This article was originally published on behalf of the Detroit Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program for the Sterling Heghts Regional Chamber of Commerce.
As a business owner, solopreneur, sales or marketing executive, having a well-thought-out and integrated marketing and sales strategy is extremely important to achieve and exceed your targeted revenue goals.
Oftentimes, the marketing and sales functions are “mashed up” into a single effort that increases expenses, lost customer opportunities and results in lower revenue. Worse yet, the marketing function is nonexistent and increases the sales cycle.
There are five incredibly simple and powerful strategies that will transform your revenue generating opportunities and help you achieve your revenue target.
1. Make the investment. Marketing can be a daunting challenge. And, the landscape seems to evolve daily with new digital and social media platforms. If that’s not enough, there are the issues of what to say, how to say it, where to say it, and who should hear it. Marketing is and should be viewed as a critical investment for the financial success of your business. Yet, many business owners and executives view marketing as an expense rather than an important component of a solid sales strategy. Marketing is not optional. It’s imperative.
2. Understand the difference. While marketing and sales is usually used interchangeably, each function has a unique and important role that contribute to producing revenue for your business. Marketing generates and nurtures leads for your sales efforts to convert purchase-ready and qualified leads into customers.
3. Align marketing and sales.If you are a small business owner or a solopreneur, then you may perform both the sales and marketing functions. It is important that these functions are performed separately as they contribute differently to your revenue generation endeavors and can yield immeasurable benefits for your company. If your company has both sales and marketing teams, collaboration and integration are imperative. Without alignment and collaboration, your bottom-line can be adversely impacted.
Why is sales and marketing alignment important to achieving higher revenue? Simply put, harmony and coordination between these equally important functions will lower your costs and increase your revenue. Here are several alignment benefits. According to a 2015 Act-On Sales and Marketing Alignment Survey, 56 percent of aligned organizations met their revenue goals, and 19 percent beat their goals.In comparison with misaligned organizations, just 37 percent met their revenue goals, and just 7 percent beat them.
The Act-On study also found that sales and marketing alignment delivers, on average, a 36 percent improvement in customer retention and 38 percent higher sales-win rates — and it accomplishes this feat by improving only half of the end-to-end customer lifecycle.
Your marketing and sales funnels should be jointly created. Employing a six- phase funnel approach, the marketing team owns the first three phases, including prospect attraction, lead generation and lead cultivation.
Once the lead achieves qualified status, a transition or handoff occurs to the sales team that is then responsible for lead conversion, proposal development, negotiation and finally closing the sale.
Following the sale, both teams should work together to cultivate loyal customers and brand ambassadors.
4. Segment your marketing efforts. Oftentimes, a one-size-fits-all marketing approach is used. This approach diminishes your ability to effectively attract, engage and cultivate prospective customers for your products or services. In fact, the one-size-fits-all approach actually trains your sales targets to ignore your communications as they are not relevant and do not resonate with your prospective customers. By segmenting your marketing communications, your messages are more attractive and will increase your visibility and credibility with your target customers.
5. Optimize your Brand. Taking the required time to proactively and consistently manage your company’s brand provides unmatched opportunities to increase your market share, attract purchase-ready customers, retain your top customers and achieve your revenue target. A strong business brand is vital to the long-term profitability of your business and enables your customers and prospects to more quickly understand why your products or services will fulfill their needs and why they must make the effort to move to a buying decision.
Both sales and marketing are two very different, yet equally important functions that must be aligned for your company’s long-term success. Aligning your sales and marketing strategies can yield tremendous financial opportunities, including achieving and likely beating your revenue goals.
With alignment, your actual marketing and sales expenses will be reduced as collaboration significantly enhances productivity and profitability. For companies, create a culture that rewards of respect, collaboration and accountability because what gets rewarded gets done. For solopreneurs, work with an accountability partner.
Always, use a dashboard that equally sets goals and evaluates both the marketing and sales teams, individually and collectively to monitor progress. Good luck!