If you hadn’t noticed, it’s a challenging new sales landscape out there, and many companies still operating with traditional barriers between sales and marketing are seeing their efforts grind to a halt. Today’s customers are more empowered with information and options than ever before, and they’re coming to expect a seamless buying process that’s fueled by sales and marketing alignment.
If, on the other hand, your sales and marketing departments can’t find ways to muster a bipartisan effort, chances are your prospects are going to take their business elsewhere.
With so much change abound, companies simply can’t afford to remain idle as the bar is raised for sales. In the video series below, Mark Roberge, SVP of Sales and Services at inbound marketing pioneer HubSpot, offers six tips for companies that are updating their outdated sales strategies and adapting to Sales 2.0.
1) What Does Sales 2.0 Really Mean?
Customers are more proactive than ever when it comes to the sales process. Within the Sales 2.0 paradigm, the customer dictates the conversation. They’re no longer waiting to be swooned by the perfect salesperson or pitch. They’re researching companies, seeing how their products compare to the competition and trying to identify the competitive advantages of doing business together.
“Sales 2.0 really represents a shift of control from the salesperson to the buyer, largely due to the advent of the Internet,” says Roberge. “So, if you think about it, 10 years ago, you’re interested in a particular product – where do you go to learn about it? … Sales 2.0 is causing salespeople to step up their games and really be more consultative in their process.”
As Roberge explains, this change is compelling salespeople and marketers to add more to the conversation. If they’re not contributing to the customer’s buying experience directly — in measurable ways — then they’re subscribing to a dated sales strategy.
2) How Content and Social Media Has Changed Sales
Ask any informed inbound marketer they’ll tell you: Content and social media have a huge impact on a company’s sales process. According to Roberge, a high-performing Sales 2.0 strategy can’t afford to overlook the value-add capabilities of content and social media. Social media and content aren’t about pushing a pitch out to customers, says Roberge. The goal should be to engage customers in conversation and genuinely contribute to the ensuing discussion.
After years of beating customers over the head with pitches, today’s environment requires a more tactful approach. Understanding your audience is only part of the equation. You must also make sure that your audience is listening by saying something worthwhile.
3) How Do Roles Change in Sales 2.0?
The Sales 2.0 landscape has certainly altered some of the traditional roles within sales and marketing.
As Roberge explains in this short video, the sales process itself has been expedited. With customers having access to a plethora of information on companies and their products, by the time they make contact, much of the foundational steps of the sales process have been laid. Roberge also recognizes a major change in the marketing-sales relationship: Salespeople must be much more informed on what marketing is doing.
“In this Sales 2.0 world, the salesperson’s job has changed somewhat as well,” he says. “They have to be much more up-to-speed with exactly what’s going on within marketing because by the time they talk to a lead, that lead is usually two-thirds through their sales process.”
In their correspondences, salespeople must know how the company’s marketing team interacted with the prospect and what points stuck — and then they have to adjust accordingly. No longer is there a one-size-fits-all approach, he concludes.
4) Which Metrics Demonstrate Sales & Marketing Alignment?
Nothing can stall a company’s operations quicker than a substantial gap between sales and marketing. Roberge has dedicated a considerable amount of time to figuring out how to make the two departments more interconnected through inbound marketing. Adjusting alignment within a company can be a challenge without the correct metrics to help you assess your progress, however.
In this short video, Roberge details a few of the analytical measurements HubSpot uses to facilitate the process. One common theme throughout HubSpot’s practices is that both departments are held accountable for holding up their end of the proverbial bargain. Marketing, for example, is responsible for high-quality leads. On the other end, sales should be held to high conversion standards, says Roberge.
5) Inbound Marketing Challenges
Marketers no longer solely rely on budgets to deliver quantifiable results. Today, grassroots campaigns centered around high-quality content are just as important (and widespread) as the use of advertising once was. According to Roberge, intelligence and aptitude for content marketing are now in-demand skills for marketers — and this is changing the game. And everyone looking to utilize inbound marketing needs to be cognizant of these industry-wide trends.
“10 years ago – and even to this day – marketers [worlds’] were about begging their CEO for the most money as possible, and spending it on the right vendors and measuring those vendors’ success,” says Roberge. “Today, it’s about using your brainpower and skillset as opposed to your money to succeed.”
As a result, sales is also headed in a different direction, says Roberge.
6) Where Inbound Marketing Is Headed
In many ways, today’s inbound marketing conversation is dominated by talk of social media and content.
But looking ahead a few years, Roberge believes that a need for personalization will take hold of the inbound marketing industry, driven in large part by consumer behavior and needs. Consumer-focused companies like Amazon have understood the need for personalized marketing for some time — unlike the B2B industry, which has usually lagged a bit behind, he says.
Roberge says that, over time, more clarity will be gained on the need for personalization, the specifics involved and the outcomes that can be achieved. As a result, more B2Bs could begin focusing on a 1-to-1 approach within their inbound marketing efforts.