Is Your Web Strategy Too Important to Leave to Your Web Team
Your web strategy is an increasingly important part of your overall customer relationship and sales process. Yet many companies address their web strategy as just a visual, interactive medium with which to convey product and service messages. In effect, they treat it a little more than an online brochure.
Today 85% of B2B customers start their buyer’s journey on line and stay on line through the purchase process. Indeed, CXOs have over 65% of their interactions online (Sirius Decisions 11/12).
By 2020 Gartner predicts that over 80% of B2B purchases will be made without human interaction. Through most of this process, buyers are not looking for product features and functions, but information that will help them solve their business problems. It is only later in the buying process, once they have identified their problem and formed an approach to address it that they may be interested in a product or services to help with the solution. Companies that don’t help prospects with answers to their business problems often find that their sales people get in late in the sales cycle when the customer is focused on price, not value.
To manage their part in the buyer’s journey effectively, marketing and sales need to show a seamless front with a smooth transition from online to personal relationships. Marketing and Sales must start by having a clear understanding and agreement on the needs of target customers and the questions they need answered as part of the buying process. Many companies think of this as creating personas and mapping the buyer’s journey. Successful companies do this with a joint marketing and sales team.
Behind the smooth interface are integrated databases. Marketing can develop leads over the internet, but without sales integration, they can't tell where the leads are in the sales pipeline and which leads result in sales and which don't. Recent studies have found that over 70% of marketing qualified leads aren't useful to sales.
Marketing and Sales have separate, often unaligned agendas, which make it difficult or impossible for either function to maintain a core cross-functional process without focus, goal alignment, and common metrics. As Steve McKee puts it in the Nov-13, 2012 issue of Business Week, "The marketing-vs.-sales divide is as insidious as it is old. Sales professionals have historically dismissed marketers as lightweights who exist simply to make things look pretty; marketers tend to look down their noses at sales Neanderthals who wouldn’t recognize something tasteful if it hit them in the mouth. "
What is the answer? This is a crisis for the CMO that can’t be left just in the hands of the web team. There is both danger and opportunity. The danger is to do nothing different and be seen as irrelevant as the world moves toward web based data driven marketing. The CMO and CSO have to see the importance of an effective data driven process which links the marketing and sales pipelines into one process that captures customer value for the company. Marketing and Sales have to recognize that they will succeed or fail together.
We have seen successful companies do the following:
- Agree on shared goals and metrics. Frequently, the CMO shares a revenue goal with the CSO.
- Define common target sub-segments and personas.
- Develop common definitions of Marketing Qualified Leads, Sales Qualified Leads.
- Create service level agreements (SLAs) for the monthly volume and quality of Marketing Qualified Leads and sales response times for reviewing and accepting MQLs and taking the first action to reach out to the then SQLs.
- Establish regular review meetings that include C-Suite sponsorship and participation. For example, establishing regular meetings with sales operations to drive down the MQL to SQL backlog. One company started with a backlog of over 60% of their MQLs. Within three months of regular focused meetings, they were able to reduce this to less than 20%.
- Foster a culture of continuous experiment, analysis and improvement. For example, examine every lead that Sales uses, understand what worked and what didn’t. One successful CMO in a small technology business moved his desk to the middle of the telesales floor to glean information as it happened. He used the lessons about what did and didn’t work to improve the MQL criteria. The key is to set up a positive feedback loop between sales and the marketing to sales pipeline.
How well aligned are your company's sales and marketing organizations? Dowload our "Sales and Marketing Alignment Checklist."