Sales and marketing departments have traditionally had a fractious relationship, not least because they are made up of very different people. One strategic and analytical, protective of the brand, the other looking build relationships and score goals.
In recent times, the advent of social selling via LinkedIn has meant that salespeople and buyers are more visible to each other online and they can engage digitally early on, at a stage in the sales cycle where traditionally only the marketing department has been responsible for providing leads. Sales can in effect ‘hack’ lead generation.
However, this opportunity comes with a large caveat – time. Salespeople don’t have the time to do this lead generation – they still need a team supporting their networks and passing on qualified sales leads, and this support team often resides in the marketing department.
Sales Development Reps (SDRs) or inside sales are concerned with engaging prospects at the outset of a digital relationship, effectively helping them learn more about the solution beyond what’s available online and qualifying them via initial exploratory conversations. It’s a crucial time save and ensures salespeople remain time efficient. The customer facing or Field Salesperson is deployed at the optimum moment to bring the sale home.
Be prepared for longer lead times though. When someone downloads content it doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. You can see they are highly engaged and SDRs can find out information on these people – how to help on their journey of exploration – it’s a longer game. Yes you could call everyone the moment they engage, but you might alienate nine out of ten, whereas the rewards are higher if you’re prepared to wait.
Marketing still needs to control the consistency of content output, ensure it’s branded, on message. You don’t want the sales department running their own campaigns.
For marketing and sales to work well in this new environment, there needs to be a solid work flow between them – they need to work in effect as one team, share quarterly meetings, perhaps even reside in the same office. Whatever next!