Study reveals how sales and marketing need better collaboration in the digital age
A recent study by CRM specialist company Maximizer Software has revealed that the most effective way for companies to make the most out of their marketing efforts in today’s digital age requires that the sales and marketing teams work more closely together to nurture leads through online activity, followed by feeding the resulting business intelligence into their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to close more deals.
Some of the key facts revealed by the study include:
- 93% of business buyers search online to begin with and 90% contact suppliers directly when ready to buy
- The average B2B lead costs $264 (R2750) to generate yet only 27% are qualified
- Nurtured leads produce an average of 20% more sales opportunities than non-nurtured ones
- Companies using lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost
- Only 19% of B2B companies said telephone marketing is a top lead source; 28% said print and broadcast advertising is
- Companies using marketing automation see 70% faster sales cycles and a 50% improvement in quota achievement
- 58% of B2B companies said business social media is a top lead source; a similar proportion said the same about online advertising.
The report on the study: Why Sales and Marketing should be friends, looks at how the balance between business-to-business (B2B) vendors and their customers has shifted dramatically as the internet has empowered buyers with the ability to research decisions long before they start talking to sales people. It is also reported how this development has had a huge impact on lead generation, making it a major issue for businesses today – particularly those selling to other businesses.
The study drew on numerous independent sources to look at the challenges B2B marketers and sales teams face and noted that a disconnect between marketing and sales departments at many companies contributes to a lack of adequate lead scoring, properly qualified leads and detailed intelligence on prospects or even existing customers.
The report also outlines how pioneering companies are linking their marketing and CRM platforms to enable the scoring of leads while using marketing automation to tap into social media and other forms of inbound marketing, whilst all the time capturing detailed customer intelligence for use by sales personnel. It highlights how producing content marketing that informs and engages consumers with useful and relatively neutral information early in the selling process is essential to making this coordinated approach work. Furthermore, it shows how employing technology that allows companies to feed data captured on the marketing database into the CRM system is vital to successfully converting leads.
Companies selling to ordinary consumers have typically been ahead of the curve when it comes to using websites, online advertising, email, social media and other digital media – producing content and advising customers. B2B companies, on the other hand, tend to struggle to use these ‘inbound’ media channels to effectively generate leads – particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on tight budgets.
The study demonstrated that companies that want to successfully nurture leads to capitalise on the resulting sales bounce need to institute lead-scoring systems, which enable them to effectively automate responses to leads as they move up the chain to become genuinely warm prospects. A further finding was that by using all the intelligence from both the marketing and sales databases enables companies to inform the targeting and personalisation of useful content that the prospective customer has already shown interest in – to create, in effect, a ‘deal refinery’. The end result of such a process is sales teams getting the qualified lead pipeline it needs and the marketing department seeing the return on investment that it
“Innovative B2B companies are finding ways to engage with customers more effectively and earlier in the process while overcoming the traditional blame game played between sales and marketing -‘the leads are lousy’ or ‘we can’t close these’ sorts of exchanges,” says Mike Richardson, Maximizer Software’s EMEA Managing Director. “With the marketing database feeding into the CRM system, sales teams are no longer flying blind and can make their own informed and tailored approaches to customers, ultimately closing more deals,” adds Richardson.