The dynamic between Sales and B2B buyers is changing. Buyers no longer wait for sales reps to educate them on a new product or service. They now have access to resources to help them research on their own — before they even meet with a vendor.
This kind of self-reliance is because B2B buyers no longer see content handed to them from Sales as addressing the specific challenges they face in their business. This disconnect has been growing, but the root cause is Marketing and Sales not finding a way to share insights that can tell them more about the buyer and their wants and needs.
As many organizations know, the union of Marketing and Sales often isn’t perfect. For many years, both have operated separately to diminishing results.
Focused on generating leads, Marketing operates at the top of the funnel and has traditionally not been held accountable for revenue. Content is recognized as being essential at the top of the funnel to generate awareness and leads. But its role is less understood at the bottom of the funnel where deals are made.
From research in the Harvard Business Review, we know that when Sales doesn’t have effective content, sales cycles take twice as long than customers expect. Which increases the likelihood that deals will get lost. In fact, the thousands of senior executives surveyed around the world describe the sales process as “hard,” “awful,” “painful,” “frustrating,” and a “minefield.”
Needless to say, the threat that the gap between sales and marketing poses to B2B selling is very real.
The alarms are already sounding: A global study from LinkedIn and the Content Marketing Institute shows that 60% of respondents believe that the misalignment between sales and marketing could damage financial performance.
The gap between Marketing and Sales is not just threatening the bottom line, but it is changing buyer behavior. Today, prospective buyers are conducting research themselves outside their contact with a sales rep through third-party websites, buyer reviews, blogs, social media and more. In fact, 68% of B2B buyers prefer to research online, on their own – a 15% increase from two years ago.
In other words, in this scenario, knowledge is power. We are currently witnessing a shift in power from the sales rep to the buyer. Prospective buyers now know what they want and where to get it. The LinkedIn/Content Marketing Institute survey found that the overwhelming majority do not want a cold call (90%). Only 12% of prospects want to meet with a sales rep.
This means that once buyers engage with Sales, they expect information they can’t get on their own. Marketing and Sales, therefore, are under increasing pressure to deliver compelling information that has value. In fact, data from Corporate Visions showed that 74% of buyers choose to work with the salesperson who first added value.
Clearly, we are entering a new landscape where prospective buyers expect more when they engage in a B2B transaction. To succeed in this new era, Marketing and Sales teams need to come together to deliver a better buyer experience.
How can Marketing and Sales work together? Read Showpad’s new report, Sales as the Forgotten Marketing Channel. In it, you’ll learn how the partnership of Marketing and Sales can create a more meaningful relationship with your buyers and increase your opportunities for selling.