Why Sales and Marketing must work together across the whole sales cycle

For some organisations there’s a view that marketing’s job is to focus on filling the top of the funnel. Once marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are passed to sales, they will likely not have anything to do with the opportunity. The reality is, marketing are able (and must) do much more than that. Sales and marketing should work together through the entire buyer journey until the deal is won.

Never is this joint approach more critical than at this time of the year. For many businesses Q4 is the most demanding quarter, often make or break at year end.

What’s typically happening at this time of year…….

  • Sales leaders are pushing their teams to close deals in the pipeline in the hope of hitting or overachieving the 2021 targets.
  • Your CRM system hasn’t seen this much activity all year!
  • Your marketing team may have been asked not to bother sales during such a critical selling period.
  • So instead, they start working with finance on 2022 marketing planning and budgets.
  • It’s possibly the only time all year there’s little or no requests for marketing support from sales.
  • Conversely, the rest of the year there are regular sales and marketing meetings covering ‘what’s coming in from marketing?’ and ‘we need more marketing qualified leads’

…………Sound familiar?

Ironically, this is the exact time that marketing can help support sales more than ever; understanding what deals are ‘stuck’ in a certain stage of the pipeline and how they could help the final stages of opportunities make it over the line.

This is a great time to leverage your customer advocacy program, to support at both the RFP/bid stage, but also at any final negotiations. This is a great way to quantify the positive impact of your program.

Sales reps occasionally report the last-minute arrival of a ‘blocker’ in their opportunity. No matter how well prepared your sales rep has been on developing the account plan (hopefully together with marketing much earlier on), it happens, and it sucks. The deal suddenly stalls and in fact could be lost altogether. Not only is this annoying for the sales rep, but also their contact at the account who may have been working on this project for several months.

The good news is that there are multiple marketing tactics that can be executed to overcome this issue. And hopefully, help win the deal.

To start with, it’s key to understand what type of ‘blocker’ they are, maybe they’re a competitor’s ally, a new hire, a penny pincher, a non-believer, or simply risk averse. The sales rep will be able to uncover information through their internal contact and LinkedIn.

Once that’s understood, sales and marketing can work together to create messaging and content to counteract their objections. So now the sales rep can tackle concerns directly with the blocker, as well as marketing supporting sales by actions such as:

  1. Leveraging existing customers from your customer advocacy program who are in a similar role to the ‘blocker’ as references, often existing customers are happy to speak directly to a prospect.
  2. Targeting your social media and digital programs directly at the ‘blocker’ addressing their objections.
  3. Inviting the ‘blocker’ to industry/vertical forums, roundtables, and events.

As well as these targeted actions at the ‘blocker’, marketing must also keep the other multiple decision makers and influencers involved in the deal confident in your brand. So continually communicating with them through the entire buyer’s journey is crucial.

The days of marketing stepping away once a lead has been created and passed to sales are over. Successful technology companies understand that marketing must be involved at every stage of the sales cycle, working closely with their colleagues in sales until the deal is won.

If you’d like help optimising your pipeline and accelerating deals, please get in touch here.