Josh Teigen is the founder and CEO of Crossfox Innovation, a business development company focused on bringing innovative ideas and systems to corporations looking to expand and grow their existing operations.
The consumer and corporate purchase landscape is in the midst of the largest overhaul in recorded history: the digital age has brought about many changes, but one of the most dynamic shifts is how we approach the conventional sale of goods and services. Truthfully, the roles of salespeople used to be much more clearly defined, but today, those lines have blurred significantly as the "traditional salesperson" takes on much more of a marketing and administrative approach than ever before.
As business owners, we can all think of the rockstar salesmen who have worked for us -- or at least one salesman that we wish did. We hire them because of their innate ability to open doors and close deals, yet, today's salespeople are actually spending less than half of their time actually selling.
The cause of this shift lies in how the digital age has re-sculpted the customer journey: while there once used to be a clean break when marketing handed off and sales took over, those days as we know it are gone. And sure, while marketing automation and CRM software are powerful tools, they haven't yet evolved to address the gap in traditional marketing and sales systems in a way that helps salespeople become better marketers.
Here are are some of the most common pain points I've seen sales professionals experience when attempting to integrate marketing efforts into the sales cycle, and a few ideas to better remedy these situations in a swift manner.
1. Marketing and admin tasks are taking a big chunk of your sales team's time.
Salespeople are in place to sell, but the digital age has tossed them the added responsibilities of marketing and administrative tasks, which can be a huge drag on their time. This creates very inefficient practices within an organization and results in sales, marketing and management all becoming frustrated. In order to change this, we must continue to evolve and innovate alongside the customer.
The reality is, marketing works. Sales works. But now more than ever before, they must work together in perfect harmony and direction in order to be most effective in today's marketplace. When you are able to combine these into one unified effort with perfect feedback and communication, you unlock a powerful approach that is tailored to modern needs of the 21st century.
Of course we all feel like we have the best marketing and salespeople, and have armed them with the most sophisticated and advanced tools available. The fact of the matter is, however, that sales, marketing and their respective tools still fall under separate silos. My search for a tool that tied these teams and their tools together is partially what inspired the writing of this article.
2. Marketing doesn't have time to support sales with each 1:1 interaction.
There needs to be a better way to "commoditize" 1:1 engagement so it has a personalized look and feel without the time and costs associated.
In a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, they found that by the time a customer engages you, they have already completed nearly 60 percent of the purchasing decision. The line that once diveded sales and marketing is blurred.
Businesses these days are receiving orders for tens of thousands of dollars for their products and services from what seems to be completely out of the blue. Orders like this were nonexistent a decade ago, yet now we barely think twice when we gain a new customer that we had no direct contact with.
3. Marketing and sales lack insight on the effectiveness of their collateral.
The shift we are seeing unearths a deeper issue of it being much more important to understand how people and businesses buy, rather than why they buy. Many prominent companies have exploited this change without it being obvious to the consumer. Amazon, for instance, cares much less about why you buy a certain type of grocery, but is shifting their operations to innovate how people buy things. From online ordering to drone delivery, we are seeing the consumer as a different animal than once before. This is clearly a simple example, but the same principles apply to how businesses make purchases.
An integrated marketing tool (we use Sky Blue Technology) is crucial for success moving forward. Platforms that allow salespeople to see when prospects have viewed the custom branded experiences and for how long gives them with the ability to follow up with a targeted message and nurture prospects in a unique way. Additionally, the days of finding a time to set up an online webinar or software demo are over, since integrated platforms like these allow people to demo your software on their own time within a virtual machine. In turn, the marketing team is happy because all of their materials are being used effectively, and the sales team is happy because they no longer have to search for the latest videos or collateral to send out to prospects.
As CEOs and managers, it is difficult to look objectively at the effectiveness of our teams in which we have invested so many resources. The truth is, salespeople are spending way too much of their time on activities outside of selling, marketers are frustrated that the content they create is not being used or not being used effectively, and the feedback loop that allows both teams to be more effective is broken.
In order to stay innovative, we must honestly look at how well our sales and marketing teams are working together. Instead of arming them with tools to work independently of each other, we need to provide tools that link the platforms together and allow both teams to focus on what they are great at, while providing feedback around how they can collectively improve.