Death of the Salesman? Hardly. How to Resolve the Sales and Marketing Disconnect

    It’s an exciting time to be in marketing, with more tools and data tied to our efforts than ever before. Where marketing once provided outbound efforts but couldn’t measure real results, today’s Marketing teams have access to digital tools that measure a company’s inbound and outbound footprint, as well as data tied to web traffic, email click-through rates and more.

    With all of this data, marketers today often claim that between 40 to 70 percent of a business transaction is completed before a salesperson even speaks to a customer. An estimated 75 percent of B2B buyers say that buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative, according to Forrester’s report Death of a (B2B) Salesperson. The report also says 93 percent prefer buying online rather than from a salesperson.

    Yet findings such as this, new digital marketing tools and content marketing oriented toward the “buyer’s journey,” have pumped false confidence into marketers.

    Of course, content marketing does help to engage and drive leads through all phases of the marketing funnel, or buyer’s journey. And with marketing automation tools, each person that visits a webpage, fills out a form, downloads a piece of content like a white paper, or asks to be contacted, is given a tag as either a prospect or marketing qualified lead. Once marketing believes the qualified lead has the budget and intention to buy, this marketing qualified lead is passed on to sales.

    However great this may sound (especially if you work in Marketing) this process has an inherent flaw. Those in Marketing often think that our metrics, analytics and generated leads provide the exact targeted insight that a salesperson needs to close deals. Yet the fact is we don’t always get it right. The reason is that we often ignore key data that sales glean so easily.

    Those who work in Sales are “on the street,” talking with buyers and learning about their needs and concerns. They understand the real-world pain points of the buyers as well as what business and technology issues they are trying to resolve, whereas marketing relies extensively on third-party research and metrics.

    This disconnect between Marketing and Sales has widened as marketing has become more reliant on digital tools that provide a tremendous amount of information, but not necessarily the right information sales teams need to close buyers.  While our reach has extended, marketing has become more insulated, leaving out of the process one of the most valuable insights we have at our disposal: customer insights from sales.

    To resolve this disconnect, Marketing and Sales need to be in lockstep as they design campaigns and content that nurture buyers and hasten their journey through toward a successful sale.  

    My next blog will focus on the false perception that 40 to 70 percent of buyers have made their decision before they even engage with Sales. It will also delve into the incorrect assumption that there is a difference between inbound and outbound marketing and its value.

    I’d love to hear your opinions on this topic. Follow me on Twitter - @MarkRobertsCMO

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