Far too many companies treat their B2B sales and marketing departments as two completely separate entities. Marketing generates leads and sales closes customers – never the twain shall meet.
However, siloing departments like this can cause friction in your brand’s messaging and result in high quality leads being left on the table.
Instead, when sales and marketing work together in harmony is when the real magic happens. Yes, in essence, marketing is still drumming up the leads and sales is closing them, but a sales team set up with the materials and resources to continue nurturing the leads as they move down the funnel is a truly powerful one, and one that will result in more customers.
How B2B Sales Marketing Can Help You Convert More Leads into Customers
How Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Set Up Right Now?
First, let’s look at the typical structure for B2B sales and marketing.
We all know that B2B marketing’s role is to bring in those sweet, sweet leads that sales needs to convert into customers. However, people don’t start off as leads.
There are a number of channels and tactics that marketers use to attract the right audience who would be more open to the idea of discussing a product with a sales rep somewhere down the line.
- Social Media may seem like a B2C centric channel, but it’s a core tenet of modern B2B marketing. Simply put, your audience is using social media, so it’s a no-brainer that you should be trying to reach them there.
- Inbound and Content Marketing are huge lead generation tactics for B2B marketers. In essence, the idea is that you attract people to your website with the content you create, and they convert on a form you’ve included for future communication from you.
- Email Marketing is still one of the most efficient and cost-effective methods of lead generation in a B2B marketer’s arsenal these days and allows you to nurture your subscribers and reach a large group of targeted contacts and convert them into warm, opted-in leads
These are just a few of the methods that B2B marketers use to attract people to their website or reach them with messaging intended to pique their interest enough to move down the marketing funnel, and into the hands of sales.
Now, this rundown is pretty basic, and the intricacies of each way B2B marketing generates leads for the sales team is far outside the scope of this article, but the point I’m trying to make is that when one thinks of B2B marketing, they typically think of warming people up to the idea of speaking to sales.
Big-screen portrayals of the life of a salesperson (I’m looking at you Glengarry Glen Ross) would have you believe that once the lead is in their hands, all it takes is for them to sweet talk their way into a sale.
While, sure, some people are silver-tongued and able to more naturally charm their way into closing a deal, most of the time it doesn’t work like this.
Now more than ever, people are conducting their own research, and coming to demos and sales calls with more pertinent questions about the product.
People are relying less and less on a salesperson to tell them what makes their product so great due to the wealth of information that’s available to them at any given moment.
Marketing Shouldn’t Stop at Sales
This necessitates a salesperson’s ability to evolve, and a greater emphasis on sales and marketing working together to ensure their messages are aligned and that the marketing process doesn’t stop the moment a lead has been handed to sales.
It’s important that the sales team is set up with the resources necessary to continue to nurture the customer along their buyer’s journey.
If a lead has made it to the sales team, that means that they’re further along their journey than someone that has just entered the funnel, but don’t mistake that to mean they’re ready to purchase just yet.
They’re interested in your product, but with so many choices out there, the sales team is going to have to prove that your product is the right one to go with.
That’s where B2B sales marketing materials come into play. At this point, your lead is past the stage of reading articles tangentially related to your industry. They want to know how your product works – and more importantly – how it’s going to work for them.
Walk Your Customer Through Your Product
This is the stage where a live demo can be extremely valuable for your potential customer. Up to this point, your product has been largely conceptual to your lead, but being led through your software can allow them to visualize how they can solve problems with it.
This is also a great opportunity for your sales team to build a unique relationship with your customer. A salesperson’s job is exponentially easier if the customer feels like they’re talking to someone they know rather than just a faceless stranger.
Plus, an extended demo allows your customer to bring up issues, concerns, or hypothetical scenarios that the individual leading the demo would be able to address on the fly.
Put Your Product in Your Customer’s Hands
Similarly, setting your leads up with a timed trial of your software is a great B2B sales marketing tactic to excite your potential customers about using your product. Like the old retail trick of putting the product in your customers hands, people are much more likely to purchase something they’ve had an opportunity to play around with for a little while and get a feel for.
Of course, one of the most powerful tools your B2B sales team has is communication and rapport with the customer. The lead may not be ready to make a purchasing decision immediately after a demo or trial and that’s totally fine.
However, your sales team should be reaching out to them regularly to see if there are any objections to the product they can help overcome.
A sales rep might reach out to someone during their free trial to see how their experience is going and if they need any assistance with the software. Not only does this help the user better understand the product, they’ll likely appreciate the extra care their rep took to reach out to them during their trial.
It can also be helpful for the sales team to continue to provide useful material to contacts that have made their way to the sales stage of the marketing funnel.
User guides or case studies of how other companies have solved similar problems to the ones their contacts are facing can prove valuable, as well as keep the rep top of mind when the buyer needs to follow up with something regarding the software.
No Need to Get Discouraged
Of course, as everyone in the sales and marketing game knows, not every lead turns into a customer right away. Sometimes, a lead makes it all the way through a demo or free trial before deciding that they’re not ready to make a purchase.
This isn’t the end of the road, though. This just emphasizes the need for synergy between sales and marketing departments as now, armed with the information the sales team has gained about the contacts, they can return them to an earlier stage of the buyer’s journey, where the marketing team can begin to once again feed them content designed to pique their interest in speaking to sales.
This new information can help the marketing team better segment their email lists, or target with remarketing to accurately address the pain points or better portray the benefits of the product.
Now, when a lead makes it back to sales, they’re even more primed to hear what they’ve got to offer and will likely be more receptive to their presentations.
Additionally, if communication keeps up between departments, sales should also be equipped with the knowledge of how the leads have been remarketed to, so they can more efficiently deliver their messaging.
As you can see, the road from person to lead to customer isn’t necessarily a straight shot. It can be cyclical in nature, but one of the most important factors in getting your leads from A to B is the symbiotic relationship between marketing and sales.
The marketing process can’t end as soon as a lead has been passed on to sales. People are going to look for information about your company in the form of reviews and testimonials, so you might as well steer that conversation with B2B sales marketing materials that prove your value.
Opening a channel of communication between your marketing and sales teams can smooth out any resistance that might exist between the two departments and prevent siloing that would result in mixed messaging and, eventually, loss of conversions.
Just imagine how Shelley ‘The Machine’ Levene might have been able to perform if he had a better relationship with the team that drummed up the Glengarry leads. Coffee may be for closers, but when B2B sales and marketing teams work together, we all get to wet our beaks.