A great marketing strategy should always include research and reporting components to help sales find “gold” in potential and existing customer data to gain new revenue.
Sales teams are always looking to their marketing counterparts to help get new leads to turn them into successful opportunities. It's simply not enough to just provide names and contact information of someone who dropped their business card into a bowl at an exhibit booth. They need much more.
In order to drive revenue growth, successful marketing strategies must also focus on providing contacts at viable prospect companies with key details, such as: identified industry, location, company size/revenue, department, title, job, current technology utilized for the business need (if available), and specific future growth plans (if available). Those data points are essential prior to formulating your plan.
The best results happen when everyone remembers that marketing and sales are a team with both functions supporting the other. For instance, marketing can fuel revenue growth by providing sales with research data about the prospects at the heart of specific interactions, which can include behavioral data, such as response rates, which can confirm business needs and the relative interest level in a given topic. Both teams will flourish if marketing strives to assist and encourage sales to uncover more knowledge of their prospects and customers through social selling resources and channels and by collaborating throughout the process.
Not only do you want to reach your target audience and provide a solution to assist them with their business needs, but you also have to provide them with a positive customer experience and make their journey to a purchase decision seamless and satisfying.
In addition to working to solve their business issues, remember that each executive is also concerned with their personal challenges within their company. Therefore, if you can help them solve the business need at hand and show increased ROI, that in turn will help solidify their value in their existing role and aid them in reaching their personal goals. Both the marketing strategy and sales strategy should go hand in hand to deliver results that ensure the customer journey is a beneficial one.
Many years ago, when I was wearing two hats - both sales and marketing - I was having a difficult time securing a meeting with a top executive at an automotive company I was trying to work with. I found out that he was going to be at an industry conference that I was also planning on attending. A few weeks before the conference, I decided to put my marketing strategy, as well as my sales strategy, to work for me, and I read as much as I could find on his company, department, and background. Because he was a high-level executive, I was able to find a press release that announced his appointment to his then-current position and learn more about him via LinkedIn. That led to a detailed summary of his background and information on his current role and the work he had done prior to his current position.
With that information in hand, I researched his previous company in order to learn more about his focus as well as the challenges and successes he experienced. Luckily he had written several articles and had done many interviews. After finding out as much about this executive and his organization as I could, I felt confident that my company could help him achieve his departmental goals. So I set out to introduce myself to him at the conference. Prior to the event, I put together an information packet on his focus areas, and then I included a list of customer references, along with a hand written note on company stationary along with my business card.
As it turned out, the first night of the conference was a networking cocktail party. Even though we had never met or spoken, I knew what the executive looked like from his photo online and felt like I had a good handle on his interests. I was able to spot him in the crowded room, approached him and introduced myself. We spoke about the company he was at previously, his new role and responsibilities, and how partnering with my company could help him meet his goals and address some of the data challenges he was trying to streamline. He was surprised and pleased that I knew so much about what he had been dealing with in the past, the challenges he was currently facing and that he could actually talk with someone that had an idea of what his department was going through. I handed him the packet of information which I had assembled and he promised to get back to me. My sales and marketing strategy had worked!
That initial conversation kicked off a series of meetings that led to a strategic value assessment, and ultimately to a closed deal that provided tremendous value to the customer. And what may have been seen simply as a successful sale, was really an effective pairing of marketing strategy with sales skill.
I offer that example to underscore how a customer can benefit from an orchestrated process that's firmly grounded in marketing strategy. The primary benefit is for sales to gain critical insights in order to engage the customer on the basis of their business needs, and not being so focused on having a product to sell.
Scale that example up to a large sales force with an addressable market of millions, and it quickly becomes clear how an analytically-driven marketing solution, such as SAS Customer Intelligence, can help drive revenue growth for all sizes of businesses.
Although my example incorporates both sales and marketing strategies, both are equally important to an organization's success. I have been fortunate enough to manage multiple, industry-wide marketing programs, and I've found the following combination of factors in a marketing strategy can have the biggest impact on sales:
- Do the research needed up front,
- Know and target the right audience,
- Create the right messaging,
- Develop relevant assets and content,
- Utilize the best available channels, and
- Share your marketing metrics and results.
A well-thought out, all-inclusive marketing strategy, implemented properly, will give sales the advantage they need to help secure a conversation with a prospect or current customer and can be the catalyst to a successful engagement and with it, increased revenue. In the end, everyone wins!