Historically, sales and marketing teams at IaaS (infrastructure), SaaS (software), and FinTech (financial technology) companies haven’t always worked together very effectively.
Now more than ever, in a world where so many buyer's journeys are now self-service, digital buyer's journeys, sales and marketing alignment -- smarketing -- has gone from a nice-to-have to a must-have.
The drama has to stop, for good: Sales teams think of marketing professionals as doing glorified arts and crafts projects all day. And on the flip side, marketing professionals see sales professionals as overpaid, spoiled brats.
The latest industry research makes addressing this challenge even more pressing:
- Gartner found that 83% of a typical B2B purchase decision -- researching, comparing options, and evaluating pricing -- happens before a potential buyer engages with a vendor.
- McKinsey concluded that 70% to 80% of B2B decision-makers now prefer to make decisions digitally.
- In its B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report, LinkedIn, in partnership with Edelman, discovered that “thought leadership remains critical to customer engagement, but breaking through the noise is harder than ever.”
What is your company doing to ensure sales and marketing become a competitive weapon rather than a painful, embarrassing, cultural liability?
Consider these six smarketing strategies that are especially relevant to high-growth IaaS, SaaS, and fintech businesses:
1) Get C-level buy-in.
Digital transformation and sales/marketing alignment are inherently people- and cultural issues, just as much as content, process, and technology. As a result, getting support from the upper levels of your organization is critical.
2) Place marketing and sales on equal footing as peers.
Many companies make the mistake of placing marketing under sales in their org chart. This can be a huge, costly error as sales teams are inherently focused on getting deals closed this month. In contrast, marketing teams need to have a healthy balance between initiatives focused on this month and those campaigns that build the foundation for growth in the coming weeks, months, and years.
"Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago." (Warren Buffett)
3) Educate all stakeholders on dramatic shifts in buyer behavior.
Before the mainstream adoption of smartphones, social media, search, cloud computing, review sites, and personal assistants, buyers of infrastructure, software, and FinTech had conversations with sales teams early on as a valued source of information.
Today there's no reason for prospects to speak with sales teams early when all the information they want, need, and crave is just one search away.
When prospects are willing to engage in a sales conversation, at least 80% of their decision-making process is over.
As a result, marketing and sales must align aggressively to collaborate on game-changing content that earns a seat at the table during the first 80%+ of the buyer's journey.
And sales professionals must be prepared to up their game and present as trusted advisors in a consultative, doctor/patient relationship -- instead of just being seen as another vendor sales vendor. The Challenger Sale should be on everyone's must-read list. (think marketing/sales team book club).
4) Grow your personal LinkedIn presence as if your career survival depends on it.
If your IaaS, SaaS, or fintech company offers any product or service with a considered sales process, your marketing and sales teams need a cohesive strategy for leveraging all three facets of LinkedIn (a) publishing help content and engaging with others' helpful content, (b) LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and (c) LinkedIn Ads.
5) Collaborate on content creation.
To help sales professionals get out of the vendor box and be seen as subject matter experts, marketers should build a process to make it as easy as possible for sales professionals to have a role in content creation.
At the same time, relatively few sales professionals will want to invest several hours in something like blogging. Instead, try pairing up a writer from your marketing team with a sales rep for a recurring monthly coffee meeting or virtual coffee, where the sales rep is interviewed.
With the right mindset, in a 30-minute Zoom call, you can capture an amazing amount of content to produce as video, audio, and text content. This will power your email marketing, social media, and blogging for weeks and help your sales professionals be seen as subject matter experts.
6) Build target account lists for account-based marketing (ABM).
Marketers and sales professionals should build and maintain target account lists that can be tapped into for multiple purposes. Ad targeting, social monitoring, outbound sequences, and hyper-personalization -- especially with videos, can all have a game-changing impact on driving net new pipeline.
Are you part of a sales or marketing team in IaaS, SaaS, or FinTech? If so, what do you do to improve sales and marketing alignment (smarketing) and collaboration? Let me know in the comments section below.
And if you're serious about world-class alignment strategy for uniting sales and marketing at your IaaS, SaaS, or FinTech company, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.