In my previous post “Think Your Marketing Doesn’t Need to Show ROI? Here’s Why You’re Wrong” I discussed the importance of revenue marketing which aims to drive revenue by using content and lead nurturing to answer the questions of key decision makers that are party to the buying journey. This way of marketing relies heavily on two things — deep knowledge of the customer and a keen understanding of the buying process.
A Tale of Two Marketers
Deep knowledge of the customer is the guiding principle behind customer segmentation and further, persona development (insights on personal development via The Buyer Persona Institute). The challenge that many marketers face is in understanding the buying process. Some of you may have come into Marketing through Sales and therefore, have intimate, first-hand knowledge of the journey the buyer takes to arrive at the purchase decision. Some of you, may have been born and raised in Marketing and as such do not have the luxury of first-hand knowledge. So if you’re in the latter group what are you to do? The answer is what I and many others consider to be the most important (first) step in revenue marketing — aligning with Sales.
Aligning Marketing & Sales: Like Any Good Relationship, Quality Time Is Key
“It’s so sad to see when two people who have so much in common – all the same interests, the same sense of humour, the same goals – never become a couple. The same heartbreak often occurs among sales and marketing teams.”
– Sylvia Jensen, How To Spark a Romance Between Sales and Marketing
In her recent blog post for Eloqua entitled 7 Ways Your Sales and Marketing Can Align, Sylvia Jensen lays out 7 key ingredients to Sales and Marketing alignment. The first ingredient she discussed is “ride-alongs”.
Yes marketers, in order to learn about the sales process and gain first hand knowledge about buyers, your best bet is to go on sales calls — and go on them often. I would argue that revenue marketers should spend at least 2 days a month with customers to validate buyer personas, tweak your knowledge of the revenue cycle and to form a strong partnership with sales. In this way you can begin to close the knowledge gap around the sales cycle.
To Take Your Relationship to The Next Level, Give More Than You Take
But it isn’t only about you is it? The other reason ride-alongs are great is to understand what tools the sales force needs. What information do they call upon when meeting with different buying decision makers? How useful do they find the tools already developed by Marketing? Are there significant gaps in these tools? This is invaluable information that can be gleaned simply by being present and participating. I can think of many examples of sales tools that I and my teams have developed over the years that originated from these activities.
Aside from filling gaps by developing content that answer the key questions of buyers during their decision making process, ride alongs also give Sales the opportunity to provide input into the creation of the tools they will eventually use. What’s great about this is that by including Sales early in the process, the resulting sales enablement tools will likely have greater utility and adoption.
At the end of the day, your tools are only good if they are useful. To make the most useful tools you have to spend time with the people that intend to use them. Granted, there is more to revenue marketing than alignment with Sales (as I have written in previous posts here) but, without it you will find your demand generation efforts dead in the water.