In two previous posts, we’ve identified that:
- Sales and marketing come from different “cultural” perspectives.
- Sales is results-oriented, marketing is human-interest driven.
- In B2B, the needs of sales—i.e., getting good sales leads—overrides marketing’s impetus for branding and market research.
The question I asked at the end of Part 2 was, “How can you align a marketing team to produce sales leads without hurting, or challenging marketers’ deeply held beliefs about the need to create an emotional connection between a buyer and a product, a person and a brand?”
While I don’t know all the answers, I can offer the following advice, based on our own experiences here at XANT:
1. Make an explicit, hierarchical list of priorities that align your marketing production to your sales.
One of the first things I did when I sat down with our marketing team earlier this year was draw up a “focus list” for each of our daily activities. Any time we sign off on an activity, the global priority is established with it. Our list is provided below, yours may differ:
- Remove barriers that cause drops in incoming leads (i.e., refining split test Web content that doesn’t appear to be working, Google Ad words / keywords / ads that aren’t working, bad PR. Obviously the worst type of “Bad PR” is poor service and product, but the marketing team rarely has control over those issues).
- Increase existing media conversions.
- “Widen the funnel” on existing media.
- Find new media to generate leads.
- Increase Credibility.
- Sales Story
- Corporate Communications
Notice that “branding” and “research”—two of the items vigorously attacked by BNet’s Geoffrey James as being superfluous for most B2B marketing organizations—are the last two items on the list.
2. Acknowledge marketer’s need for recognition.
Though company goals are always the same, marketers often want to be “rewarded” in different ways. Most sales reps don’t care about being “recognized” by the company for their efforts; their own internal satisfaction (and big pay checks) are enough. Marketers, while they appreciate a nice bonus as much as the next guy / gal, typically crave praise. They want recognition for the ideas they produce, as it resonates with their internal dialogue of creativity.
3. Don’t ignore branding activities altogether, just prioritize them against the need for direct sales results.
Studies have shown that a consistent “branding” message does lead to gains in sales over the long run, so it’s important to have a “look and feel” that’s appropriate to company need and industry. But the fact of the matter is that there are very, very few B2B “love brands” (i.e., brands that cause users to “self-identify” with the product), and trying to “manufacture” one is most often futile. A consistent message of value, productivity, and credibility wins the day in B2B marketing.
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