This week we had an extremely rich conversation with Mike Drapeau! He’s a founding partner of SBI, so he’s right at home consulting companies on how to meet their growth goals.
He was also right at home diving into one of the top dilemmas facing manufacturers today: how to unite sales and marketing.
1. REDEFINE ONE ROLE FOR EACH DEPARTMENT
A simple obstacle blocking the way between sales and marketing departments is a lack of understanding and empathy. A bit of basic communication can start breaking down that barrier.
Marketers aren’t as familiar with the pressure sales has to hit quotas.
Assign your marketers a numerical goal (net new leads, ROI, etc.) to aim for.
Sales leaders aren’t always involved in marketing campaigns.
Give account managers specific collateral, resources, and roles to play in campaigns.
Unite sales and marketing teams by training them to meet together to build out personas based on to your top target accounts. Your marketers know how to use personas to influence their materials – but your account managers actually know who these people are.
Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. The more they understand one another, the better they’ll be at their own jobs.
2. USE SMALL BETA GROUPS TO PROVE OUT CHANGES GRADUALLY
The hard truth is that many older sales reps with decades of experience are set in their ways and don’t want to change.
Younger reps may be blank slates open to change and to new techniques, but they’re also less familiar with the environment of their new role.
Implement gradual digital changes within a small group of young, hungry account executives. Once they start showing progress and results (remember, that’s not necessarily ROI), they’ll win over more skeptics.
If you’re not interested in changing your sales or marketing habits, you’re losing by default.
The gradual, systemic change is key here. Many manufacturers jump whole hog into mainstream digital solutions which aren’t actually a proper fit. Legacy CRM software, for example, is extremely powerful…but it fails at recognizing that the same lead might be making touches in three different ways from three different devices under five different aliases.
Account executives and marketers both know about different factors that will influence your CRM, so you need to unite sales and marketing to get the full picture.
3. CLOSE THE GAP BETWEEN OLD AND NEW REPS
Your younger reps need to shadow mentors who can show them the ropes.
Your older reps need young, adaptable peers to show them new time-saving and energy-saving tools to enhance their existing process.
B2B buyers are getting younger by the year– over 50% of them are millennials now.
You need to find a balance between the expertise of your veteran account executives, and the consideration of your rookie reps.
Don’t necessarily try to gauge a new rep’s success solely by ROI, because revenue may not start pouring in right away. They’re still a new rep, after all.
However, their relationships and their efficiency and their time management may drastically improve. For example, how many LinkedIn connections are they making with potential leads? That shows you how much buyer-access and how many relationships they’re fostering.
4. FORM CONNECTIONS WITH YOUR END USERS
Relationships with the end-user represent one big change that industrial B2B companies have been hesitant to adopt.
Communicating occasionally with your end-users is not cheating on your distributors.
It may feel like ‘breaking protocol,’ but, understanding the end-user’s needs can help you to better support your distributors and provide them with the collateral they need to make the sale. The more you unite sales and marketing around those goals, the smoother your buying cycle can become.
End users are, to be frank, pretty lazy. (Aren’t we all?) They want to get the best value for the least effort. Their currency, often, is not money– but time.
For example, end-users don’t want to receive a quote that looks like a ten-page tax document. What if your distributors have been spending hours turning your archaic quotes and billing statements into more amenable reading? How would they and their customers feel if you made simply made your quotes less cluttered?
It’s such a small step, but it could have a big impact– all because you were in tune not only with your distributors, but also your end users.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
People can sit around resenting one another from a distance all day long. But if you actually tug them together and ask them to consider one another’s needs, magical things cans start to happen.
If you want to unite sales and marketing within your organization, make it habit for your account executives and your marketers to always ask (each other and their buyers): “How can I make your life easier?”
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