Digital TransformationStrategy & LeadershipWhat’s the next chapter of the marketing story within sales relationships?

What's the next chapter of the marketing story within sales relationships?

How sales and marketing leaders can achieve better integration and drive person-to-person interactions through strategy, process, and martech

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball to see what the remainder of 2022 has in store for us? As we have reached halfway through this year it is important for business leaders to consider what the next chapter of the sales and marketing story will look like.

The relationship is often unclear and can lead to a strain to the extent where the sales and marketing departments just don’t click. Sometimes, their relationship can be downright hostile and it’s important that the teams work together as they share a lot in common including the roles they play within customer engagement, revenue growth and overall organizational growth. Having a strong relationship within both departments will enable effective collaboration and often can be known to accelerate growth rates, help close deals and more. Although predicting the future can feel ominous, but it is a necessary part of preparing for unlocking potential business growth and success.

By 2025 Gartner expects 80 percent of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers to occur within digital channels. This makes sense given that B2B buying behaviors have been shifting toward a buyer-centric digital model, a change that has been accelerated over the past few years and one which will certainly continue to evolve as a focus for both sales and marketing leadership.

A recent survey from Marketing Profs found nearly half of B2B marketers said their sales team doesn’t understand what’s important to the marketing team, and 31 percent of B2B salespeople said their marketing team doesn’t understand what’s important to the sales team. Although sales and marketing serve different functions, it’s when they work together that companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: sales cycles are shorter, market entry costs decrease, and the cost of sales is lower.

We all know the push and pull of sales and marketing can be very blurred, sometimes causing tension and stress – my advice is to focus on how these two functions can work better together and measure success moving forward. This starts with ensuring we have the right tools in place to help improve the future relationship of sales and marketing.

Work is changing

It’s no surprise that the way we work is changing. According to Drift’s 2021 State of Conversational Sales, 65  of sellers say their sales productivity increased, which makes sense — there’s less travel and in-office distractions, so there’s more time to focus. It’s not like someone’s going to pop by your office and ask you to grab a coffee. For marketers, it’s been more of a mix. About half said remote work has made them more flexible, but with that, 41 percent had to onboard new tools and 39 percent had to onboard new talent.

How can sales and marketing leaders best manage this changing landscape and better embrace the hybrid working model? It requires flexibility— adopting the right technology that supports collaboration, creating a hiring strategy that fits the new way of work, and creating achievable, realistic goals for employees to set them up for success. It requires open and consistent communication. The more communication you can facilitate between your sales and marketing leadership the better. For example, transparent emails and weekly touchpoints have been highly effective for my teams.

Lean into the ever-changing martech landscape

Marketing and sales teams tend to be the biggest users of technology. After all they’re responsible for managing customer relationships and reporting how the activities support overall business goals. We’ve come a long way with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as two of the biggest trends within 2022. But as every leader knows, there’s still not one reigning platform for sales or marketing.

With that in mind, sales and marketing leaders are looking for simple integration tools that provide the right dashboards and drive better person-to-person interactions. Like many of us I’m constantly bombarded by sales emails offering me better solutions, LinkedIn messages telling me about process improvement and more tools. As a CMO it’s important to step back and ensure my team is properly leveraging the martech tools we already have before adding more.

There is a heavy focus on the evolving martech landscape, especially when you think about process design, and how to think about approaching it. I was at an event recently where someone asked me how I know if our campaigns are working. I mentioned that I always look at the overall marketing and sales plan with a bird’s eye view of all the systems and a flow chart covering the entire landscape. I often ask my team to outline the marketing tools we have at our disposal and focus on how they all work together to ensure we are leveraging our marketing technology solutions to the fullest. Initially my team struggled to explain how everything worked together, and it was clear there was an opportunity to use and improve our martech landscape to improve the impact we were making.

Focus campaign planning and ROI and metrics

Tracking metrics has become an essential part of marketing and sales for all businesses. According to a Nielsen report, the average return on investment is just under $0.70 for every $1 dollar spent on marketing channels. This represents a marketing budget that delivers less profit than it costs to run. To alleviate this, increasing ROI is necessary. As you begin to plan your campaigns and supportive investments, it’s important to outline success metrics for both sales and marketing and ensure that you have point people, a realistic timeline, and a sense of what the desired outcome looks like for all parties.

Throughout my career I’ve found that identifying the most important metrics to sales and marketing success can help build more efficient and effective campaigns. I’ve found campaign reporting and executive dashboard have helped uncover new media opportunities, pricing options, messaging approaches or other angles which are worth considering.

The future must prioritize quality

Although marketing focuses more on building competitive advantage for the future and sales focuses more on customer relationship-building, there’s certainly overlap. When brands evolve according to what customers want and need, it’s a win-win for both teams.

So, what’s next for sales and marketing? In my mind, the theme of the next chapter is quality. While we are busier than ever before, are we as productive as we can be? And are we producing the highest quality work possible? When sales and marketing align their efforts and focus on reaching key goals like improved customer service and engagement, your company will be in a much better position to reap the benefits of marketing and sales success.

Katrina Klier is an accomplished Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Digital Officer, board director, and industry speaker. She is the Chief Marketing Officer at PROS. Katrina is also a founding member of Chief and an advocate for women in technology. Prior to joining PROS, Katrina led the digital transformation of Accenture’s go-to-market and brand functions, nearly doubling brand value and increasing revenue over 50%. Katrina also built and led the global digital, channel marketing, and ecommerce organizations for Microsoft’s OEM business. Katrina serves on the board of the Croton Harmon Education Foundation and several industry organizations.

You can find Katrina on Twitter @KatrinaKlier.

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