Hugh MacFarlane, originator of ‘The Buyer’s Journey,’ author of The Leaky Funnel, and Founder and CEO of Align.Me, joins me on this episode.
Hugh says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is wanting to tell their story before the customer is ready to hear it, instead of hearing the buyer’s story, and letting that direct what to say to them. What’s the buyer’s idea?
A rep must know what the customer already thinks. In the past, the rep was the source of knowledge. Today, the customer knows more about the product use case than the rep does. Marketing can supply the rep with info on the buyer.
Sales and Marketing alignment is building a process together that both departments know, in which they both do their part. It does not require cross-training, but training specific to the role.
Hugh compares alignment to a relay race. Reps don’t need to know how to write copy. They need to know prospects have been reading blogs and downloading white papers.
Turf wars come from job insecurity over new technologies and processes. Working together serves the customer better. Hugh talks about the evolution of the process being an important factor in sales success.
Hugh details the firmographics of two studies his firm did on Sales and Marketing alignment.
Hugh was surprised by the results from the optimization of an aligned process. Sales reps are more likely to accept a marketing lead. Hugh notes the short life of a lead. Self-declared interest needs to be addressed the same day.
When sales accepts more leads that will close, then both sales and marketing benefit from the improved results. A single, optimized process designed by both marketing and sales brings this result.
Building a robust sales and marketing aligned process, and training both the marketers and reps, correlates with rises in acceptance, and closure, of late-stage opportunities.
The data was not available on the quality of training in marketing and sales. The studies raised questions to explore. Some training appears to be an improvement over no training.
Andy recently read an article comparing gender differences in sales, but there was little usable data. All reports have biases. Hugh’s research was looking for big differentiators. Alignment is the biggest they found.
Organizations working for alignment adjust the process together. The driver for alignment in companies is when marketing and sales are not working together, and it shows. There are many voices making the case for alignment.