The disconnect between sales and marketing is legendary. Despite the fact that these are the two functional areas most responsible for driving revenue, they often seem to be working from separate playbooks, or – worse – working against one another.
This disjointed approach isn’t viable anymore.
It’s time to align these two teams for the benefit of buyers and the bottom line.
Get with the times, or get left behind.
The way people buy has changed. Problem is, most marketing and sales teams have been slow to catch up. While buyers have embraced the rapid and massive expansion of available options, sales and marketing are still trying to get ahead using the same, old, tired strategies, resources, and tactics.
Modern buyers have an almost infinite range of access, alternatives, and autonomy in the buying journey. And they are in control from start to finish:
- They are online 24/7 with the ability to instantly discover, research, and compare all the possibilities.
- They have become accustomed to a certain level of personalization in their interactions with companies.
- They are less patient.
- They are more skeptical.
The modern buyer has higher expectations across the board. They judge every buying interaction and transaction against the experiences they’ve had with the world’s largest, most sophisticated brands.
Sales and marketing haven’t ignored this revolution completely. Content marketing was the initial response to the shift of power from brands to buyers. Quality content was a step in the right direction, but we have new tools and technology at our disposal now. More importantly, with have a new lens through which to view the entire buyer engagement process.
Over a decade ago we acknowledged that the buyer is in control of the buying process. Marketers responded with high-value content for them to discover as they researched their product, service, and brand questions. Since then technology has evolved, allowing us to have real-time conversations, like live chat and video messaging, on our websites, communities and digital solutions. CMOs need to be well versed in this technology so they can ensure their brand is part of the conversation for both the potential buyer and current customers. The impact from this will vary, but the stakes are huge for both B2C and B2B brands, as consumers who research or buy via conversational marketing will ignore brands that don’t join them in this approach.
– Maria Pergolino, CMO, Former Anaplan, Apttus, Marketo
Conversational marketing is the natural evolution of content marketing
Conversational marketing is a holistic, buyer-centric marketing philosophy. It’s how sales and marketing can finally fulfill the promise of content marketing. Where content marketing offered buyers one-way engagement – here’s some information we think you’ll find helpful – conversational marketing delivers personalized and curated two-way engagement, aka an actual give-and-take, listen-and-respond conversation.
Key attributes of the conversational marketing philosophy include:
- A seamless conversation that doesn’t recognize the “borders” between marketing and sales. There are no silos. There is no handoff. There’s only the buyer.
- A shift in the roles of the marketing and sales teams from leading the buying process to empowering it based on meeting each buyer where they are and catering to their specific needs in real-time.
- An ongoing assessment of sales and marketing activity to ensure every action delivers real, tangible value to the buyer.
- A more authentic, personalized, relevant, and timely engagement style – powered in equal part by technology and humanity.
Conversational marketing is all about building trust and enabling authentic, contextual conversations via a variety of channels. And it’s about structuring those conversations around the buyer’s journey. In this new paradigm, marketing’s role extends beyond creating content to include curating the conversation. In a way, the conversation becomes a new kind of content – a highly contextual and personalized kind of content that is delivered based on a playbook that gives sales everything they need to know about the buyer including where they struggle and what content is available to help them meet those challenges.
Conversations are the future.
According to Forrester Research, only 0.75 percent of leads generated become closed revenue. That’s a pretty sobering statistic. The reason the vast majority of leads are such poor quality is simple: without a conversation, there’s no way to figure out whether or not an individual is a qualified, viable buyer. When your only interaction is a one-way exchange on a form, you have no way to assess the actual opportunity.
We have the data, the tools, and the technology to do better. We can create better experiences for our buyers and better outcomes for our sales and marketing teams. We are ready to leave behind the often arbitrary score-driven qualification models and embrace a buyer-centric model that finally creates alignment between the sales and marketing team by focusing all their combined efforts on the conversation at hand.
By implementing conversational marketing into our process we ensured our sales team was getting more meetings with prospects that actually wanted to be there, actually had a real need and actually wanted to be in a sales cycle.
– Matt Amundson, VP of Marketing at EverString