top leaders will meet more often, but to align the focus, messaging, materials and approach between both teams, it’s important for all members of both teams to meet on a regular basis as well. Together they need to address the state of the pipeline and key accounts, as well as initiatives completed, in progress or needed.
Sales and Marketing can improve alignment by taking key steps within the relationship:
Televerde is a global demand generation company that provides sales and marketing solutions designed to acquire new business and accelerate revenue. We serve as strategic partners for our clients, dedicated to delivering exceptional results from the moment leads enter the sales pipeline to close. By offering proven solutions in the areas of marketing technology services, strategic engagement planning, data intelligence, demand generation, teleservices and inside sales, Televerde has helped a wide range of large and mid-sized companies around the world generate over $8 billion in revenue. www.televerde.com
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Author: Jenelle Butler