Top 6 Ways that Marketing Supports B2B Sales and Revenue
Since the early days of B2B marketing and sales, marketing VPs have been asking that puzzling but oh-so-important question: “What in the heck does sales want from us anyway?” And the problem is, the sales department sometimes doesn’t know what it wants — or it changes what it asks for on some seemingly random basis. One day it’s, “We need a lot more leads.” Another day it’s, “We need more qualified leads,” or “We need more marketplace awareness.” Some days, they want all three. And there are myriad other requests like sales collateral, website changes, event support, press releases, and targeted campaigns. The list can be endless.
As a former CMO for several impressive software companies and a current service provider to fast-growth B2B companies, I’ve had occasion to talk to some experienced and super smart sales VPs. And regardless of how they describe the specifics, what they nearly always want is for their marketing department (or outside providers) to make their tough job of hitting the quarterly revenue target more effective and predictable. And if you can do this, despite the daily challenges of bridging the gaps between B2B sales and marketing, you will gain the respect from your sales counterparts. Four of our great clients came as a result of recommendations from sales executives I worked with in the past. These types of relationships are golden, and they are not usually based on how much you like each other, but rather, how you form a partnership to drive revenue.
One important caveat: Sometimes, what the sales VP asks you to do is not necessarily in his or her best interest, or that of the company. As a critical part of the value chain, the marketing chief must have an equal voice in defining the lead-to-revenue (L2R) process. This may cause a bit of friction in the design phase, but when the L2R machine is running smoothly, everyone will benefit. For more about the Lead-to-Revenue Machine, download our free eBook on the subject.
Here are six ways you and your marketing team can add the most value to the sales department and its revenue mission.
- Generate leads. This almost goes without saying, but a steady lead flow can hide other sins, and a lack of leads can make you look bad despite all the other great stuff you are doing. If you support your half of the lead-to-revenue machine, you will receive plenty of respect and job security.
- Be a branding ninja. Positioning a product, service or the company itself correctly is an essential part of driving revenue. Good branding helps the prospect quickly understand who you are, what you are offering and what benefits accrue from doing business with you.
- Build awareness. Awareness provides vital air cover for the sales force. In B2B, just like B2C, people tend to buy from companies they know and trust. Assuming the awareness is positive, you can never do too much to get the word out to your target audience, as well as marketplace influencers like analysts, media, association leaders, etc.
- Create great content. There is no such thing as too much content, assuming the content is relevant to the various buyer/influencer personas and tailored to different stages in the buying cycle. Sales reps love it when they have a handy piece of collateral to support a particular benefit or overcome a prospect objection.
- Optimize your website. A great website is a sales accelerator. The ideal scenario occurs when prospects visit your site, educate and self-qualify themselves, and then engage with your sales team – reducing the sales cycle and improving close rates.
- Demand reciprocity. Effective lead-to-revenue machines result from a tight partnership between marketing and sales functions, aligning processes, people and technology. Both departments have to execute their specific roles efficiently – based on the target metrics agreed to in the planning stages. Note that the marketing department must not be a junior partner in this process – both parties are equally accountable.
The essential thing to remember is that whatever you are perceived to be doing that helps generate revenue will be labeled an investment, and whatever you do that does not contribute to revenue will be labeled an expense. And when it comes to budget, recognition and job security, it is always better to be thought of as an investment. Plan your deliverables accordingly.
Hope this helps you in your quest to be a great partner (and revenue support) to the sales department.