The buyer’s journey for mid-market and enterprise technology has changed drastically in recent years.
As recently as ten years ago, cold calling, direct mail, rented email lists, and elaborate trade show booths were all essential parts of the playbook for data center sales directors.
Today, it’s a completely different buyer’s journey – a totally different ball game, if you like baseball analogies.
Show Up During the First 70% of the Decision-Making Process
As a result, we're seeing many more data center sales directors wanting a say in the company's content strategy -- now that 60% to 90% of the buyer's journey happens before most prospects are ready to speak with sales.
This represents an enormous, once-in-a-generation kind of change. A decade ago, sales controlled almost all of the sales cycle.
Today it’s the opposite scenario – a scary prospect for sales professionals, who now realize that marketing’s ability to generate and nature leads can have a very tangible and profound impact on their paychecks.
Align Sales and Marketing as If Your Career Depended on It (Hint: It Does!)
So the need for sales and marketing to work together, sometimes called sales and marketing alignment (“smarketing”), is becoming a much bigger deal to stay competitive.
When marketing can have such an outsized impact on sales paychecks, the model is changing drastically, with many mid-market org charts being redrawn for revenue-focused VP Sales/Marketing roles.
Just over the past few weeks, we’ve noted that a marketing manager for a colocation provider in North Carolina was promoted to director of sales and marketing – while within days later, a senior account executive for a colocation provider in Nevada was promoted to director of sales and marketing.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as we very often see marketing managers in the data center industry whose responsibilities only tangentially involve revenue generation.
Fix the Gaps That Hurt Your Sales Team's Performance
If you’re anything like the data center sales directors we’ve been speaking with recently, many of your sales reps are at their absolute wits’ end over just how backward-ass their marketing approach is relative to their more content-savvy competition.
- Websites run without content management systems (CMSs) where every update requires manual intervention from an IT manager.
- No buyer personas – Who are we actually selling to again? And why would they care? How could we possibly create helpful, educational content if we don’t know what drives them?!?
- No blogs – …because we know everyone wants to read our spec sheets and self-promotional press releases, right?
- Social media participation is very one-way, self-promotional, and not resonating
- Very few landing pages and conversion opportunities exist for hot leads to raise their hands
- Nearly all landing pages are for late-stage, decision-making prospects – the first two stages of the data center buyer’s journey, when your best prospects are researching problems and potential solutions, are woefully unrepresented
- No way for hot leads to get to sales reps fast enough as every lead is manually reviewed
- No lead segmentation, other than perhaps geographically for territories
- No lead scoring, so sales reps lump all leads together and eventually stop working on any leads that come from marketing
- No lead nurturing, so qualified leads often go untouched for weeks, even months
- No way for sales reps to be notified that a lead of theirs has revisited the website, opened an email, or clicked a link
- Legacy CRM systems don’t integrate with marketing tools, so there’s no way to pass lead intelligence information or analyze closed-loop marketing results
- Over-dependence on cold phone canvassing
Help Your Marketing Coordinator Reinvent Themselves to Benefit Your Sales Team
HP’s co-founder David Packard predicted this decades ago: “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
Marketing coordinators in colo data centers have an unprecedented opportunity to drive literally millions, if not tens of millions, in annual revenue if they can get on the ball fast enough with a sound content strategy and the right buy-in organization-wide.
The problem, however, is due to massive gaps in (a) talent, (b) technology, and (c) strategy; today’s data center funnel in most companies is severely underperforming as CEOs insist that their obsolete playbook can still be relevant today – despite massive disruption by search, social, mobile, and cloud.
How is your data center’s sales director ensuring that marketing doesn’t screw up their team’s paychecks? Is your company finally realizing that sales and marketing alignment is no longer a luxury and that the revenue team needs to run the show? Sound off in the comments below.
Better yet, email this article to your CEO and suggest that the three of us talk soon. (Many data center CEOs have no idea how much their sales funnels are being disrupted by shifts in buying behavior and more agile competitors.)