Sales and Marketing should always be working towards the same goal: securing business and helping their technology firm grow. Candidly, this is probably one of the most challenging things for tech companies to master.
Before we get into the subject of Sales and Marketing, you should know that Sales and Marketing impacts the value of your business by as much as 20%. So many companies leave real transaction dollars on the table because they have not invested in or really understand the value that effectives Sales and Marketing brings to the organization.
But how they accomplish this differs significantly.
Let’s define a healthy sales process.
Believe it or not, we’ve found that everyone’s definition is a bit different.
So, we’re going to clearly define it for you so we’re working from the same playbook when talking about how sales should be growing your firm.
Sales is a direct process in which your sales team talks to prospects (suspects) and guides them down a sales funnel towards a buying decision.
This might be in person, over the phone, Zoom, website chat tool, or another medium like email or social media. Your sales cycle (sales process) might be a long one, happening with multiple conversations in which you and your sales team learn about the customer and their pain points, helping them understand how your solution can guide them to success they aren’t currently experiencing.
It also might be shorter in nature, consisting of a single conversation in which the salesperson lays out the terms of the deal and bam, you have a baby sale that’s born.
The sales game has changed somewhat in recent years, especially during the pandemic, with face-to-face, or field sales, still accounting for 54.5% of the sales force.
The selling part may be relatively unchanged but the buying part of the equation has gone through a transformation in the past decade or so, especially with your tech buyers knowing more before they buy because they can easily get educated via the web.
Let’s define a healthy marketing process.
Marketing is a much more holistic process that is designed to increase awareness of a brand or product to your ideal buyer.
Rarely will a marketer or copywriter deal one-on-one with a customer, in terms of “selling them”….and do you really want someone from your copywriting team who deals in oxford commas all day long, pitching a five-figure or six-figure deal?
We thought not.
The methods, tactics, and channels used by your marketing department look very little like they did even 15 years ago. Barry Judge, the former Chief Marketing Officer at Best Buy, gave a talk a few years back about the future of advertising. At the event, he noted there were only four mediums when he first started in the ad agency world: print, billboard, television, and radio.
Today, it’s primarily digital, including (but not limited to):
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Organic traffic and search engine optimization (SEO)
- Paid ads
- And video
By 2023, digital ad spend is expected to exceed $201 billion. This is almost double the level recorded in 2018.
Regardless of how, marketing’s goal is to generate “leads” that the sales teams should be pursuing and converting into appointments, adding them to the top of their sales funnels.
Unfortunately, that’s often where the relationship between the two departments ends.
We’ve found that there’s six main obstacles to sales and marketing misalignment:
- Lack of accurate/shared data on prospects (43%)
- Communication (43%)
- Use of different metrics (41%)
- Broken/flawed processes (37%)
- Lack of accountability on both sides (25%)
- Reporting challenges (21%)
The modern Sales and Marketing funnel demands better collaboration and communication between the two, especially if your tech firm is going into growth mode.
What happens when Sales & Marketing work together?
Marketing and Sales are both really important in their own right.
No one – myself included – is going to argue with that. That said, they are far, far more powerful when united.
You and your sales team are able to gain first-hand knowledge of prospects and their sales objections – much of which would be difficult, if not impossible, to gain any other way. Marketing is likely to have hard data that shows what sort of information, content, or language customers and potential customers respond to. These two need a strategic alignment in marrying this information for a powerful end-result.
Unfortunately, too many companies let Marketing and Sales operate as entirely separate entities. This is a huge oversight and missed opportunity, because they are so much better together than working apart. They complement each other in a way nothing else can.
Three levels of Sales & Marketing alignment.
At iT Valuations, we’ve found that Sales and Marketing alignment won’t fall into place by itself, or overnight.
There are three levels you must address before these two critical business functions start working effectively together:
- The Emotional Level: Your Sales and Marketing teams should get along, have each other’s backs, and shouldn’t be perpetually at one another’s throats. You’re trying to build a “best friends” relationship, not a “brother-sister” relationship.
- The Process Level: There must be a strategic process where you publish clear messaging, have a documented publishing process that’s consistent, and ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction. The person who’s leading your marketing efforts must have a process to check basic things like grammar, but also be willing to outline new, creative strategies that yield ROI.
- The Feedback Loop Level: Marketing doesn’t always have to produce millions of dollars worth of leads, although that’d be great if they did. They’re imperfect beings just like you and I are. But it IS important that there be some sort of method for regular feedback. Sales is on the front lines, for example, and may run across a topic about Cybersecurity, or a Telecom function, or SaaS integration that needs to be talked about in a marketing campaign. Marketing needs to hear that and that feedback is really important to share. Create a culture where these two aspects of your business align and growth will happen.
How to start marketing your tech firm.
Everyone seems to be an expert, we’ve found.
But, when the rubber meets the road, very few marketing professionals we talk with can execute successful marketing strategies.
Here’s the process that we’ve seen work, countless times before, and one you’re welcome to adopt.
First, you need a project plan and an initial meeting ( then regular cadence of meetings) where your staff communicates what you’re doing and why.
Next, create your ideal buying persona. This is where you create a fictional representation of your ideal buyer, their demographics, location, title, and pain points you can solve for them.
After that, you want to define your sales funnel process where you identify what constitutes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). These are important to differentiate because you’ll run into friction between your two teams if you don’t. For instance, MQL’s are critical because they fill the top of the sales funnel for your sales team. SQL’s are warmer leads that sales can close quickly, and are a necessary part of your growth strategy. Without defining these, it’ll be tough to measure and manage your KPI’s and even tougher to get alignment for growth.
Next, create and document this in a formal marketing strategy document. After that, you’ll need to create a content publishing calendar that shows you what’s being done, published, where, and when.
Finally, your Sales and Marketing teams need to be held accountable. You should have about 5-6 metrics that you utilize to measure both departments.
Marketing technology is great, like marketing automation, but you must get the rest in place first, then focus on the right tools for execution.
Once these pieces are in place, then you can begin the process of aligning your marketing strategy to your overall growth strategy, market, and services/solutions.
At iTV, we help firms like yours determine value when it matters most, so you can find the best tech firm to partner with through acquisition. Click here to get started.