A Guest Post by CEO and Author Glenn Gow
Marketing has been under-appreciated for years, but times are changing. In today’s business climate, marketing holds the keys to success or failure for sales.
The fact is, buyers no longer rely on sales reps as the keepers of information. Instead, buyers do their own research and draw their own conclusions.
Over the past few years, buyers have become increasingly well informed. They rely much more on the wealth of information available to them on the Internet and through their colleagues and other users. As a result, they don’t rely on sales reps as heavily.
According to the Sales 2.0 Conference, “70 percent of a customer’s buying decision is now made based on information he or she finds online, well before a salesperson has a chance to get involved.”
Because of this, many companies are discovering their sales forces are less effective than in the past. Sales reps find their influence with buyers diminishing. They find it more difficult to guide buyers and help them make decisions. Buyers don’t feel like they need a sales rep’s advice. They often don’t trust sales reps to have their best interests at heart, and they don’t like feeling like they’re being sold to.
These factors make it harder than ever for sales reps to win business for the company, and the trend is unlikely to reverse itself. If anything, people are likely to rely more and more on the Internet and social media to help them make decisions. It’s easy to see why: buyers view those sources as helpful and unbiased.
But better-informed buyers don’t have to weaken sales reps’ impact or influence. According to the CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Study, effective use of sales intelligence increases revenue productivity per sales rep by 17 percent.
That’s where marketing can bridge the gap for sales.
How Marketing Can Make the Difference
Sales reps need to gain a deep understanding of buyers—what they know, what they care about, how they perceive your company and your products, and what they need.
Sales people once had more information than buyers had, but today, that equation is often reversed. Sales reps need to have all of the information that buyers have, and then some.
Buyers do their own research and come to the table knowing a lot about your company, its offerings, and all the alternatives to your solution.
To be effective, sales reps need to know the same information. They also need to know how buyers react to the information they find. By understanding what buyers think and feel about the company’s products and services, sales reps can empathize with buyers. That enables sales reps to meet buyers where they are and help solve their problems.
This places the sales rep in the role of the buyer’s valued advisor. Not only is that a powerful position, it’s a role that earns the buyer’s trust. It’s also the role that’s most helpful to the buyer.
Why Sales Needs Marketing to Help
Sales can’t do this on their own because marketing has the Big Data. Marketing collects tons of information about buyers—who they are, what they know, how they behave, and how they perceive your brand and offerings.
Marketing understands buyers and what makes them tick. They’ve been studying it for years. But unless they share it with sales, the sales reps are stuck doing things the old way and watching their influence diminish.
Marketing’s Two Power Tools to Supercharge Sales
Marketing holds two keys to success: Big Data and Social Media.
By collecting the information most valuable to sales, and by getting that information to them regularly, marketing can make the difference that creates more sales and builds more valuable relationships with buyers. That’s the power of Big Data.
The other piece of the puzzle is social selling. There are many wrong ways to do social media, and it’s easy to waste time there. Nobody is talking to the V.P. of Sales about how to do it right. That’s where marketing can use their expertise and experience to make a big impact.
By helping sales reps present themselves in the right light, guiding them in establishing relationships and authority, and feeding them the information they need to contribute to the conversation, marketing can set sales reps up for success.
This is a chance for marketing to make a direct impact on revenue. It may well mean the difference between success and failure for the CMO.
Not sure how to get started? Check out Glenn’s new book, Revenue and the CMO.
Glenn Gow is founder and CEO of Crimson Marketing. He’s an expert in marketing strategy for tech companies, especially in digital marketing, demand generation, and social (selling and marketing). Gow oversees the work of Crimson’s teams and is focused on achieving Extreme Client Satisfaction for the company’s clients. Gow is interviewed regularly by the business press, and has spoken at Harvard Business School, the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, among others. Formerly in sales and marketing management roles at Oracle and Verizon, Gow traces his career in technology back to when he worked as a computer programmer for Procter & Gamble. He has a BS in Quantitative Management from the University of Florida and an MBA from Harvard Business School.