Taking the Sales Approach to Marketing – Part 1
Recently, Women In Revenue, an amazing organization empowering current and future female leaders in Sales and Marketing roles, asked me to do a “thought leadership” presentation in front of, and alongside, inspirational women who have written books, been keynote speakers and have thousands of followers on Twitter. Needless to say, I was a tad nervous. All I have are my experiences—my failures, successes, and lessons learned along the way—but, does that really qualify me as a thought leader?
Using those experiences to guide me, I decided to tap into my journey to CMO and look back on what got me to this point. And, I discovered that a lot of my sales experience has influenced my success in Marketing. When I stepped in to lead Appirio’s Marketing team five years ago, it was considered a temporary position. But, they say “stick with what you know,” right? As a saleswoman, all I knew was how to sell—so that’s what I used.
As it turns out, taking that Sales approach to Marketing really worked for me, and it can really work for other marketers, too. So, putting on my “thought leader” hat, here’s how you can conquer the world of Marketing by taking a Sales approach.
Focus on the Right Accounts
My foray into Sales was on the Strategic Account team. Working under all of the top Salespeople, I found that the top sellers are maniacally focused. If it’s not going to get them a deal, they’re not going to spend one second on it. Time is money in Sales. As soon as you figure out something is not a good use of your time, get out and go work on things that are.
The same is true for marketers. They have a hard time “turning business away,” which is why time is often wasted going after every account, even when it isn’t the right fit. But, by establishing a clear ideal customer profile—a description of the company, not the individual buyer or end-user, that’s a perfect fit for your solution—you can identify who to target, then focus your time, energy and resources on those accounts.
Engage the Entire Buying Team
An enterprise Sales Manager knows that a “single-threaded” deal (where the sales rep is only working with one person) isn’t going to close. And, that’s because the rep isn’t focusing on the entire buying team. Today, there are 10 buyers involved in an average buying decision. Sales understand the value of engaging the entire buying team to close a deal. So, why is Marketing still tracking leads and deeming them pipeline? Leads are, in essence, a single-threaded deal—the very thing we want to avoid!
Current lead-based solutions just don’t cut it anymore. B2B Marketing teams are switching to an account-based approach and investing in ABM platforms. Why? Because an ABM platform worth its salt provides the right insights to understand the entire buying team. By mapping together buyers’ known and unknown behavior, marketers can uncover where an account is in their buying journey, as well as which personas are most critical to engage at that stage. With access to essential personas’ engagement history, you can orchestrate multi-persona outreach to ensure you’re surrounding the entire buying team with relevant messaging rather than tracking a bunch of single-threaded leads going nowhere.
Know the Customer Better Than They Know Themselves
In Sales, I was taught to walk the halls of our customers and engage with them. Not to date myself, but it’s harder to do that these days. Because customers are more distributed, there may not even be a hall to walk. As more and more of the Sales process is done digitally, revenue teams are dancing in the dark. So, how do you research customers and connect with them, knowing what they want before they do?
Now, you have to walk the “digital hallways” of customers by using AI and Big Data to pick up a prospect’s signal—which tells you what buyers are researching, what their competitors are researching, which of your competitors they’re researching, etc. Then, you can use this signal to understand your customer and their needs to deliver a response that offers value to them in real-time. Taking these insights from intent data and predictive analytics and combining it with orchestration capabilities allows you to engage appropriately and create a great customer experience.
Focusing on the right accounts, engaging the entire buying team and understanding your prospects are essential for marketers navigating the B2B buying journey, but they’re not the only ways to win with a Sales mindset.
Stay tuned for Part Two on how to use the Sales approach to Marketing.