Do you know marketing executives who are proud to have content ready for every stage of their sales team’s sales funnel? If their salespeople have B2B leads set at 30% in their CRM, the marketing team sends them collateral custom made for leads at 30%.
Does that make any sense to you, or to your potential customers?
Let’s say that based on your sales experience you’ve created a standard so every prospect who’s gotten past the initial sales phone call and booked an in-person introductory meeting with your sales-person is set to 30%.
This can be useful to measure your salespeople’s activity. But what does that mean to the customer? How far along are they to understanding the difference your offerings can make to their business? How far along are they to sorting out the problems that stand in the way of becoming your customer?
The exception to this is if your offering is extremely well understood by the prospect, and buying it is easy. A lot of B2C products are like this. By the time the prospect is on the Amazon search page for a given book, there’s a reliable likelihood of making the sale. You show them reviews of others who enjoyed the book, and offer free shipping, and “click”, you got a new customer. If you’ve managed to get your B2B offering to that level of sales simplicity, let me know. That deserves a feature article, a video even.
But for most B2B sales, especially for the more complex B2B technology sales, it’s not that straightforward. Two B2B leads at the same 30% level in your sales funnel could be extremely different in their willingness and ability to close the deal. One might be a fully BANT-qualified executive who’s just window shopping and the other could be a more junior employee who has an exceptional knack for navigating his organization’s buying bureaucracy and can push a deal through quickly as long as he’s sure the product does what you say it will.
If your sales team is trying to use the same collateral to get both leads past the 30% stage, how successful can you be? Your salespeople need different tools to deal with different leads even if the leads are in the same stage of your sales funnel.
You can start by helping your marketing team realize this. It’s possible that for years you’ve described your need for collateral in terms of your sales funnel stages. In that case, marketing is just giving you what you asked for, even if it’s not what the customer needs. Start describing what you need in terms of the lead’s readiness to buy and a good marketing team will start giving you the tools you need to help the lead see a clear path to becoming your customer.
Help the marketing team (and the sales engineers, and the product managers, and everyone else involved in supporting the sale) understand the customer’s buying process so they can help you close more deals.
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