Sales and marketing are converging in many businesses. But why and how?

Econsultancy's latest Digital Transformation Best Practice Guide answers exactly those questions.

Here are some of the key insights.

Why merge Sales and Marketing?

1 Effectiveness of marketing and sales is under scrutiny

The combined cost of sales and marketing is estimated to be between 15-35% of an organisation's total costs.

With any activity costing so much, its effectiveness must be under scrutiny.

This is especially true in the UK at the moment, where, as Mark Patron points out, every CFO will be looking to trim the fat from their organisations in the wake of a referendum-induced economic downturn.

2. The consumer expects one joined up sales journey

The customer has never seen their own path to purchase as a funnel, nor do they want to be clunkily handed from one department to another.

Improving the customer path to purchase is common to every model of digital transformation, whether it be customer focused, technology focused or organisation focused.

The fact that so much of the research phase for customers now occurs online means the remit of marketing draws ever closer to the moment a customer decides to buy.

3. Qualifying leads is not as simple as BANT any more

Just as marketing is more involved in the sale, salespeople are having to reach up the funnel to understand their prospects.

Hubspot defines this by breaking down the N of the BANT lead-scoring acronym (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline). 'Need' is further broken down into 'goals, plans, challenges and timeline'.

Essentially, the customer need becomes a lot more nuanced, with salespeople tailoring the product/service/pitch to fit.

This nuance is gauged from a wide range of interactions, often online, between the customer and the organisation's people and resources.

McKinsey neatly sums this up with the chart below, showing how the organisation interacts with the customer in different stages of their journey.

Impact of different touchpoints over the customer’s path to purchase journey (Adapted from McKinsey 2009)

marketing/sales touchpoints

4. Qualified leads need integrated technology

With salespeople qualifying leads in a much more engaged way, they need access to more customer data - most of it collected by marketing in the awareness and consideration phases.

Access to data dictates a single view of the customer that marketing and sales teams can share. Typically, this means a single CRM, but impacts on many data-gathering technologies.  

5. Marketing at scale (automation) requires further integration

As data and processes are aligned, marketers can look to nudge customers along the funnel at scale, by automating some communications.

To achieve the benefits of automation, organisations must see the logic of bringing sales and marketing closer together.

How to merge Sales and Marketing?

So how do organisations unite sales and marketing?

Mike Baxter, author of the best practice guide on this topic, says it's all about serving the customer with the right message at the right time.

This requires data capture, the right content, and an understanding of customer intentions. Mike splits the process into strategy development and strategy deployment.

Strategy development

Process design

Diagnosis of current processes of sales and marketing. This involves analysis of possible customer paths to purchase and comparing them to the ideal.

Looking at your service proposition, as well as the identification of and communication with prospects, process design entails examination of data and tech.

It may be that opportunities for personalisation are earmarked, or a lack of a joined-up CRM is identified.

This is extensive work and often involves a full capability audit (for more on this, see Econsultancy's Digital Transformation hub).

Competitor analysis

Looking for opportunities for differentiation from your competitors.

Content management

Conducting a content inventory and audit to understand what content is required at each customer touchpoint and how it can be optimised.

Measurement planning

Understanding where improvements have been made by planning what to measure.

The measurement framework below is one adapted and refined by Econsultancy during work with Digital Transformation clients.

framework for measurement planning

Strategy deployment

Team organisation

This is the determination of whether job roles, org structure, targets and remuneration are in line with newly designed sales and marketing processes.

Typically there may be expansion of mid-funnel roles, such as in sales development. New targets and leadership may be developed. Low touch sales teams may be identified.

In conclusion...

Econsultancy's new report refines the model for sales and marketing convergence, giving much more detail and several more frameworks (than featured in this post) for managing this process.

The drivers of this change are fairly widely recognised and many organisations have already begun to respond to new customer behaviours by changing org structure and process.

If you are interested in help with sales and marketing convergence, or want to conduct a capability audit as part of a digital transformation journey, you can find more information on our Digital Transformation pages.

Ben Davis

Published 8 July, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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