Many sales leaders do not understand the advantage marketing can provide during a deal cycle. They tell the marketing team to stop sending communications to prospects that are in the pipeline. And they ignore the behavioral intelligence being gathered by marketing software during the sales process. But not using marketing as your wingman during big deals can be the critical mistake that gives an edge to your competitors. Below are four examples of where marketing can not only assist, but actually outperform sales during a deal cycle.
Let’s take a hypothetical example. Suppose you are selling recruiting software to the HR department. Consider the following four examples of how marketing could help increase your odds of winning the deal and increasing its potential value.
1) Finding Undiscovered Influencers
You focus on the Chief People Officer and his/her key lieutenants. But no one tells you that there are key influencers outside of HR as well. The VP of North America Sales and the VP of Engineering are both struggling to recruit top talent for the new “Internet of Things” business unit. Both have been very outspoken about the need to better leverage technology for recruiting. But the sales team, who is overwhelmed with selling to the 50 HR leaders around the world, fails to uncover these influencers. Not to worry, because marketing quickly finds these two stakeholders when they are doing their homework on recruiting software. The VP of Sales visits your website and downloads a few white papers. And the VP of Engineering listens to customer testimonial webinars. Your marketing automation software identifies these activities as significant and notifies the sales rep who reaches out to the two influencers to understand their views.
2) Finding Undiscovered Problems
The sales team interviews the key HR leaders at headquarters, each of whom tells you that the company’s needs are limited to recruiting. The other modules your company sells such as performance management, compensation, benefits and payroll are not identified as pain points. But marketing discovers that various middle level HR managers in Canada and the UK are researching performance management on Google (via Pay-Per-Click ads). In fact, an HR VP in the Northeastern US just downloaded an eBook on Maximizing the Benefits of Annual Performance Reviews. Perhaps, your $1M per year deal for recruiting software could be turned into a $2M per year deal which includes the performance management module as well.
3) Self-Educating Buyers
Decision makers prefer to self-educate on technology, often well in advance of when they will engage a vendor about a specific need. Your buyers were reading analyst reports, white papers, eBooks and listening to webinars, podcasts and videos months before they were talking to your sales organization. And they were reading how other customers reviewed your software on LinkedIn Groups, G2Crowd and TrustRadius throughout the sales cycle. Because these buyers read your content (instead of your competitors) they were predisposed to take your point of view on the key factors for selecting HR software. As a result, you enjoy an advantage over the competition in the deal.
4) Nurturing Key Stakeholders
At the beginning of the sales cycle your team sent an email with a few key case studies, white papers and research studies. However, they never followed up to see if anyone opened the email, clicked on the links or actually read the materials. The sales team checked off the action item as complete and moved on. But the lead nurturing module of the marketing automation software tracked all of the behavior. Because this account was listed as an active prospect, users were sent a weekly email with new suggested content to read based upon past behavior. As a result, marketing generated 512 more points of engagement than would have otherwise occurred. And 65% of the Top 20 decision makers were on your website at least once per week.