Why mid-sized businesses can no longer afford traditional marketing

| June 29, 2017

Every under-performing sales rep and every disconnected marketing campaign costs you money. Peter Strohkorb international business consultant, author and professional speaker explains how you can do it better.

Let me start with an important statement:
“Under-performing Sales and Marketing departments severely inhibit the success of your business.”

Why am I making this point? Because we are living in a new sales and marketing paradigm that businesses need to adjust to in order to remain competitive:

The digital economy and the buying journey have revolutionised the way that people and organisations now buy. In fact, each high-value sale is now hard-fought and won, based on the value that the vendor offers and how well they are able to articulate that value to their buyer BEFORE they contact the vendor organisation.

The majority of a buyer’s decision-making process now takes place in the online domain, well BEFORE they even contact a sales rep. And which department usually manages a company’s website and online content? Right, it’s your friendly marketing department.

Now, when the buyer has decided which vendor to contact, they expect the same experience that they had on the vendor’s website to continue into the offline domain, i.e. when they speak to a sales rep. In other words, they have a natural expectation as they move from online to offline engagement that their buying experience continues to be pleasant, helpful and consistent.

This expectation makes it critical for any sales organisation to have their sales and marketing functions tightly aligned and collaborating more closely now than ever before. We have a name for this alignment. We call it Smarketing®.

Smarketing® is the ideal vehicle to align customer-facing business processes and value messaging to enhance the customer experience all along the buying journey and to lead the buyer to purchasing from us, rather than from our competitors.
Put simply: To have Smarketing® in place is now a strategic advantage.

What about the myriad of business apps and tools that are available? Have they diminished in importance? In my view, the successful deployment of popular sales support tools, such as training, collateral, thought leadership material, power messaging, mobile, CRM and sales and marketing automation technology still remain relevant. However, they can only ever be as effective as the collaborative goodwill of the people who are utilising these resources. It is for this reason that one of my key sayings is this:
“You can have the latest technology and the most sophisticated business processes, but if your people are not with you then it will all come to nothing.”

Therefore, symbiotic Sales and Marketing Collaboration at all levels, from the CEO down to the most remote sales rep, needs to become more than a ‘would be nice to have’: It needs to become a top priority for organisations of all sizes, but particularly of mid-sized businesses.

The more mature organisations have already discovered that there is much more to marketing than organising events and the generation of top-of-the-funnel sales leads. These mature organisations understand the importance of a united front. From the customers’ perspective Sales and Marketing have become indistinguishable from each other. These two traditionally separated functions have developed what I call ‘A Collaboration Mindset’.

Such a mindset – to deserve the name – must be pervasive. Most importantly, it must unfailingly deliver the kind of personalised and nuanced customer experience that organisations have been talking about for years, but rarely have delivered. Such organisations live and breathe Smarketing®.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of effective Sales and Marketing Collaboration for organisations that want to cater to the needs and expectations of today’s super-informed and hyper-connected customers.

How can organisations move up the collaboration maturity spectrum and create a superior customer experience that delivers high growth, strong staff engagement and consistent sales results? Here is how managers and senior executives can take the steps necessary to achieve Smarketing® success:

1. Assess the quality of collaboration between your Sales and Marketing people. Find out where the bottlenecks are and where the ‘low hanging fruit’ opportunities lie. This is best done with the help of an external, independent and neutral 3rd party so that it is not influenced by pre-existing conditions and office politics that may hinder true, frank and honest feedback from all stakeholders.

2. Coach your people, from the executive team downwards, on why closer collaboration is good for them. Then help them to agree on the collaboration processes and the metrics that they will from now on live by. Answer questions such as “What’s in it for me?” and “What does success look like for me personally, for my department, and for the whole organisation?”
Make sure that there is consensus and shared buy-in on the above.

3. Support the collaborative processes with appropriate technology. Don’t be tempted to rush this step. It is important to leave this until the teams have agreed on why and how they will work together, because an IT-led approach will often encounter resistance, passive or otherwise.

Provide ongoing coaching so that inter-team collaboration can grow beyond your head office and so that it can be sustainable, even when your personnel move on, or external circumstances change.

Every under-performing sales rep and every disconnected marketing campaign costs you money. So, mid-sized businesses can no longer afford to have under-collaborative sales and marketing. Smarketing® has now become a strategic advantage to help grow sales, heighten the customer experience, and to lift employee engagement.

Begin your own Smarketing® journey now and make it a priority in your organisation for FY2017/18.

Peter Strohkorb
Peter Strohkorb is an international business consultant, published author and professional speaker. He is also a popular Executive MBA Guest Lecturer at the prestigious Sydney Business School.

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