Dr. Mary Shea, a principal analyst for B2B marketing with Forrester Research, recently wrote a piece entitled, “B2B Buyers Make the Case for Better Marketing and Sales Alignment.” In that article, Dr. Shea notes that we’re “five years into the age of the customer, and the modern B2B buyer has high expectations. They’re more knowledgeable, independent, and self-directed than ever. They no longer rely on your salespeople for product, pricing, and other information. And they don’t want to be told what they already know.”
She also points out that many marketing and sales teams are still wrapped up in the all-too-common finger-pointing loop, blaming each other when things go south. The salespeople continue to complain that the quantity and quality of the leads are sub-par, and the marketers criticize the salespeople for poor follow-up.
“The empowered B2B buyer is neither concerned with how your organization is structured and who’s responsible for the content on your website, nor are they interested in talking to a sales rep simply because they downloaded a white paper,” Dr. Shea says. “Your buyers want contextual interactions with both human and digital assets across a holistic but non-linear journey. And, by in large, they want their experiences with salespeople to be of high value.”
I would add that the alignment issue often bleeds over into the customer experience realm as well. Today’s B2B marketing leaders should initiate the effort to make sure that their team, the sales team, and the customer service team are all marching to the same drummer. That’s the best way to ensure that the buyer’s journey will be as smooth and rewarding as possible.
Dr. Shea recommends that marketers address the alignment issue “by allowing the lines between marketing and sales to blur to better serve customers. Identify a couple of buyer-centric initiatives like social selling or account-based marketing and align marketing and sales compensation in more meaningful ways. Place the buyer at the center of your universe and seed more cohesion between teams.”
A final thought: “Want to align marketing and sales? Align them both with the customer.” ~Christine Crandell