Brand Strategy. Brand Energy.
The primary purpose of marketing has always been to facilitate sales in some way shape or form. This could be by building brand awareness and buyer trust in your product, educating potential customers about the product or nurturing prospects before they become qualified leads.
Traditionally marketing and sales have been in different departments in larger organizations. Oftentimes they have been at odds with each other even though, in theory, they are on the same team.
The rise of social media is causing sales and marketing to converge in organizations as a result of changes in the buying process. The explosion of access to information made possible by the internet combined with the ease of sharing through social media has produced buyers who are well informed about what they want. They are tuning out advertising, doing their own research and not engaging sales reps until they are 60-70% of the way down the path to purchasing.
In addition, they expect more direct personal interaction with the people behind brands. They are not as trusting of brands as entities or even celebrity spokespeople for these brands.
These changes in buyer behavior and expectations have forced many sales organizations to change their strategies if they are to continue meeting their quotas/sales goals. Using social media strategically enables sales teams to engage with prospects further up the sales funnel, long before they are considering a purchase.
However, the rules of engagement on social media are different than in traditional marketing where information was usually pushed from vendors to consumers via advertising, direct mail and other one way tactics. Today’s rules demand that vendors provide value to prospects to earn their attention and trust before delivering sales messages.
Marketers are more experienced in nurturing relationships with a large audience through tools like newsletters, case studies and White Papers. Sales reps have primarily focused on building relationships with a limited number of key prospects on a one on one basis. The smartest sales professionals today are taking a page from marketing and learning how to brand themselves personally. They are using social media as a tool for their own personal prospecting as well as positioning themselves as a resource for their prospects. The best sales professionals have always done this, but social media makes it easier.
Given buyer resistance to most marketing materials because they are inundated with advertising, there is a greater need than ever for collaboration between sales and marketing. Sales can learn how to engage and personally nurture prospects on a one-to-many basis. Ideally Sales and Marketing can agree on a basic message so this is shared consistently across the sales team. Sales reps can post content to their own social profiles that they use for business, for example LinkedIn and Twitter in addition to their company Pages, which amplifies the reach of the content being shared by the organization. The content shared in social media channels should be 80-90% non-promotional.
Marketing can benefit from the insights of sales as to what their customers want most, what they are not happy with, what they are saying about competitors and other market intelligence. This information can be used by marketing and product development to better serve the needs of customers.
Please let us know what you are seeing in terms of convergence and collaboration between sales and marketing.