Where one sector easily switched to digital, it was a major switch for another. In the B2C market, almost all companies have switched to digital marketing and sales. But in the B2B market it is often still common to arrange physical moments with the (potential) customer transactions. You can easily hand out your business cards at a conference, have a quick chat during a business drink and expand your network smoothly at a workshop.
However, in the past year, B2B sales teams have had to reinvent themselves due to corona, because personal contact with their (potential) customers was simply not possible. An explosive increase in digital initiatives such as online events, webinars and video calls became a fact. The virus is (unfortunately) still out of control and companies are increasingly experiencing the benefits of digitization. My expectation is that we will no longer completely return to the old situation, so let’s continue and seize the opportunities that digitization offers to ensure that sales and marketing teams optimally connect with each other. But, how do you do that optimally? Six tips:
1. MAKE IT EASY TO WORK TOGETHER
The first step is to bring together (virtually) teams in the field of documentation and collaboration and to make sharing information easy. Sales teams work on the basis of the information that the marketing department receives from (potential) customers. The marketing department in turn uses the feedback from the sales department to create even more relevant campaigns, designed to pique the interest of potential customers. How do you make this sharing of information easier? To this end, Microsoft has intelligently integrated its services into Microsoft Teams so that you can manage, edit, share and discuss documents and data in a user-friendly and secure manner. Other cloud-based systems such as Google Drive and Dropbox are good alternatives. If external partners, such as agencies, also gain access to this environment, experience has shown that you can make an extra efficiency boost in this way.
2. MAKE AGREEMENTS ABOUT THE WAY OF WORKING AND DO REVISION CHECKS
Important when sharing files in the cloud of assets is that it is understandable and accessible to both the sales and marketing teams. Make joint agreements about the process, the storage and document structures and definitions of key terms such as ‘lead’ and ‘prospect’. It is also essential to develop a common understanding of the ideal customer profile. A well-defined profile helps both teams discover which potential customers the digital marketing team should target. If both teams agree together, they can work together even better. I notice that a regular revision check with all stakeholders – whether the agreements are useful or need to be tightened up – ensures efficiency and a strong team spirit.
3. CREATE COMMON GOALS
A marketing team works differently and has slightly different objectives than a sales team. The marketing team may be a little more digital savvy, so get it right with both teams. Mutual understanding and commonly aligned goals are the foundation for solid results. It starts with mapping the customer journey, from branding and awareness to conversion and upsell. You can jointly identify measurable goals for each phase of the journey. Translate this into a report or dashboard with clear KPIs and ensure that both teams can work with it. This way you can also keep each other sharp, assess, optimize and analyze your activities. Simply start in an Excel sheet and expand it later with smart tools and models where every step is measured and analyzed. The goal of your marketing team doesn’t stop with a click to the website, the goal of your sales team doesn’t stop with just the sales figures. Create common goals and you will find that you become more effective in the short and long term.
4. FIND A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN BRANDING AND SALES COMMUNICATION
An optimized customer journey with common goals isn’t just useful for generating sales. Even if your company is looking for stronger tactics for generating brand or product awareness. For example, why does the sales team report significantly more online sales on weekends? What is the possible link with an ongoing marketing campaign? With a well-designed dashboard, or first an extensive Excel sheet, both teams can analyze the data and respond in time. The balance between branding and sales communication is thus made visible.
5. EXPERIMENT AND OPTIMIZE (DIGITAL) CONTENT
You can only give away a business card once and you can only get the first impression right once. That’s the interesting thing about digital content. Always experiment and optimize with your digital content. Always keep trying and looking for the method with the best effect.
With small parts of your budget, you test which type of content appeals to your target group and for which phase in the customer journey it can best be used. Does downloading a whitepaper work better than an advertisement where you can directly enter data? Is it better to promote a blog or a case study? Which landing page works best? By using A-B tests or adding dynamic elements here, you know which content variant scores best on the KPI that you have determined for this (that joint objective!). And with target group data from available advertising tools, such as LinkedIn, you can see which content scores best in certain regions, sectors, companies or job groups. Or which content does not score, that is also useful information. Encourage consultation between marketing and sales teams on this part, because I see that mutual understanding of each other’s skills is an important factor here.
6. USE SMART TECHNOLOGY
Where personal collaboration is promoted by, for example, Microsoft Teams (or Zoom and the like), you can manage, optimize and analyze digital marketing and communication activities by, for example, linking the advertising systems of Google, Facebook and LinkedIn with the website analysis program and a CRM. system. This sounds complicated, but these tools are made for it. Collect the information from these systems in one place, make sure it is properly explained and link it to the KPIs. For example, we create usable dashboards in Google Studio or Supermetrics where the results are up-to-date and available for every team.
Integration is not easy. It requires an investment in both time and resources from all parties involved and meeting regularly to discuss goals, create content and most importantly, celebrate success.
This blog was written by Jochem Zwetsloot, Digital Director at Edelman Amsterdam