10 Ways B2B Marketers Can Improve Relationships With Sales Teams
Integration of Teams…
In business-to-business (B2B) organizations, sales and marketing departments are traditionally at odds with each other—competing for time, resources and accolades. It doesn’t have to be this way.
At Markitects, we’ve had tremendous success integrating our work with the goals and objectives of our clients’ sales organizations. In fact, we consider it to be a top priority and use it to gauge our overall program success. So much so, that we present our marketing program metrics to sales teams on a monthly basis at their pipeline meetings. At those meetings, we also gain valuable feedback to adjust our programs, and we use that venue to ask for participation in videos and customer stories.
The following are 10 ways you can buck the trend and take more initiative in building ties with your or your clients’ sales teams. Try these suggestions and I’m confident you’ll see some dramatic improvements.
- Meet regularly with the sales executive.
When you meet with a sales executive, come prepared with an agenda and respect their time constraints. Try to cover strategic topics without getting too far into the details. Listen to his or her priorities first, think about how you can help them meet the company’s objectives and then respond with suggestions. Don’t be afraid to bring up new ideas or complex topics that need brainstorming — the executive will likely appreciate that you took the initiative to resolve a difficult problem.
- Obtain access to weekly or monthly sales meetings.
This is a tremendous opportunity to learn, listen and gain new insights. Salespeople touch the customer frequently; therefore, they intuitively recognize the voice of the customer, common lingo and hot issues. If you have the opportunity to present to the sales team on a regular basis, keep it short — no more than 10 to 15 minutes — and make sure you have props and the appropriate tools, like a projector, to show your work or make your point visually.
- Email sales managers monthly.
Once a sales team is more familiar with you, email the members as a group on a monthly basis to make sure they know about new campaigns, marketing materials and tools, as well as to solicit feedback and suggestions. Don’t be surprised if you hear from someone who didn’t want to speak up at a meeting.
- Conduct email campaigns “from” individual salespeople.
Regardless of the customer relationship management (CRM) tool your company has adopted, send targeted product-oriented emails from individual salespeople versus a general email address, like marketing@ or sales@. If not overused, this will promote closer ties between the salesperson and customers, as well as improve your open and click rates. In our experience, B2B open rates rise by 5% or 6% (from an average of 12% to 18% or more), and click rates can double. We have also found that subject lines with six to eight words deliver the highest open rates.
- Create and manage a marketing drive.
Don’t assume that a salesperson will go to the company website to download current marketing materials the same way a customer or prospect would. Salespeople, in general, are focused on resolving customer issues, so they may not be paying complete attention to your emails or at meetings. Make sure that current, up-to-date marketing assets are available on a marketing drive or section of your internal portal. Also, tag any new assets by industry, product type or application, just as you would for a blog post, so salespeople can find materials easily.
- Involve those who have the technical expertise to participate in a video.
If your sales team consists of senior-level experts, use them to communicate any special technical or industry expertise. Senior sales leaders often know more about how to market to a particular audience segment than anyone in marketing ever will. As with meetings, respect their time and help them with scripting and storyboarding. Once you complete one video, you are likely to get requests from other sales leaders for more.
- Showcase your work in frequently used spaces.
Visit the company’s training rooms. Most likely, there’s nothing on the walls except a projection screen and a whiteboard. You can easily reformat or redesign some of your digital assets into poster art. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people notice it and comment favorably. Just make sure you get the permission from an executive or facility manager first. If your poster art is an excerpt from an article that has been published, make sure you add the phrase, “As seen in.”
- Display a suggestion box.
Invite members of your sales team to stop by every now and then. Whether for suggestions, criticism or feedback, ask them to drop a note in your suggestion box.
- Keep track of the competition.
Competitive analysis is often overlooked by both the sales and marketing organizations for many reasons. It’s time intensive, changes frequently and can be difficult to find. If you can assign this task to someone in marketing and closely oversee it, competitive research can provide valuable insights into how others are marketing their products and services. Present your findings at the sales meetings and ask for the sales perspective to round out your understanding.
- Learn a product.
There’s no faster way to earn the respect of a sales organization than by learning about your company’s products and services. No matter how technical, start with one and gain an in-depth understanding through training, demonstrations or other methods, and you’ll be seen as a valuable asset not only to salespeople but to the entire organization.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you become more integrated with your company’s sales teams and gain some much-deserved respect along the way.