Last fall at a NETSEA event, Joe Galvin, Vice President and Research Director for SiriusDecisions, was the speaker. His insight and knowledge regarding sales and marketing was deep. His speaking skills, btw, if you are ever looking for a good speaker, are phenomenal. We were talking last week and I asked him if he would put some thought to a few questions regarding sales and marketing alignment.
Mike: Joe, you just came off a whirlwind tour with the SiriusDecisions Summit two weeks ago and the Sales 2.0 Conference this week. Personally, I attended the CMO Club Summit and Sales 2.0. It was interesting that in both cases, the attendees were buzzing with discussion about the need for alignment of sales and marketing so I blogged an article about it earlier this week. I assume it was also a topic at your event. What are you seeing as the top actions sales and marketing execs can do to make this alignment happen and to make it impact their companies?
Joe: We presented at our conference some eye opening data from our benchmark database showing radical differences in both profit and revenue between companies that have embraced sales and marketing integration versus those that haven’t. We identified the critical integration points between sales and marketing in demand generation, knowledge management, sales readiness and metrics. Among the 10 lessons learned from these leaders were the importance of a combined focus by sales and marketing on sales productivity which means applying marketing resources throughout the opportunity lifecycle. The requirement for shared metrics with an integrated opportunity pipeline measuring revenue and productivity. We learned the importance of integrating sales and marketing technology in terms of the marketing automation platform, core SFA and sales productivity applications like knowledge management, automated methodology or prospect development among many other valuable takeaways.
Mike: With all the buzz and budget around inbound marketing, outbound marketing and demand gen in general, what can a quota carrying sales rep do on their own to help get that all important discussion with a real prospect?
Joe: First, they should take advantage of and capitalize on every qualified lead sent to them by marketing. Our benchmark data shows that marketing contributes between 18 and 34% of the sales pipeline depending on segment. It’s not uncommon for sales people to ignore qualified leads simply because the first couple they called didn’t work out. Sales reps need to work closely with their teleprospecting resources to help them optimize lead generation capabilities. The other consideration is once you have a lead, how do you bring value to that initial interaction? Clients and prospects are overwhelmed by public domain information. As a sales professional in 2009, you must be able to tell them something they don’t know -- or can’t find on their own -- to gain their attention and respect. Finally, another lesson learned from our conference is the importance understanding the sources of opportunities and their conversion rates.
Mike: This is a topic relevant to Green Leads, so I was taking an informal survey at the two events and thought I would ask you as well. As you know, we're in the business of setting appointments with C/VP level prospects for our clients. Years ago, it was thought that the only way to start the sales process was to shake hands and get face-to-face. Lately though, we're seeing more and more of the prospects we target requesting that the first sales meeting be by phone or a web meeting. Do you think this is due to a shift in the buying process or the way people do business? Is it a trend sales reps have to start to accommodate and/or take advantage of?
Joe: I think this reinforces the fact that buyers are now in control of how they will accept and absorb information. It’s no longer how I want to present (sell) to you, rather, how do you absorb information. So, sales people have to be more than the traditional bright smile and shiny shoes; they have to constantly adapt to the buyer processes and be able to communicate with them in a multitude of ways. There are three b2b realities that can’t be ignored, one of which is that business-to-business buyers can’t be sold. They control their buying process and the flow of information. This reality is challenging traditional sales cycle thinking.
Mike: Once that relationship starts, the selling starts. Do you think buyers are changing the way they make buying decisions now, too? Could there be a 2.0 movement in the way companies purchase and if so, should sales reps start taking that into account?
Joe: There is no question that buyers' behaviors have changed. First, there are more people involved in the decision which means sales people have to adapt their message to the audience and where they are in their buying process. This presents a huge knowledge challenge for sales people if they are to be relevant to each of the buying entities. Navigating how prospects buy is now more important than how we want to sell. This will force sales people to be more knowledgeable about their products/solutions but also more knowledge about what their buyer knows. As an example, if marketing can share with sales what documents they downloaded or events they attended, the sales rep has a huge opportunity to bring value in that interaction.
Mike: So now for the alignment. How does marketing play in Sales 2.0?
Joe: Sales 2.0 initially was a technology first approach to selling as presented at the inaugural event in November 2007 – it sounded a lot like the old SFA promises from 1997. Since then it has morphed multiple times depending on who has published the latest perspective on what is or isn’t Sales 2.0. Now it is beginning to embrace some of the broader dynamics sweeping the buyer-selling world that we spoke about today. However, what I’ve observed in the Sales 2.0 discussion to date is the lack of a focused perspective of marketing’s impact on buyers and how marketing needs to more than just demand gen. As long as sales 2.0 is a sales initiative, we will continue to focus on what has worked in sales in the past – not what is require to succeed in the go forward economy. I think we should consider thinking about sales 2.10, with the one being the inclusion of marketing and the recognition of marketing’s increasingly important role in buying.
Mike:Mike: And last, the all important B2B Marketing Thought Leaders Curry Poll. Do you prefer Red or Green curry?
Joe: Not a big Curry fan – and that includes Eddie Curry of the New York Knicks!
Mike: As a lifelong Celtics fan, I can respect that.