Marketing Success: When Buyers Self-Select

I enjoyed speaking on the Focus Roundtable a few weeks ago  on the topic of sales and marketing alignment, along with Dan McDade of PointClear, Tim Sullivan of Sales Performance International, and Karen Hayward of Centerbeam. You can listen to the recording of the event here.

On the panel, we all agreed that Sales and Marketing are still struggling with alignment, even through the changes in the sales process in the last several years. I liked Tim’s point that the old adage, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something,” has now become: “Nothing happens until somebody thinks about buying something.”

Once buyers think about buying something, they do a lot of homework before they talk to a sales rep. Then, once the buyer does engage with Sales, the buyer is already well educated. So the job of the sales rep is less about features and functions, and more about the experience of the prospect and customer. And the onus is on Marketing, as Karen said in the session, to develop the programs that foster deeper conversations, which lead to that experience.

The need for teamwork between Sales and Marketing is clear. But before Web 2.0, we said that “Marketing sets them up and Sales knocks them down. “ That is still true to an extent. Today, Marketing gets buyers to “self-select”—frequently by serving up the right content throughout the Web.

Part of helping prospects self-select is helping them form an impression of the company: what it stands for and what it is good at–de-risking the company, if you will. In that sense, some of the time-honored measurements of marketing success, such as aided and unaided awareness, as well as reputation management, still apply.  It’s not just all about leads.

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