Bridging the marketing-sales disconnect: tools and thinking maketh the marketer of today

Changing the way marketing is approached in key to tightening marketing and sales relationships

One of the last things a brand would want to see is an existing customer choosing to go with another competitor for a service that they already provide.

While this might due to the customer being unaware of the offering, it still proves to be a nightmare scenario for Mark Roberts, chief marketing officer, ShoreTel, a unified communications company.

“Finding people who want to move to cloud is an interesting problem, it really is two-fold. First there is so much opportunity out there, so many people want to move that you can be imprecise with your marketing efforts, provided you are known for that, then it becomes an awareness or a brand conversation because people want to move anyway,” Roberts told The Drum.

“The second point is, when you got a 500-person company moving into cloud, most came off something, there aren’t any new 500-people companies. So they came from a previous vendor. We have tens of thousands of customers on a global basis and some of our customers may be moving to cloud and we don’t know that,” he added.

Thus the brand had to change the “cultural way that we think about how we market and reach out to somebody,” according to Roberts.

“For example I am very keen on intent data, where the concept and idea of the company as an entity is out there trying to discover what’s happening, being able to find that data and information how they’re are discovering what’s happening is a very useful thing to a marketer,” said Roberts.

“This shifts the thinking of how you approach them and where you would go. There’s a lot to do with trust of information in today’s world, more than ever. In today’s world we are trying to work out what’s real and not real. So where you are going to place your concept, place your message as a company and the trust that’s inferred by that location is very very important. So you mix that with how a company is discovering what it wants to do, where it wants to go, what it wants to buy, what it wants to invest in, and the location of data. The technology exists, but the problem is how are you going to think about it internally as an organisation to take advantage of those tools,” he added.

Using these tools and way of thinking and going through the customer base will help ensure that these customers move to cloud on ShoreTel, rather than someone else. Some have found LinkedIn as a good social listening tool as well.

“What we found is that the buying group that invested in a business communications solution, may not be the same group that decides if you’re going to cloud. So you got two different sales motions, but as a company it’s very very important to maintain that customer with the two groups,” said Roberts.

“That technology brings us back to how do we think as marketers to saturate that account and connect that two parts of the organisation together,” he added.

This has led to time spent thinking about search and retargeting, according to Roberts.

“How do we make sure when people are searching and landing on websites, we have a high association with a trustworthy website, but also making sure we are retargeting individuals that are specifically existing customers,” said Roberts.

“That’s a different strategy to finding a new customer who wants to buy an on-site solution. For example, in Singapore where we don’t yet have a cloud offering, the thinking and approach is different, now you’re looking for the larger accounts or accounts in a sweet spot where it is a very different proposition. This is all about how we are using the technology and thinking about how we approach it as a marketing organisation so you have the right message for the right customer at the right time, again building trust based on where you place your content,” he added.

Bridging the marketing-sales disconnect

Part of changing this way of thinking is bridging the disconnect between marketing and sales. While marketing has undergone changes from a ‘Mad Men,’ image to one buried in spreadsheets, sales has remained part of an emotive connection.

“Being able to put those two worlds together is not an easy thing, but what we found that really helps is using some of these tools. For example, every Monday morning, I provide a series of reports to our sales teams about large companies in our profile searching on particular things or have interest in social items in a particular fashion, we have a scoring mechanism to do this,” said Roberts.

They get the report, they have a pipeline anyway, there are things they know that are going on in the market. We provide them that pipeline of activity in the digital world, and they take those two things and map them over each other, it allows them to reorganise their week. What that’s done is made the relationship so much tighter,” he added.

Providing valuable information to help sales make decisions on what to do during the week has changed the relationship between marketing and sales noted Roberts.

“Typically sales and marketing relationship is like this; give me some leads says sales, ok, here’s some leads, says marketing. I need more they say, you then reduce the quality but you make sure you provide more. They then say the leads aren’t any good, you then increase the quality but now there’s fewer leads, that cycle then continues and continues,” said Roberts.

“To break that, you need to have a common aligned goal objective. This combination of information to work on during the week has changed the sales and marketing relationship,” he added.

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