This decision-making period before a salesperson is involved is really the domain of the marketing department. The salesperson that does not understand this will close less, and the marketer that does not understand this can't do her job effectively.
Sales and marketing teams need to be aligned to drive the sales process and purchasing decision of a customer from start to finish.
At a very broad level, there are two distinct phases in the sales process.
1. The initial phase where marketing attracts, qualifies and nurtures a lead to build trust.
2. The final phase where the salesperson receives the lead, fully qualifies the lead, grows the relationship, allows the prospect to open up while reinforcing trust, and finally closes the lead.
Of course, there is a very important post-sale phase where account teams need to make sure client retention is the focus. Client acquisition is one of the largest costs of any company, so great client retention is a surefire way to increase profits.
By the time a prospect is ready to talk to the sales team, they have been warmed up and are ready for a deeper discussion about your product. Now marketing understands that all leads go through a lifecycle of sorts. Simply this lifecycle looks like this:
Awareness > Consideration > Decision
Read our article on the difference between leads and qualified leads to dive deeper into this lifecycle.
Awareness and consideration are marketing's responsibility. By creating and promoting content that is geared to either the awareness and consideration stages, means the prospect can be warmed up. This content can be in the form of blog posts, video, ebooks, whitepapers, and more. The content is commonly distributed via the company website, marketing automation and email communication.
At the point the prospect is ready to talk to the sales team, they are primed for a deeper discussion about the product or service.
This readiness leads to more in-depth discussions which allow the salesperson to build stronger relationships and close faster.
A meeting with a prospect that has been warmed up by marketing is a meeting that is worth preparing for. Marketing has shared with the salesperson that the prospect has been to the website a number of times and opened a number of emails over the last few months, so she knows the prospect has a high likelihood of closing. She prepares thoroughly and asks marketing to build a presentation that addresses the prospect's needs. She now rather sees one client a day and makes that sales call high impact. This is an entirely different scenario to the salesperson that makes 50 cold calls to set a handful of sales meetings with close to no preparation.
Sales and marketing teams need to work together to achieve success. The best way to increase company revenue is to recognise the needs of the modern buyer. He needs attention from both marketing and sales.
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