While the practice of aligning the B2B marketing, selling and buying processes has seen a lot of development in the recent years, there’s no doubt that there’s still a great deal of room for improvement, as evidenced by 4 disturbing statistics:

  • 80-90% of all the materials generated by marketing for sales consumption remain largely or completely unused
  • Sales people are still wasting dozens of hours per month (re)creating materials to support their sales activities
  • Only 1 in 8 of all meetings with sales people are rated as in any way “valuable” by prospects
  • There’s a growing trend for complex B2B buying cycles to end in a decision to do nothing

You’ve got to wonder, haven’t you, whether these issues could perhaps be related? Here are the 7 prescriptions I can offer you to help you break away from this cycle of wasted effort and under-performance.

1: Sales and Marketing MUST get together and agree what an ideal prospect looks like…

…but, as I pointed out, traditional demographic segmentation simply isn’t enough: you’ve got to identify the structural, behavioural and situational criteria that define your most valuable opportunities, market to them, and qualify against them.

2: Sales and Marketing MUST identify with their prospect’s key stakeholders…

…and it’s not just their role in the company or in the decision-making process: you’ve got to identify and understand their likely issues, motivations and concerns, their personal priorities, and the external information sources that influence their thinking.

3: Sales and Marketing MUST work out what their prospect’s Actionable Issues are…

…it’s obvious that a product- or service-out approach to marketing won’t get you very far, but even if you’ve seen the light and switched to a issue- or problem-in approach, you got to select the issues you choose to target intelligently, and have compelling answers to the following questions: “why change?”, “why now?” and “why us?”

4: Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline MUST be defined by the key stages in the Buyer’s Journey…

…and more than that, the milestones that separate each stage must be based upon clearly observable evidence of a step forward in your prospect’s buying decision process, include a measurement of velocity, and every “opportunity” must be regularly requalified.

5: Your Marketing Messages and Sales Conversations MUST be aligned to the stage your prospect has reached…

…but beyond that, if you can’t clearly define what stage of the buying journey a piece of content is intended to influence, and what outcome you are seeking to achieve, then you shouldn’t be producing that piece of content at all. Don’t waste your time.

6: Marketing MUST help Sales to have intelligent conversations…

…in fact, if you’re supporting a complex B2B buying process that involves dialogue that stretches over an extended period of time, every piece of content ought to be accompanied by a series of talking points that can give direction to the subsequent sales conversation.

7: Sales and Marketing MUST share great answers to Tough-to-Answer questions…

…every complex sales throws up a series of tough-to-answer questions, whether they be objections or requests for clarification. You simply can’t afford to have your sales people re-invent the wheel every time. Pool and share the best answers!

So there you have it 7 simple prescriptions. Simple to agree with, harder to implement, unless you have two things on your side: a clear, mutually agreed, buyer-aligned sales-and-marketing plan, and a buyer-aligned sales and marketing playbook.

Find the presentation I made at the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in London on the same topic here.

Click here for the full post.

Bob Apollo is the Managing Partner of Inflexion-Point, and an accredited align.me Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to the Inflexion-Point blog.