It's an all-too-common story in today's business world: A successful company (we'll call it Company X) starts to see its influx of customers dwindle. Year after year, there's a small but significant decline in revenue. As a result, the CEO of Company X puts pressure on the sales director and CMO to turn things around. However, without a clear sales and marketing strategy in place, a ton of effort is expended without seeing a big return on investment.
All the while, Company X is still offering superior products compared to its competitors. Also, it's still providing exceptional customer service to existing clients. So what's the core issue that led to such a problematic situation? In many cases, it's a failure to take into account three key sales and marketing lessons, namely:
Let's dig into each one of these sales and marketing lessons. We'll examine how taking leadership of each one can positively impact your business in ways both big and small.
Lesson #1: Sales and Marketing Teams Must Adapt
Change can be difficult for anyone. That includes marketers and salespeople, especially if they've been used to doing things a certain way for several years. For instance: your marketing team may be used to throwing money at Google Ads every month or uploading two unconnected social media posts a day. However, even when the results no longer justify the process, they're reluctant to change the process.
Or maybe your sales team is getting a bunch of leads that want some more info on your product, but aren't quite ready to sign on the dotted line. Instead of gently probing to see what those prospects really need and why they're considering your business in the first place, your team members' first instinct is to tell them, "Call me when you're ready to buy."
Obviously, there are some key opportunities in these and other scenarios that need to be addressed. But any solution is going to require adaptation. Your marketers may need to shift their perspective to building a fan base rather than distributing ads. Similarly, your sales reps may need to lean into lead nurturing instead of just taking down orders.
The reality is the sales and marketing of yesteryear cannot effectively compete within the hyper-strategic, systematized digital age in which we live. Companies must be willing to adapt. Or they must accept the fact that they'll eventually become irrelevant. On the other hand, if you become a change agent for your teams in terms of strategy or process, then they will almost certainly be able to perform at a higher level than before.
Lesson #2: Sales and Marketing Are Experiencing Disruption
Two major changes have taken place in the world of sales and marketing recently. Let's briefly discuss each of them:
1. Buyers will research you before you ever speak with them.
Today's online buyers really have an embarrassment of riches in terms of the information that's available to them. They can easily visit your website and your social media profiles. However, they can just as easily see those of your top competitors. And they may stumble across your competition before even thinking about initiating contact with one of your team members.
Of course, the digital world is also saturated with spam, clickbait, scams, and automatic opt-ins. And buyers have become ever more discerning in terms of avoiding online dangers and annoyances. So, the task that's laid before your marketing team is to make your company as attractive as possible to prospects. At the same time, you must distance yourself from both legitimate competitors and scammers.
2. Competition has intensified, and adding value is mandatory.
Once you've effectively set up your company's digital presence to be found by interested prospects, the next big step is to add value to their customer journey. The specific value you're adding (whether it's a downloadable white paper, an online quote estimator, or even a free consultation) will obviously depend on the nature of your business.
The point is it's essential to offer value to your leads from the very beginning of their entry into your funnel. And you must continue to do so as you guide them through each stage of their journey. You can be sure that your competition will seek to add value to the consumer base. However, if you do the work, you'll be able to add more value and win more attention.
Lesson #3: Sales and Marketing Need Each Other (and Effective Leadership)
It's easy for sales and marketing to play the "blame game" with each other when things aren't going right — and especially if a "silo mentality" has crept into the company culture. However, whether your goal is to right the ship or to increase already healthy revenues, it's vital that sales and marketing coordinate their efforts around a unified strategy.
In this regard, two elements are indispensable:
1. Good Communication
Leaders have to ensure that there's a constant, open dialogue between sales and marketing. It may take regular interdepartmental meetings to get everyone on the same page (and keep them there). But it's well worth the effort.
2. Clearly Defined Roles
Some of the greatest friction that occurs between sales and marketing is in that transitional phase of the customer journey, when a marketing-qualified lead transforms into a sales-qualified lead. The good news is you can greatly reduce (or possibly even eliminate) that friction by developing and then communicating clearly defined roles for each team.
In general, your marketing team should be tasked with providing clear info to prospects, explaining the values and benefits of your product/service, and then outlining their next steps for working with sales. Once the lead has been handed off to sales, they should be able to answer questions, respond to concerns, and provide instructions on how the customer can get started. By working together in this way, with the help of active, unifying leadership, your sales and marketing teams can become a solid "one-two punch" for achieving your goals.
If you and your team take these three key sales and marketing lessons to heart, then you'll be in a much better position to reverse the trend of declining sales. Or, if your sales are already robust, you'll be able to improve them even further. And if you're willing to do the hard work, you'll almost certainly see a major ROI for your trouble.
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