I’m a firm believer that a data-driven B2B marketing organization (more quantitative) and a sales organization focused on strategic selling and relationship building (more qualitative skills) is a lethal combination for the right business. If everyone buys in and agrees on the approach.
We’ve all met that salesperson: “Look, I don’t care what your ‘analytics’ say, I know how to sell and it doesn’t happen in a database or a technology platform.” In fact, being a salesperson myself, I’m that guy more often than not. The truth is, qualitative traits in a salesperson are key to closing deals in a lot of cases. That said, putting that salesperson in front of a prospect who’s willing to listen or has even raised their hand, so they can do their thing, is how a data-driven approach succeeds.
For a B2B marketer who gets measured on providing leads to a sales team, getting the sales team’s buy-in to a data-driven approach is critical. Otherwise, the sales team will continue to operate how they always have because they are measured against quotas that don’t change just because the marketing organization invested in technology or a new approach.
So, how do you get that buy-in? Every organization is different, but these two points apply to most businesses with a large reliance on field sales people to ultimately close deals.
First, don’t over-emphasize how high-tech and futuristic your data-driven approach is. It’s complicated, we get it, you marketers are really smart people – and the sales team doesn’t need to understand the technology or the analytical complexity. At the same time acknowledge there are aspects of the sales job that analysts and technologists couldn’t manage. There has to be a mutual respect for one another or you will continue to operate independently.
Do emphasize the program’s value to the salesperson – there are two fundamental things that matter to most field salespeople:
- This one’s obvious: Closing deals. Getting that “yes.” Not much explanation here – salespeople are competitive, this is the definition of winning.
- This one isn’t as obvious: Minimizing unnecessary travel. For the past 10 years, I’ve been a traveling sales guy. Anyone who’s traveled knows that stereotypical sales traveler – Swiss Army backpack, carry-on roller-board-only regardless of the length of the trip, and a sportcoat over a T-shirt because it wouldn’t fit in said roller-board. Being home for even one extra day that you weren’t planning on is precious. Nothing is worse than going on a sales call where you thought there was an opportunity only to spend two days in airports, rental car waiting lines and hotels to realize it wasn’t such a great opportunity afterall. Data-driven marketing can help score the opportunity and target those closer to home – a huge advantage!
Incorporating a data-driven approach to B2B marketing and lead gen can impact the sales team’s success rate, and their lifestyle. Here’s the key, though: Make sure to communicate how many Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) from your data-driven approach ended up maximizing one or minimizing two. This is the way to really bring home the value of your data-driven approach in terms that matter to most sales organizations. This will go a long way toward getting that buy-in.