Sales representatives should work more closely with marketing teams to counter changing consumer purchase behavior brought about by the digital age, a Hubspot report has found.
More than half (57%) of all salespeople know that buyers are less dependent on a sales representative during the buying process than they were just a few years ago, according to HubSpot’s Q1 Sales Perception Survey 2016.
This is reinforced on the customer side, where less than a third of APAC consumers want to connect with a sales representative in the learn more stage of the purchase journey.
Today’s consumer is ready to connect with a salesperson after they have done research and have made a shortlist – 60% globally.
What does all this mean for sales teams?
The findings from the survey highlight a serious trust deficit between sales teams and consumers, says Ryan Bonnici, marketing director at HubSpot.
While 47% of consumers trust information from marketing, only 36% of them trust sales information.
As a result, sales teams should piggyback off the goodwill around marketing and start reframing content around what’s best for the customer – even if it’s not sales driven at first glance, says Bonnici.
Here are five ways sales and marketing can work together more closely for better results:
Content is a key driver to bridging the divide between the different decision-making stages of the buying process.
The first step is to align the product story across the two departments.
“Salespeople know their product in and out and have insights on past customer successes and ideal use cases which are all data points that today’s confident buyers rarely have access to,” says Bonnici.
By coupling this with marketing information, the two teams can produce content that works to address the specific concerns and needs of buyers to provide greater value and more strategic, personalized interactions.
Sales insights can be coupled with marketing data such as:
- what buyers are saying online
- which buyers are visiting your website
- which users are opening your emails
- which consumers are viewing your pricing page
A key finding from the report is that buyers consume nearly everything they can access during the awareness and purchase phase. This means sales should be tapping more into marketing assets like blog posts, research reports, ebooks, infographics and videos.
These resources should be informed by keyword research and search engine optimization so they pop up without interrupting the customer as they are looking for information on the product.
Tailored content such as case studies and webinars are particularly useful content for prospects reaching the purchase stage.
“Case studies, in particular, add a lot of credibility to your product marketing and prove the true value of your products/services,” says Bonnici.
He says tailored content helps reassure buyers that their specific concerns will be addressed if they choose to buy.
Therefore, the most important thing to keep in mind when creating content for any stage of the funnel, is to ensure it directly addresses the challenges of your customers and highlights how your product or offering is the best solution for their challenge, he says.
2. Include a video demonstration on the website
The report finds one third of buyers in APAC seek out product demontrations early on in the purchase journey. This is contrary to a prevalent belief that product demos are a final closing action, the report says.
Therefore having a clearly visible pre-recorded video demonstration on the vendor website is a good way to engage the consumer early on in the purchase journey.
Here’s an example from the website homepage for comScore. The video demonstration appears on the bottom left hand corner of the screen.
3. Make use of digital technologies
Sales teams can also take advantage of marketing automation software to find out more about their leads.
For example, a sales team can establish a consumer’s level of interest in a product by analyzing which pages they have viewed and how often they come back to the site. This knowledge can then be used to start a conversation with the prospective customer.
Some marketing automation tools can also notify a sales representative via email or text message when a prospect is on the website or opening an email, the report notes.
“It is critical to pick up the phone just after someone visited your website or when they are still on it. Delaying it erodes your chances of connecting with them,” says the report.
Site visitor and email tracking data can also have a bearing on how a salesperson should prioritize lead outreach after a customer’s first visit. Create a view in the CRM to break down recent visitors and prioritize who visits the site frequently and reach out to them first.
5. Create an email signature
Finally, create a professional email signature that drives prospects and customers to an upcoming webinar, face-to-face event, or free online resource, Bonnici advises.
This is a simple and easy exercise to implement across both teams.
Here is an example of the email signature for our ClickZ Asia team linking recipients to our next digital conference in Hong Kong in August.
Here’s an email signature from Shanghai-based digital marketing agency, China Skinny.
And this one from retail technology agency, Red Ant.
On an up-note, the majority of APAC-based business buyers want to meet with sales during the consideration phase. That is, after they’ve done some research and know they need more information to make a sound decision.
“After finding out what the buyer knows, a well-prepared sales representative can elaborate on their product and share advice they are best equipped to provide,” says the report.
“This advice should be new to the buyer and educate them further on the product or service.”
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