Over the last few years, we have seen a consistent trend of customers engaging with the seller much further down the sales funnel, which in effect is dramatically reducing pipeline visibility. Some studies show over 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before engagement occurs, thus signalling a significant paradigm shift. At the point that engagement occurs, customers are highly informed on product and service offering (and pricing) meaning the seller is often highly challenged to then differentiate against competitors and influence the sales outcome.
This shift has established an imperative for sales driven organisations such as building suppliers, medical device businesses or companies with high-value capital sales to enrich the sales process via relevant contextual data that will further empower their sales teams.
Research also shows the better alignment between sales and marketing drives greater sales effectiveness. The diagram below demonstrates best in class effectiveness versus other organisations in this area.
According to the Aberdeen Group: “Organizations that align marketing and sales are also able to further build on the efficacy of the marketing/sales customer acquisition system. That means for organisations seeking to pursue the compounding, low risk, high-reward advantages of shortening sales cycles they will subvert the loss of competitive advantage by clawing back parts of the funnel.”
To achieve this alignment, both marketing and sales capabilities must be cultivated and refined. Thus the result of aligning sales and marketing is enhanced pipeline visibility which occurs due to enriched tactical information.
It is easy to say that if we align marketing and sales, this will deliver greater pipeline visibility, enhanced customer intelligence and thus increased sales, although as we know, there is rarely a silver bullet in business. Companies that are successfully achieving reverse funnel integration are utilising best in class customer-facing technology stacks that work in unison to deliver enhanced customer experiences (CX). CX may be a buzzword, but simply put, it’s first about identifying parts or your customer journey that are losing revenue and then optimising them for either profit centres or loss mitigation.
There have been recent rapid developments within this customer experience space including SAP’s announcement of C/4 HANA, their enterprise CX solution for enterprise. These developments have allowed companies to take ownership of their front end stacks and develop compelling solutions that give them direct and transparent access to their customers.
Marketing Automation, although relatively new, has now become a basic requirement for companies to stay relevant in the new competitive landscape. Deployment of automation extends the capacity of marketing teams by more than ten-fold. In fact, with the right deployment, it becomes hard to cap the benefits of a successfully integrated marketing automation solution.
In addition to increased capacity, Marketing Automation delivers unique customer insights so detailed that a comparable scenario would be the relationship we see of a high street vendor and their day to day customers. In essence, many of the challenges of the modern-day enterprise are around devising strategies with which to connect with customers at the coal face, so that enhanced customer service and bespoke solutions can be delivered to each customer. This inevitably leads to increased revenue and profit.
Once we have an enhanced marketing function, which increases pipeline width and velocity, we must channel prospect insights to sales personnel allowing for better conversion. For example, a competent automation platform will provide functionality such as white space analysis WSA. WSA is an advanced machine learning tool that compares the spend of customers with other lookalike customers and identifies gaps or sales opportunities. This information is then presented to the sales personnel via CRM during a sales engagement. In addition to advanced metrics such as WSA the sales person also has access to data that signals engagement and sentiment.
This data-driven sales approach has proven to be so effective, we anticipate that in the coming year’s companies that fail to adopt new technologies that unify the customer experience such as CRM and Marketing Automation may face decline or even more alarmingly, obsolescence.
We believe that to achieve the objective of earlier engagement in the sales cycle and aligning sales and marketing , the responsibility must lie equally with both marketing and sales teams. We believe that sales people should leverage integrated marketing automation and CRM tools to drive their engagement further up the sales funnel. The tools allow for true data-driven sales to should be in the hands of salespeople themselves.
If you would like to chat about how we can help you increase revenue through data-driven sales, please get in touch.