Welcome to our first edition of The Mailbag, where we will be answering real questions from our clients. In this issue, our VP, Director of Client Services, Tim Leesman, is taking on topics like staying up to date and aligning sales and marketing budgets.
Have a question you’d like covered? Tweet it to us @simantel.
Client: I’m a marketing manager and I love my team, but the pace of change (MarTech, data, SEO/SEM, etc.) is impossible for them (and me) to keep up with. Any tips on how we can stay up-to-date?
TL: Simply acknowledging this reality is a step in the right direction. Odds are your team is feeling anxious about everything they are suddenly expected to be experts on, with no real direction or support on how to accomplish and sustain this level of continuing education. Believe it or not, even some of the best marketing professionals are struggling to keep up with understanding and implementing new tools available to us. My advice is to keep it simple and try these things:
- Set clear direction on what your team is expected to know (and what they aren’t), and show them how you will provide support in gaining this knowledge on an ongoing basis.
- Find relevant outlets for content that will help support their continuing education. For example, look into educational sites like Lynda.com, register for industry webinars and subscribe to newsletters like Simantics that deliver emails when there is important, relevant information to know.
- Establish partnerships with marketing professionals that can support your team. This will also help your team develop effective strategies to utilize the latest and greatest tactics to drive results. This will not only deliver great marketing results for your team, but also allow them to continuing learning through practical application in their work.
Client: Today, so much of the customer education and sales process is happening online before our sales team even gets involved. How can I help the sales team understand these changes and the need to work closer together with my marketing team?
TL: This is a significant challenge across all types of business models (especially those traditionally transacted exclusively offline). A few universal truths that are important for the sales side of the house to understand:
- Increasing focus on “marketing” isn’t a decision to be made, it’s a reality.
- Consumers have taken control of the sales process by doing product research, comparing options, sourcing opinions, and in some cases, transacting when and where they want to. Customers are no longer required to work through a company’s desired path to purchase (e.g. talking directly to a salesperson at every touchpoint), so find ways to adapt to a sales funnel that is no longer linear.
- Many companies still view marketing and sales as the same thing, with resource and budget allocation to match. If your company isn’t increasing allocations in both of these areas, you’re working with one arm tied behind your back – and it will affect the bottom line. Advertising your product is a component of modern marketing, but if you’re not funding and supporting marketing efforts, you’re putting your company at a significant disadvantage that even the best salesperson won’t be able to overcome. Beyond “traditional” advertising, consider developing differentiated content and channels, automating nurture programs, measuring and optimizing strategies, integrating with social platforms and more.
- The companies that will win business in the future will stop separating marketing and sales (organizationally, as well as resource and budget allocation). Realize that success lies in delivering the experience customers want, and then work in tandem to deliver it. Sales and marketing misalignment costs B2B companies 10 percent of revenue per year, according to PhalaData.
Client: My boss is pushing for more work to be done “in-house,” but I know we don’t have the skill sets and tools needed to be successful. We’ve also had budget cuts, all the while being asked to increase performance metrics. Help!!
TL: Context and transparency are key here. Your boss needs to have a clear and realistic understanding of your team’s skill sets, where critical gaps exist and what can realistically be accomplished given the constraints. This can be done through a simple exercise outlining the outcomes your team is responsible for, the skills (hard or soft) the team possesses, partnerships and budget required to deliver and the subsequent gaps that exist. How you fill these gaps is up to you and your boss. It could be shuffling responsibilities across your team, prioritizing key activities, eliminating work that doesn’t contribute to the desired outcome or engaging a trusted partner that complements your team. I suggest going into the discussion with your boss with recommendations.
This sounds scary, I know, but much better to have the discussion up front than after the project team has failed to produce the (unrealistic) outcomes expected. As we discussed in an earlier question, in many cases management’s understanding of the skills, partnerships and funding required for modern marketing success is woefully outdated.
Stayed tuned for future editions of The Mailbag where we will explore more common questions we hear from clients. But in the meantime, if you have a question we haven’t addressed, tweet us @simantel or contact us.