In a world that has struggled to make sense of the COVID-19 pandemic, you, too, are likely working to better understand the roles that your team members will play in the recovery.
As you will recall from our last blog, we noted that such cross-departmental realignment is nothing new. For years, industries that faced digital disruption were forced to optimize their revenue-producing expenses in order to survive. The same can be said for all industries in the face of the current global pandemic.
This unique challenge is coming on the heels of a B2B buying process shift already underway. In a study by the Harvard Business Review on the B2B buying journey, it was noted that 65 percent of customers already know exactly what they want before they have their first conversation with your sales professionals. And in the Forbes “Build A Compelling B2B Customer Journey” report, it was found that, on average, B2B buyers are 57 percent of the way through the buying funnel by the time they call.
What does this mean to your business? Quite simply, the buyer is in control, and your marketing department—often historically relegated to the tactical execution of “softer” tasks—will need to take a stronger role in direct revenue production, and in more actively guiding high-value buyers to the point that they are ready for sales conversations.
For the better part of this century, companies selling products and services to other businesses (B2B) often relied heavily on their sales forces as front-line foot soldiers to bring in revenue. In this rear view, marketing played a supporting role — creating brochures, managing events, sending emails, and managing the company website. The message: Sales is king, and marketing is staff. This model worked for decades with many companies, although recent data suggested it was already time for change.
Compounded by the impact of COVID-19, it’s abundantly clear that a new approach is needed right now. In the non-contact, remote-by-default marketplace, your sales teams are going to struggle for face time, and that face time will be different and less personal, even with current video technology. Too, many buyers simply will not be ready to purchase right now.
That’s why there’s no better time than now for you, as CEO, to revisit the “truths” that underpin your company’s revenue sources and explore options that can offer revenue growth while minimizing costs. It will require you to look at sales and marketing together as a single, breathing organism, and to rethink how work is done and where accountability lies. You need to find a way to point your generously compensated sales resources toward optimal revenue prospects, while leveraging efficient marketing channels to help you close business with lower value clients and prospects, conquer new markets, or unclog valuable prospects stuck in your funnel.
Ask yourself these questions to determine if you should make some changes in your sales/marketing roles and responsibilities:
Can marketing solve all your needs? No — but neither can finance, HR, sales, product, or any other department, in isolation. However, if you are not leveraging your marketing function in both strategic decision-making and tactical sales execution, odds are the value this function is contributing isn’t optimized. And, if that is the case, you likely have an opportunity to increase the ROI from your combined sales and marketing investment.
In our next blog, we’ll take a deeper look at a smart approach to cost control.