The disconnect between Sales and Marketing is one of the most talked about problems in the B2B domain. A significant reason for this continuous focus on this problem could be the fact that companies are losing huge amounts of money because of this misalignment within their organizations.
Today, there is a huge increase in the number of channels marketing can use for creating brand awareness and for generating leads, they are also dealing with a more aware prospect base. Despite this, there is a visible shortfall in the number of quality leads generated by the marketing team.
To me, the reason is simple – a difference in individual perceptions on their activity’s life span, is where the disconnect between Sales and Marketing starts – for marketers, it tends to be a short sprint in terms of implementation of Lead Generation programs, but for Sales it is a marathon, with the sales cycle taking months and even years to close.
Christine Crandell (Christine sits on several advisory boards including Coupa & SDForum, and has held senior marketing positions at Egenera, Ariba, and many others) in an interview she points out some interesting statistics – “Telltale signs of misalignment can be seen in industry statistics for B2B sales: 80 percent of leads passed on to sales are dropped; 90 percent of marketing collateral is unused; and the total cost of winning a net new enterprise customer via direct sales carries a hefty price tag averaging $500,000”.
Marketing Automation platforms are projected as the simplest solution for resolving the sales and marketing dispute – considering they promise to keep both sales and marketing happy, by ensuring a sales funnel full with qualified leads. And if used optimally marketing automation can actually deliver extraordinary results in a short time-frame.
But there is a catch to this perfect scenario, current Marketing Automation vendors have polluted the market into thinking that email campaigns & work flow is the end of the responsibilities for the marketing department.
The problem with this thinking is that marketers assume that a constant barrage of emails with web behavior tracking of email recipients is enough to label them ‘sales ready leads’. Quite immature, I must say. If it was this easy, then email probably would have been the only marketing channel companies would have invested in.
Such thinking does not take into consideration that B2B is a group buying decision, where influencers play an equally important role as decision makers. So tracking the group effect over multiple touch-points including PR, webinars, blogs, channel, events, search is very important in deciding whether a lead is sale ready or not.
In truth, Marketing Automation tool, significantly shortens the time between lead generation and lead closure, not because it facilitates lead nurturing and lead nurturing programs (using email tools), but because it recognizes the buying process as a group activity and hence takes into account all activities by an enterprise at different times before qualifying them as a ‘sales ready lead’.
The Marketing Automation process in its entirety is an important milestone in the journey of lead generation. If this fact is recognized then it will reduce the gap between the marketing and sales teams.
The truth is lead generation does not end at sending and tracking email communication but involves the setting up of target accounts, target segments, intelligent title cloud, setting up of multi-channel marketing, ‘suspect’ identifying process, establishing marketing qualified leads, sales qualifying process, sales nurturing process and sales feedback loop and all of these activities are automated by marketing automation solutions, making it simpler for both marketing and sales.
Now, companies need to decide whether they choose to go in for the short sprint with Marketing Automation while generating sales ready leads or they prefer to run the marathon without Marketing Automation while paying a hefty price for the same.
If you have read the post this far, do not forget to watch the recording of our recent Webinar which discusses – How companies can align their sales and marketing and increase their profitability, presented by Charles Besondy and Richard Eppel. Here the presenters discuss in detail, how to measure the cost of misalignment incurred by your company and some easy to adopt methods to close this gap.