Lately I have been thinking a lot about how to close the traditional gaps–sometimes real, sometimes perceived–between what sales needs and what marketing delivers. Step one is about aligning goals and establishing accountability and trust with each other, which I call “One Flag,” a principle I explored in a recent blog. Step two is about going to market with common messages and value propositions and employing an omnichannel strategy to communicate them, which I call “One Voice.”
Today, enablement increasingly means helping sales people understand buyer personas and how to engage with prospects in new ways. Marketing needs to help Sales become familiar with relevant content that they can share with their accounts through social media, account based marketing, peer communities and forums. Just like they need to know how to read an annual report, today’s sales people need to be fluent in using new generations of prospecting, engagement, and selling tools like Linked In, Twitter, Slideshare, and YouTube along with emerging tools like Buffer, Feedly, Bottlenose, Quintly and others.
Sales must use these tools in ways that are authentic and influential to their audience–not heavy handed. Because their buyers are out there, operating as secret shoppers, consuming content, opinions, and recommendations about your brand, your products, and even you yourself. So when they do engage with you or others from your organization, those interactions should be consistent and natural extensions of what they’ve discovered on their own.
Think of the last time you bought a car, for example: If you are like me, you did all your research and were most of the way to making your decision before you ever set foot into a dealership. You researched online information about options, reliability ratings, factory discounts, and vendor promotions, as well as reviews from other customers and industry perspectives. You followed a Twitter feed like #edmunds that gave you an unfiltered view into who is talking about the car and what they are saying in real time.
You ran different scenarios using online calculators that told you what you should pay and how you might finance it. Then you show up on the dealer lot, confident and armed with your research, your bottom line, and the competitors’ pricing. Your work was probably 95% complete. In that situation, the last thing you want is a sales person who doesn’t know you to devalue all that work and then try to redirect your intentions.
You’ve done your research and want to buy a car. As a buyer, you view the final negotiation and contracting phase simply as a formality to doing commerce. If the sales team pushes you too hard in a different direction without having earned that right of influence, you might just walk!
This example shows how increasingly the objective of both sales and marketing is to influence the buyer to prefer your product or service before ever interacting directly with a sales person. You want your prospects to engage with the attitude of “Yes, I have seen the work you have been doing in this space and I am ready to talk.” They need to feel that you understand them and their needs–in short, their persona. Because by engaging potential buyers with “One Voice” that’s consistent across all channels–including the in-person experience—you will have an educated and motivated buyer who is ready to seal the deal.