Looking at the changing customer journey, a change in sales behavior has become business critical. A growing number of companies acknowledge that traditional sales requires a needed upgrade to include social selling. Through social selling, organizations enable sales teams to adopt a social presence that helps them influence the customer as early as possible in the buying process.
That is why the role of marketing must change as well. And a close relationship between marketing and sales is also required. How can marketing and sales operate as one team and help the company succeed in this new environment? Often marketing will manage customer insights and will create customer journeys, buyer personas and relevant content, all with the ultimate goal of creating greater customer success. Let’s look into how marketing works towards this goal:
- Marketing teams increasingly have direct access to or will work with data analysts within the company to understand customer buying patterns and successes. We can analyze digital footprints and compare customer purchasing behavior with company information. This abundance of data provides us with great insights as to what type of customers buy from us today and are likely to buy in the future. The benefit of these insights is that it allows marketers to create very targeted and tailored messages towards customer-specific needs and challenges. This happens to be exactly what customers are asking for. They expect to receive a message that adds value. In fact, they choose vendors that provide the most insights during the customer journey. The sales person who teaches something new or challenges the customer will end on top.
- Buyer personas. These include influencers and buyers: people who ultimately buy from you. It’s important to find out who they are, what job titles they have and how these people go about purchasing. Research shows that the usual suspects, such as IT or network buyers, may have been your primary and only contacts for a long time. Research also shows that it’s necessary to connect with other people, as these new contacts may also influence the decision-making process. Think of key contacts in HR, Operations, Data Center, Facilities and more. Marketing supports the identification of new contacts and creates the right marketing and sales messages to send to these different audiences. Social platforms, specifically Social Listening, allow us to investigate these new lines of business, which helps marketing to create better targeted content. These new insights and associated content are subsequently shared with sales to support them engaging with their customers and prospects.
- Creating a compelling customer journey based on customer success. Research shows that on average, two-thirds of the customer journey happens online, that it happens on various social media platforms and that it includes several digital experiences. A digital customer moves between various online and offline experiences and often develops his expertise and knowledge without the involvement of a sales person. It’s marketing’s role to identify what the best customer journey looks like and on which preferred platforms the customer moves from an online to an offline environment. A logical customer journey moves from ‘awareness’ to ‘purchasing’ and eventually ‘loyalty’. It’s up to marketing to investigate how to optimize the customer experience and how to move the customer forward in his investigation process. Marketing will advise sales how, when and where to best connect with customers. Instead of disrupting their daily lives, we meet the customer where and when it’s most convenient for them by adding value through sharing relevant content.
- Content. One of the most important jobs of marketing today is to create compelling content; content that allows sales teams to position themselves as an authority and to attract potential buyers. Such content is intended to excite, inform, educate and inspire audiences to take the next step in the buyer journey. Content creation must be based on having a clear content strategy, carefully mapping out the various content needs for different customer types and buyer personas, adding relevance to each step of the buyer journey. This includes creating a content calendar on which different types of content (infographics, customer case studies, white papers, etc.) are shared via different channels to create a compelling and consistent content flow to a given target audience. In this phase it’s important to track the use of individual assets and ask sales for feedback on how well the content is received by their audiences. This helps to constantly improve the quality of the content and update/edit where needed. Marketing often invests in a content platform which allows easy access to the content. It allows both sales and other company employees to share content with their respective audiences via social channels while expanding company reach. Marketing often advises on the best ratio for sharing company-branded, non-branded and personal content. The right mix increases relevance.
Access to data and insights allows marketing to become more knowledgeable on customers and prospects than ever before. This knowledge allows marketing to create more compelling and targeted content, using clever tools and platforms to distribute that content. As such, marketing is becoming a trusted advisor to sales colleagues by providing them with valuable insights that help reach the right customers at the right moment with the right content to help increase company success!
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