Educating your salespeople about the new B2B sales cycle

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Best Practices  |  Business to Business

I spent most of my career in B2B marketing, although for four years I was in B2B sales. So I've seen both sides.

Back in the mid 1990's it was hard to find evidence of love between marketing and sales. At many business-to-business companies the relationship was downright adversarial. Often, the tension extends all the way up to senior management.

It all stemmed from the sales process involving a "handoff." Marketing generated leads, handed them over to sales and then the sales team owned them until close.

Like a marriage gone bad, the circa 1994 dialog was an endless tape loop.

Sales says, “Get me some good leads! These leads stink! My people can’t sell.” And Marketing responds: “You got good leads! Your guys just stink at closing!” Having been in the middle of these “discussions” at several companies, I’ve heard it time and time again.

That's so 1994

We're in a world now where sales and marketing coexist throughout the entire sales process. Buyers are evaluating your offerings throughout the sales process based on what the salesperson does and says AND what they see and do on the site and in social media.

Savvy marketing and sales professionals understand that sales and marketing must work together to move prospects through the sales cycle. This is especially important in the complex sale with long decision making cycles and multiple buyers that must be influenced. The good news is that Web content can drive people through and even shorten the complex sales cycle.

Smart marketers need to educate the salespeople so they understand that we're in this together. We are no longer in a world where marketing hands off to sales. Marketing needs to create content for each step in the process. And sales, if they are active in social media, can drive people into the top of the funnel.

And you've got to make sure sales knows it's not about "leads" as the primary measurement. Explain that squeeze pages just don't work in an environment where Google delivers the best content. Free content is what drives action today.

The most successful B2B companies are those where salespeople and marketers work together to move people through the sales process.

Is that happening at your company?

Raw funnel images Shutterstock / John T Takai