In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, there’s a classic line uttered by actor Alec Baldwin that every salesperson has likely heard before. “A, B, C. A always, B be, C Closing. Always Be Closing,” he said. There’s another line in that movie that you may not know as well, but it’s something you hear talked about in sales teams even today. As legendary actor Jack Lemmon said, “the leads are weak.”
If you’re in sales management, you may hear this from your sellers all the time. At the same time, marketing leaders often hear complaints from their teams about sales not following up on quality leads.
Either way, it’s a problem, but are the leads really weak? And, if they are, who is at fault?
Answering these questions can help get you on the path to developing strong leads.
By the way, who is at fault?
Efficiently finding, targeting, and developing prospects is a team sport. It demands a collaborative effort between marketing and sales to develop ideal customer profiles (ICPs) to uncover high-value targets that can be developed into sales-qualified leads (SQLs). Both sales and marketing must agree on the ICP to target the right potential customers and create the marketing materials needed to nurture them effectively.
The benefits are clear. When there is tight alignment between marketing and sales teams, organizations outperform their peers with:
- 38% higher win rates
- 67% higher conversions
- 36% higher customer retention
Almost every organization would be happy to see those kinds of numbers consistently.
The highest-performing teams are combining this alignment with account-based marketing (ABM) strategies.
An analysis by the Harvard Business Review revealed additional benefits to this joint effort.
Faster, More Flexible Teams
When teams align, it’s much simpler to make strategic and tactical changes. When you get an agreement on a shift, everyone supports it and you can significantly reduce the time to market for deliverables.
Both areas benefit from different perspectives. Sales and marketing teams see things differently and often approach things from a different point of view. Collaboration allows both teams to see and understand these perspectives and leads to more creative problem-solving.
This may not be your first thought when you’re thinking about the impact of alignment, but nobody wants to work where they’re not valued or given the tools they need to do the job. Marketing wants to know that their work leads to closed sales. Sales wants to feel they have the support they need to generate revenue. Misalignment here can lead to turnover, especially for top performers.
Account-Based Marketing Demands a United Front
ABM is a powerful marketing tool that creates tight alignment between marketing and sales. Rather than cast the net far and wide and hope to catch what you can, ABM tightly defines high-potential targets and focus efforts on landing the big one — the high-value prospects who can lead to higher customer lifetime value (CLV).
ABM asks sellers to work with fewer (but better quality) leads. This can be a significant shift in mindset and scare sales leadership and sellers themselves. Such a shift in mindset can hold salespeople back from embracing ABM. The same holds true for the marketing team if they don’t focus efforts on generating the right leads.
Sales has traditionally been a numbers game. If you get more people into the sales funnel, the theory is that more people will come out the bottom. In reality, however, when you put the wrong leads into the funnel, you’re just wasting your time. ABM limits who you put into the funnel, segments your leads, and provides personalized and customized content to drive them towards conversion.
To be successful, ABM requires input from both sales and marketing.
Sales has always wanted to provide guidance to the marketing mix. Here’s their opportunity. In fact, input from across the entire organization is crucial to ABM because of the overall benefit to the marketing and sales process.
When sales and marketing are linked, it results in STRONGER LEADS.
The flip side is true, too. Estimates are that organizations waste more than $1 trillion per year due to misalignment. When you consider that nearly three-quarters of marketing leads never convert, yet take up 75% of the effort, you quickly realize something’s out of whack.
Misalignment can also undermine trust between sales and marketing teams and make everything more challenging.
Consistent Communication and Collaboration
Another area where sales and marketing often clash is over the development of sales materials. According to the Content Marketing Institute, as much as 90% of the content marketing departments create never gets used by the sales team. Talk about a waste of resources! This is frustrating for both marketing teams and sales teams.
A better solution is to collaborate on what materials are needed and what trends are being seen.
For example, if sales conversations consistently go in one particular direction, marketing needs to know so they can create the collateral and address the pain points. During the pandemic, for example, as companies were forced to move rapidly to remote work, salespeople in the tech industry needed to shift from selling software to selling cloud-based solutions. Online security companies needed to focus on cloud-based security for endpoints, including people working from home. Without a regular dialogue, the lag time in creating material can cost sales.
Shifts may also be recognized first on the marketing side. For example, if marketing teams suddenly notice an uptick in interest in a particular product or solution, they need to ensure the sales teams know to pursue them.
The Right Technology
ABM requires a robust and reliable marketing engine to ensure you’re delivering the most relevant content to the right targets at the right stage of the buyer’s journey. You need a powerful ABM platform that uses AI and automation to drive sales enablement and sales orchestration. This is the only real way to drive personalization at scale.
This is especially important in today’s B2B sales where buyers do the majority of their fact-gathering about products and services digitally before ever connecting with a salesperson. Delivering the right digital assets based on performance data can accelerate the sales process.
The right ABM platform will constantly be analyzing content for optimal performance and actively looking for intent signals that indicate it’s time for sales to engage. A united Marketing and Sales team working with a solid ABM strategy won’t miss a beat when it comes time to act on those intent signals. And more importantly, they won’t miss the perfect window of opportunity to engage and ultimately close a high-value target account.
To learn more about transforming your B2B marketing and make sure your leads will never be weak again, contact BusinessOnline, the B2B Performance Agency, today.