In the B2B marketplace, competitive selling requirements are driven by demands for organizational speed, ready access to product information and a consultative selling approach throughout the buying process. Complex account-based relationships are common, as are products and services delivered as packaged or custom tailored ‘solutions.’ Both of these conditions dictate close alignment of an organization’s sales and marketing functions.
The relative contribution of each function will vary, to some degree, based on the unique nature of each sales situation. However, as a general rule, the mix of sales vs marketing inputs will follow a pattern similar to the percentages indicated in the table below:
Approximate Mix of Sales and Marketing Contributions
As you can see, the sales team typically plays a more prominent role in situations where an organization is trying to sell established products to existing customers, while marketing usually plays an increasingly important role in situations where the organization is promoting the sale of new products to new customers. Across the spectrum, although one function may be dominant, contributions from both sales and marketing are necessary to be successful throughout the product/customer life cycle, and the efforts of each function must be: A) aligned with the business’s overall strategy and B) tightly integrated to ensure a smooth, timely hand-off as opportunities progress through the sales pipeline.
Digital Sales and Marketing Platforms
Cloud-based digital sales and marketing tools can help. Unfortunately, most software solutions available today approach competitive selling requirements with a heavy bias toward one function or the other. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, for example, are often focused exclusively (or at least primarily) on the needs of the sales function, while marketing automation tools typically address the messaging and metrics-tracking requirements of the marketing team … with little thought given to the needs of the sales team. Neither is designed to help an organization establish a collaborative relationship between the sales function and the marketing function, thereby falling short of today’s competitive selling requirements.
The fast moving, dynamic nature of B2B selling requires a tightly integrated approach to sales and marketing that adapts to each unique situation and puts the sales team in control of the tools, information, content and collaboration capabilities it needs … in real time. The following table summarizes the essential B2B digital sales tools needed:
Essential B2B Digital Sales Tools