Sales and marketing teams are working more closely than they have ever done before – or at least they should be.
A lingering convention, however, often still results in these two key departments working separately – and even, at times, at loggerheads with one another. Indeed, even with the best will in the world, some firms are continuing to struggle with the concept of melding their sales and marketing departments into one coherent team with one coherent vision.
Despite the fact that 80% of businesses recognize the benefits of greater alignment between sales and marketing, most (60%) aren’t unifying their divisions.
Many companies still run their sales and marketing operations as entirely separate entities, sometimes with each team working at opposite ends of the building, or even completely in different locations altogether. When this happens, a division is formed – physically, figuratively, and, most detrimental of all, professionally.
In such circumstances, communications break down within the workforce. And where this is too often exemplified, it’s in a fundamental discrepancy between sales and marketing as to what defines a lead as sales-ready.
The marketing guys have their own idea of a sales-ready lead, but the sales team takes a different view of what constitutes a genuine opportunity to make a sale.
Here’s the typical scenario
The marketing team nurture their leads to the point that they believe are sales-ready, and then ping them over to the sales department, which is subsequently expected to deliver the conversions.
During this exchange, very little useful communication takes place, and the sales team end up with a load of leads that they don’t believe are sales-ready at all – and of course, when they fail to close deals, it’s the marketing team that they blame. Loggerheads indeed.
Aligning sales and marketing
Clearly this isn’t an efficient way to operate. But what can be done? Let’s return to the Marketing Week article once more for a little inspiration:
Unification doesn’t mean a full shake-up of departments or a new sales and marketing boss, instead marketers need to find ways to collaborate more closely with their sales colleagues, much as they do with the rest of the business.
This is true. And one of the ways that marketing can start working more effectively with sales is to start working their social media magic on leads as they pass through the bottom of the sales funnel (BoFu).
Indeed, the support that marketing can give sales should no longer be restricted to lead generation, creating brand awareness, and other top of the funnel (ToFu) efforts. For real results, marketing needs to extend their role to nurture prospects right through to the bottom, and be active in aiding the final conversion of each sales-ready lead.
Building social media into your BoFu strategy
Social media can be used to great effect at the bottom of the funnel. So let’s drill down into the strategies that can be employed.
Providing personalised consistency of message at this crucial stage
ToFu marketing efforts are all about driving web traffic and creating interest. As prospects move down the funnel towards the middle and bottom, the game needs to be stepped up.
Business relationships are founded on trust. The content that the marketing team has produced to build interest in a product will hopefully have been under-laid with the brand’s message, whatever that happens to be. Ultimately, though, the message will be inspiring trust in the brand – and now more than ever, it’s important that prospects don’t forget that message and lose trust at the last minute.
Marketers will naturally have been engaging with prospects – either directly or indirectly – on social media. Now the lead has been defined as sales-ready, the sales team is of course brought in, but, crucially, this isn’t the end of the road for the marketer, especially if there remains a discrepancy in the “sales-ready” definition.
The marketer must now continue to reach out to the prospect by means of further sharing of relevant blog posts, video links, presentations, visuals – anything and everything – and ensuring that these are placed on the prospect’s social networks; where they won’t be missed.
With regards to content, it’s at this stage where any potential questions that the prospect may still have should be answered. A how-to blog post – or, even better, a video – should find its way into their newsfeeds.
Perhaps a case study can be revisited by the marketer and promoted. Any mentions by satisfied customers should be retweeted, or articles from key influencers that highlight the benefits of the product or service.
The idea is to keep the prospect engaged and in mind of your brand and your product’s value propositions as they’re making the final decision to make the purchase.
Promote customer testimonials and positive reviews
When there’s a conversion in the air, a prospect can never have too much reassurance that they’re about to make a valuable investment.
Testimonials, of course, provide a great source of proof of performance, and the marketer needs to have a collection of references ready to share with prospects should they ask for it.
But why wait for them to ask? Send out a thank you message on Facebook, Twitter or any other channels to all of your important customers and entice them to reply and engage. This will begin a favorable conversation about your brand, which will land before the eyes of the prospect. Alternatively, create a blog post that essentially acts as a case study of the success a particular customer has had with your product or service, or garner the data from your satisfied customers to show percentages of improved business that those who have used you have enjoyed.
Get this information in front of the prospect, and help the sales team finalize the conversion.
Offer Q&A sessions
Another content route to go down at the BoFu stage is to offer some sort of web conference or Q&A session on the targeted prospect’s preferred network.
When prospects are in the final decision-making process, they’ll naturally have questions about their potential investment. In 2016, the empowered consumer will often take to social media to ask other users of your product or service what they think about it. With your prospects identified, these conversations should be easy to track down, and so the marketer needs to reach out and engage.
An offer of a one-to-one session will be of great value to the prospect, and this can be offered via practically any social network. A web conference, however, where more people are invited along, may be more appropriate. The idea of either of these sessions is to remove any ambiguities and clear up any questions that the prospect may have, and this includes pricing guidelines, future support for customers, and any bespoke offerings that may be included in the deal.
Last minute discounts, coupons and offers
Between sales and marketing, the strength of the lead should be able to be estimated quite accurately. If necessary, therefore, in order to seal the deal, last minute discounts/offers/coupons should be created and proffered on social.
A nice by-product of this tactic, of course, is that you may very well net a few extra customers in the process. Whether the offer is for bulk discount, 10% off for all of your valued Facebook fans, free shipping, or some sort of repeat business offer will of course be determined by your business model and indeed the targeted prospect. But, a last minute deal is sure to delight, and tip the balance in favour of the conversion.
Back to you
What other ways can social media be built into the BoFu strategy to unite sales and marketing? I’d love to know what you think. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.