The Impact of Changing Buying Processes on Sales & Marketing Alignment

 

Posted By Qvidian | Nov 20, 2012

 

Last week I participated in Marketo’s Marketing Nation summit panel on, ‘Marketing and Sales: It’s Time to Play Nice.’

It was a good discussion with lots of great thinking but there is one topic that I think needs to be addressed in much more depth.

I often hear people talk about “the new B2B buyer,” but rarely do they discuss the impact this has on sales & marketing alignment. There’s no question that the buying process has changed significantly in the last several years. Gone are the days when the sales rep is the gatekeeper and controls what information is presented to the buyer.

Marketing is connecting with potential buyers well before sales gets involved, and these buyers are looking for consistent & relevant communications provided by both the sales and marketing organizations. A recent study by Demand Gen Report revealed that 70% of buyers indicated that “consistent and relevant communications” by both organizations was key in choosing a firm as their vendor. Hence, the need for strong sales & marketing alignment.

Sales and marketing alignment

Buyers today are firmly in control of the engagement. They do heavy online research to create a short-list of vendors, and they leverage the increasing power of social media and peer-to-peer communication to make decisions even before they engage with a sales rep. Buyers are doing research and taking action online without the salesperson’s knowledge. They’re scouring your website, they’re downloading content and they’re engaging with your social channels.

This is where savvy marketers are using marketing automation technology like Marketo to move the new B2B buyer through the buying process and to compensate for the salesperson’s loss of control over the flow of information. Marketers today can track online activities and behaviors and transform that data into knowledge that is presented to the sales rep in a consumable format in the CRM system – or in the case of Qvidian, in a Sales Playbook.

The same Demand Gen Report study revealed that almost 95% of recent purchasers said the vendor they chose provided them “with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.” Content like case studies, best practices, white papers, competitive comparisons, etc. It’s critical that sales people can easily access the right content at the right time during the sales cycle to meet the needs of today’s buyer.

This is more than simply finding the product brochure – it’s matching content to the buyer persona. For example, if you’re selling to a CIO for a bank, you need content that addresses the needs of banking CIOs. If sales and marketing aren’t aligned in this area, the buyer will find another vendor who is.

So what does this all mean? Now more than ever, sales & marketing have to be in lock-step alignment at every stage of the buying process – because the buyer has so many options for how to engage with your company – and it’s critical the experience is consistent.

What has been your experience with changing buying processes?

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