As businesses evolved from the mass-producing factories of the Industrial Age to the global, consumer-savvy forces they are today, so too have the techniques they’ve used to promote their products and services.
During the early half of the 20th century, companies believed it was necessary to show customers what they need but didn’t yet own – introducing us to the traveling encyclopedia sales rep cliche we’re all familiar with today.
But, as time continued and technology improved, consumers reacted less to hard sells and more to brands that seemed to understand their individual needs.
Eventually, marketing morphed into much of what we see today – data-driven analytics that create a narrow, personalized understanding of each customer to create targeted campaigns – while sales seemed to lag behind.
Consumers, including the clients of B2B products and services, want to build personal relationships with the brands they use. Despite being separate from marketing within an organization, sales teams have found great success using traditional marketing techniques to achieve the personal, long-lasting relationships that their clients want.
Data-driven sales process
Until recently, sales reps would reach out to prospects at the beginning of the sales process with the generic marketing materials handed out to all employees at an organization.
But, as SaaS subscription models became increasingly more popular, sales reps found that these tired concepts didn’t work when trying to establish relationships that would help retain clients year after year.
One trend that sales has successfully adopted from marketing is using data analytics to better understand the customer. Now, when a sales rep fires off a pitch to a prospect, the rep immediately receives data about their behavior – What was the open rate for a particular subject line? How many people moved to the next step after reading this email?
As prospects continue through the sales process, or as existing clients work with the company, the sales rep is able to gather more information about their behavior to create a true understanding of their needs. By analyzing the data, reps are able to understand what methods worked with their customers and know how to recreate this success in the future.
Customer relationship management in sales
Marketing teams learned early on that a strong relationship with a customer is key to their returning to the company’s products or services.
From this understanding sprang forth tactics like customer relationship management that allowed these kinds of relationships to grow. Marketing teams use the customer data they have to craft valuable offerings and targeted campaigns for their customers.
For sales, understanding the motivations and drives behind a potential lead’s actions through data analytics allows the sales rep to send similar targeted campaigns.
No more emails beginning with “To Whom It May Concern,” – now, sales reps are able to provide their prospects with enriching and useful information specific to any questions that they may have regarding the product or service.
Sales and marketing alignment
Although they still provide different functions for the company, marketing and sales stand to learn a great deal from each other as technology and consumer preferences continue to change.
With sales teams being called upon more often to close deals with recurring clients, it is more important than ever that they embrace customer relationship management and data analytics in order to provide the best customer experience possible.
The siloed business model is becoming increasingly ineffective, and this trend points to an emerging trend of overall sales and marketing alignment. Companies are finding that when a technique successfully works for one department or team, the actions can and should be adapted across the organization in order to reap similar rewards.
While sales and marketing are the first aspects of business to embrace this, we can expect to see this more as business models continue to innovate and change.
– by Chris Rothstein