Marketing Is The New Sales


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I just read an interesting blog by Mark Emond in which he discusses how the marketing role, as well as the way B2B buyers buy, is evolving. He talked about how buyers now prefer to engage with a sales rep much later in the process than ever before. I totally agree and I have been telling my team for some time that the first, and often the second steps in the sales process take place well before the first conversation with a sales rep.

Today’s B2B buyers will research, and will likely engage with their social network prior to reaching out and engaging in a conversation with a sales rep. As a result, the sales rep needs to be prepared to engage in a discussion much farther down the sales path. The buyer will be much more educated upon first contact.

For those who can adjust, this is very good news. The fact that the prospect has already done their homework prior to engaging with the rep opens the opportunity for a shortened sales cycle. If not handled properly however, and the rep forces things into the old model where the process starts with educating the buyer, there is the potential to develop frustration and an appearance that the rep does not understand the buyer. This scenario will likely result in a very short sales cycle, ending after the first call with the prospecting “going dark”. Don’t let that happen, assume the buyer is educated. Ask how familiar they are with your offerings and if they have spoke with anyone who has used your solutions. At that point you can get on the same page and move forward from the appropriate point.

A second point that I found very interesting Mark references in the following paragraph. I could not agree more, my own Marketing department excluded of course:

“Aligning with the C-Suite agenda: In a 2011 study by the Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of CEOs said that their marketing organization fails to demonstrate how their strategies and campaigns generate more customer demand, more sales, more prospects, or more conversions. In a similar study, 77% of CEOs feel marketers talk about brand, brand values and brand equity but fail to link this back to results that top management cares about: revenue, sales, earnings, or market valuation. This is starting to change, however, as marketing is in the midst of a right-brain to left-brain transformation. Driven by this need for alignment, coupled with marketing automation and analytics technology, the focus has shifted to Sales Qualified Leads from CPMs. While still in the early stages of transformation, the result will be increased power at the C-Suite table for CMOs.”

The way I have been able to ensure my own marketing organization did not fall into the 73% mentioned above was to treat Marketing much more like sales. Given my background in sales, my approach as a CEO is biased, for better or worse. As you might imagine, when I first brought up the subject of structuring a comp plan for my VP of Marketing to include a significant percentage of comp “at risk” based on performance metrics, I was met with a bit of resistance.

Knowing this was a new concept, I suggested that he develop his own plan using guidelines to ensure key areas were being addressed. Giving him the ability to create his own plan accomplished a few important things. First, having to sit down and put a plan together ensured he took the time to think about every aspect of marketing and how it tied back to results. He also had to think about the various aspects of the plan and assign a value. This ensures focus on high value areas. Lastly is ownership: number of MQL’s , number of conversions, updated website content, improved website traffic and social media community development to name a few. The feedback he gave me once we implemented the new structure was all positive. He felt he accomplished more, had more time to focus on long term strategy, and of course got me off his back. We currently review monthly the progress toward goals and adjust as necessary.

I submit if marketing would like to prove ROI, and I know it does, step up with a sales like comp plan and remove any doubt as to the value being provided.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Paul Alves
Paul is Co-Founder of AGSalesworks and current CEO. Proven Sales Professional and Entrepreneur, working with both start-ups and Fortune 500 companies.


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