How to reach today’s B2B buyer: A hybrid sales and marketing model

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Today’s buyer wields more power than ever before. They enjoy access to more information and are better informed about your company and products. Not only this, but they are more knowledgeable than ever before because they spend more time doing self-guided research.

The art of the cold call is dead to today’s buyer – they have fortressed themselves from intrusive sales tactics. They expect salespeople to have some knowledge of what they are interested in, and looking for.

Just take a look at some recent statistics:

  • 75% of B2B purchases are now influenced by social media
  • 57% of buying decisions are made before a sales representative is now involved in the process
  • 97% of cold calls today do not have a successful outcome

It’s amazing to think that more than half of buying decisions are made before a sales team even gets involved. However, that doesn’t mean sales can step back and let marketing handle it all on their own. In order to win the hearts of buyers, sales and marketing must work hand in hand.

Sales and marketing learn to play nice

In the business world, marketing professionals and salespeople often struggle to collaborate or agree on anything. They question each other’s methods and love to play the blame game around the quantity and quality of leads versus the timely and professional follow-up on those leads. That doesn’t need to be the case. In fact, there’s a relatively simple solution to get everyone on the same page. The key is a new hybrid model that blends marketing and sales.

What is ‘hybrid’?

In science, hybrid refers to anything derived from heterogeneous sources, or composed of elements of different or incongruous kinds. 

For those without a scientific background, that simply means creating something by combining two different elements. This is what marketers and sales professionals must do. It’s time to blur the lines separating these two functions and have them learn from the other’s strengths.

The convergence of sales and marketing

So how does this merger of sales and marketing manifest itself? Well for one, sales professionals these days have to develop super-human senses. They must be tuned in to social channels, email opens, website visits and any other potential buying signals.

Sounds an awful lot like marketing, doesn't it? Your potential buyers are a powerful force and they won’t wait around for you. That means marketing and sales teams have a very short window when it comes to responding to engagement. Potential buyers will visit a website, download content, and move on. Their interaction is recorded by marketing and passed on to sales. 

The problem is that currently this process takes a couple of days…or longer! Would you still be interested in purchasing something from a department store if a sales attendant said they’d get to you in a few days? Not likely.

Sales and marketing must work closer together to make sure the way leads are handed over is as fast as possible.

Some recent research that we conducted found that the odds of contacting a lead are 100 times higher if the sales team responds within five minutes as opposed to waiting 30 minutes.

The importance of predictive

Marketing automation has been around for a while, but sales is catching up. By using the power of data science and predictive analytics, sales teams are taking a page out of the marketing playbook and looking to automate their processes. The sales acceleration space has emerged between marketing automation and CRM technologies.

We have responded to the market demand for more personalised selling by creating a self-learning, predictive engine that scores incoming leads based on their likelihood to buy and prescribes to sales reps the optimal times to contact them. This ensures reps are responding faster to the right people with the right content. It also helps marketers work closer with sales teams, creating a more seamless transition of information between the two.

Recipe for sales and marketing alignment

The need for a hybrid sales and marketing team is evident, but the real question is how can these teams work together to meet and exceed customer expectations and deliver on business objectives?

Here are a few simple steps to follow:

  • Listen intently to buying signals and personalise messaging to suit the buyer profile and the stage of their buying journey
  • Plan and build common objectives and compensation models as a team and make performance against those objectives highly visible
  • Specialise your lead qualification, prospecting and sales teams
  • Add structure and accountability into the lead management process - be sure to "mind the gap" for handoffs between marketing and sales teams

The era of functions operating independently in separate silos has ended. Engaging immediately and intelligently with qualified leads is more important than ever, which is why organisations need an intersection of sales and marketing.

As these teams lean on each other and incorporate data science and predictive systems that prescribe specific sales actions, they’ll win over today’s busy buyers.

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Mario King
23 Nov 2015, 1:49 p.m.

Great article and both roles should evolve I think.
One important element of a more 'hybrid synergy' of the two functions lies in getting the strategy right between the two functions based on what has worked well for both.

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MariaCharlton
28 Dec 2015, 10:33 p.m.

I was going to share this article as I am a B2B specialist but I am against any article that presumes sales and marketing have, are or will be separate functions. Sales is a vital part of the marketing communication process.

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