50% of B2B sales staff keep missing their quotas. It’s a problem as old as business itself. The culprit, according to sales, is the quality and volume of leads from marketing. The marketing department may be quick to snap back that sales is ignoring their leads or not trying hard enough to close them.
When the squabbling causes the revenue pipeline to become even more unpredictable, that gets the CEO’s attention. The CEO’s default playbook calls for routinely firing the underperforming ten percent, walking the Sales (or Marketing) Vice President out the door or hiring more salespeople. After all, doubling the number of salespeople will double revenue right? Wrong.
Increased pressure and turnover creates more tension between the two departments. Sales blames marketing for their coworkers being let go. Marketing’s budget eliminates important branding activities and all their resources become focused on demand generation in an effort to avoid blame by sales. Both departments view success through the prism of how to cover their derrières and stay employed. The company and its revenue pipeline drowns in politics, suffocating and becomes myopically focused on: “If only the prospect would try it. They’d then see how badly they need our product.”
The problem is not the compensation plan or lead scoring criteria, but how the customer is being treated. Is the buyer viewed as a partner, a nuisance to be tolerated, or the raison d’etre of the business?Leads, closed deals, process, incentives and hand-offs are all internal metrics of running a business; it is the buyer who decides when they (the lead) turn into revenue. While sales and marketing squabble, the customer becomes increasingly unhappy with their sales interactions which are considered unproductive 97 percent of the time. This is an important metric, because it’s the best measure of why buyers are or aren’t making purchases.
According to Peppers & Roberts Group, 81% of companies with strong customer experience competencies outperform their competition. CEOs that build their organization’s processes, technology and culture around the experience buyers want and value outperform their peers. That starts by aligning sales and marketing, not by resolving differences between them, but by resolving differences between them and the buyer.
Sales may not be waning because of shortcomings in staff, but because the vendor’s marketing strategy and sales methodology hasn’t adjusted to changes in customers and their purchasing process. Today 80% of B2B purchase cycles are completed before the buyer considers contacting the vendor and, even then, they are loath to do so. Sales may feel their role is to sell the product, but New Business Strategies research consistently shows that buyers prioritize relationships and trust over product and price.
Over the last decade, buyers have unprecedented access to independent reviews, peers, analyst and independent sources of information. As a result, sales no longer chaperones buyers through their purchasing process, but buyers instead go through a self-directed process the vendor can enable. Buyers are contacting sales to establish a relationship, test their chemistry and see if they can trust the vendor.
Want to align marketing and sales? Align them both with the customer.