With rapid advances in data, technology, and digital marketing, the buyer’s journey from awareness to sale has become shorter. In just a few clicks online, buyers can order products or hire services. But while today’s digital age provides growing opportunities for businesses of all sizes, many still struggle to do so. Often, it is only a matter of bridging their sales and marketing gaps in the digital arena.
Sales and marketing are two of the main pillars of every business. They are the salt and pepper of the growing business recipe: too much of one and too little of the other will result in disaster.
If you want to transform your small or mid-sized business into a powerhouse company, you need to find the perfect combination of your business’ salt and pepper. The best way to do that is to bridge the gap between them.
Here at ALkries LLC, we will help you determine the sales and marketing gaps your business may have, as well as help you bridge and overcome them:
The Focus Gap
Many companies market their brand as customer-centric, and yet their sales practices clearly favor their business, not the customers. Their sales reps are so focused on hitting their quotas that they end up bombarding customers’ inboxes with irrelevant emails and calling them countless times about a product they have already purchased.
These practices not only discourage customers but also cause them to distrust the brand. Of course, when there’s distrust in brands, the marketing teams have to work harder to show the target audience that their focus is only to serve the customers — and then everything goes into an infinite loop.
If you’re stuck in that loop right now, there’s a way out. You need to keep the focus of your PPC advertising and other digital marketing efforts parallel with your sales practices. And you have to align them around customer experience.
Look at your buyer journey map. See if every stage delivers what your customer needs. Here’s an example of a simple yet efficient customer-centric buyer’s journey map:
- 1Shop. Give your target customers the information they need, quickly and effectively.
- 2Buy. Listen to your customers' needs, meet those needs, and make it easy for them to buy products from you or hire your services online.
- 3Get. Deliver what you've promised to meet your customer needs. Provide customer support, too.
- 4Pay. Bill your customer accurately, and give them options to pay you.
- 5Renew. Be proactive in such a way that you don't force your customers to buy again, but instead, help them think through their options.
When there is a tight connection between marketing and sales activities at the prospect and customer level, your quality leads will likely convert to sales and even turn into repeat customers. So, avoid creating buying experiences that serve your business more than your customers. Remember, annoying emails may force some of your clients to buy your product. But, they may never come back to purchase again, causing you to lose potential loyal customers who can bring long-term growth results for you.
The Connection Gap
In any business, the buyers are in control. They will decide the ideal buying path based on all the information you provide at every stage of the sales funnel. Since the decision is in their hands, buyers can back out at any minute, at any stage of their supposed buyer’s journey.
Your job is to get them to take favorable action at each stage, be it to click the “read more” button, request a quote, or add an item to a cart. That task, however, is not easy to fulfill if your marketing and sales efforts aren’t in line with connecting with your customers and guiding them towards the next stage of their buying decision.
Often, the connection gap occurs when your marketing efforts appeal to an audience different from what your sales funnel aims to convert, or your sales funnel doesn’t talk to your buyer personas.
Say, you offer email marketing automation services. Since you specialize in automation and efficiency, your target market would likely expect you to have a streamlined sales funnel, one with not too many steps. But then, when potential buyers go to your website, they have to click five or more links before they get to hire your services. How many of these prospective clients you think would opt out before the closing stage? Probably, a lot. Because apart from the fact that not all consumers get past each stage, you fail to have a sales funnel that suits the buying behavior of your target market.
If you’re a business owner with limited resources, it’s impossible to connect with each possible buyer persona at every stage of your sales funnel. But, here’s a way to bridge your connection gap: build content and customer experiences that address interesting moments or key inflection points common across all your possible buyer personas.
The Happiness Gap
Have you ever been stood up on a first date? It feels terrible. You made plans, you dressed up, and you went all the way downtown to meet them, but your date never showed up. You probably won’t give that person a chance to have another date with you. Such a feeling of disappointment is what your customers also feel when your sales and marketing have a happiness gap.
Parallel to each other, your marketing and sales practices must concentrate on making your customers happy to gain their trust. You’ll have to leave generic mass marketing behind and start embracing personalization. Think of how Netflix does its promotions and sales activities. Even on a free trial, customers get to have access to shows that they like.
Netflix invested in a range of behavioral and data experiments to come up with an algorithm that helps predict what subscribers and free trial users will likely want to watch on a given day. The suggestions may change the next day as this algorithm continuously learns more about the users. That hyper-personalized, predictive approach keeps most subscribers hooked. That’s the same thing that turns free-trial customers into loyal subscribers.
You may not offer the same service like Netflix, but you can provide hyper-personalized experience, as well, to make and keep your potential and existing customers happy. Deliver content that speaks to your target audience at a personal level. Let your marketing team predict your prospective consumer’s need before it arises, and have your sales team deliver a customized buying experience that addresses that need.
In today’s competitive digital arena, brands that treat customers like humans and bring them happiness stand out. And of course, they are also the ones that get more buyers than their competitors.
The Goals Gap
Picture this: it’s the end of the quarter. You talked to your marketing team and heard good news about them exceeding their goals for leads. But then, in a meeting with your sales head, you found out that your sales team failed to gain significant revenues this quarter, even if every member of the team has been working overtime for the last three months. What should you do?
The goals gap between sales and marketing is apparent when everyone is under pressure. It is when your marketing team butts head with the sales department over topics like lead volume, lead quality, and conversion rates. But, you can bridge that gap by making both teams focus on the same goal — revenue.
Twenty to 30 percent of an average salesperson’s time is wasted pursuing supposed qualified leads. Most companies are so focused on getting instant wins at the bottom of the sales funnel that they fail to fill their pipeline with long-term prospects that can drive major business growth. So, what you should do is this: get high revenues by encouraging your marketing team to deliver high-quality prospects that are qualified and ready to buy.
If leads aren’t at the actual buying stage yet, your marketing experts should nurture them with high-quality, personalized content and engage them in the right place at the right time across their entire buyer’s journey. This way, when these leads are ready to buy, they’ll be ripe for that first conversation with your sales team.
While they are different teams culturally, marketing and sales must work hand in hand to focus on revenue growth, instead of leads. But sometimes, change doesn’t come easy. After all, a creative marketing team that’s used to concentrating on clicks, impressions, and lead volume might feel threatened. You can start by getting both teams in a room and let them explore how a shared commitment to revenue can bring out the best in each of them.
The Transformation Gap
Once you made your sales and marketing departments to work together, there’s another gap you should watch out for — the transformation gap. As mentioned, change doesn’t come easy. Sometimes, even if sales and marketing has a common focus and goal, they still find themselves clashing with one another because of their difference in processes. But instead of forcing these departments to change their day-to-day operations, why not go for improved processes that unite both of their systems?
Here are three tips to transform your processes:
Use the Same Terminology
Get your sales and marketing teams to understand and use one definition of a lead, revenue, or a buyer’s journey. Then, create content and digital marketing campaigns, as well as workflows, that enable sales and marketing to generate qualified, revenue-yielding leads collaboratively.
Establish New Service Level Agreements or SLAs
SLAs are vital to any business organization as these set the tone for the relationship between departments and will govern if and when things break down. A good SLA is a perfect balance between being thorough and clear on one side, while not being overly arduous on the other side.
To close the infinite loop between your sales and marketing departments, establish new SLAs for how sales will provide feedback on each lead that marketing delivers so that marketing can continue to refine their contribution to generating revenues.
Start a New Way to Track Leads
Restructure your lead generation, qualification, and routing processes to feed leads to the right sales reps quickly. You may want to employ lead tracking and management software solutions. Make sure both teams use these apps so that once and for all, you stop losing track of your leads.
Remember, you can’t just give up on leads; you can nurture them until they are ready to turn into paying customers. That’s what Netflix does exactly with their email blasts to free-trial users, reminding them about the great benefits of subscription.
Do Content Marketing
Content marketing relies on creating valuable content that not only builds brand awareness but also attracts prospects by educating them toward a purchase decision. Have your sales reps share content (curated by your marketing team) via online marketing channels (picked by your marketing professionals) to reach and engage with high-quality leads.
Traditionally, content shared by marketing and sales teams differ in many aspects. But, with various types of hybrid content (or with the presence of hybrid marketers) today, both teams can fulfill their shared goals.
Closing these gaps means stopping buyers from saying phrases like “What is this company thinking? Their ads say one thing, their website says another, and their sales rep says yet another.” or “Do they have any clue who I am, and what I want?” When your marketing and sales departments send the same message, no consumer will feel confused or disappointed. It will then be easier for you to guide them through a buyer’s journey map that benefits them and your business.
In today’s digital age, when your sales and marketing teams work together with a shared set of focus, goals, and practices, your brand presence, customer experience, and conversion rates online will improve. Of course, that improvement leads to a steady growth in revenue and profit for your business.
If you want to learn more about thriving in the digital arena, feel free to contact us for a consultation.