If knowledge is power, then today’s sales professional is the proverbial 100 pound weakling.
Consider these sobering statistics from a recently published report entitled “Know More to Grow More” that was issued by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council:
–Only 9 percent of surveyed marketers said their organization has a customer intelligence system to deliver real time, account-based news, social insights and customer developments to the sales team.
–Just 37 percent reported they have access to a system to integrate and share customer information between sales and service, support, channel, in-store or field assets.
OK…so let’s translate. It appears that in most companies the sales reps — who typically have frequent interaction and touch with customers and prospects – have little (if any) insight about how these critical audiences are engaging online, in social environments and even with their own company.
Not surprisingly, the CMO Council’s online poll of 230 corporate marketers also found that eight out of 10 respondents are dissatisfied with the current level of conversion of prospects into customers.
Again, translation: our company invests a lot of resources to identify and nurture leads which we then do a poor job of actually turning into revenue. Ouch!
Of course, the argument could be made that an effective sales professional will glean intelligence from direct and in-person conversations with a prospect. That hope is and will remain unrealized because of two significant and accelerating trends.
The first is what I often refer to as the “enlightened buyer.” Customers, prospects and partners now conduct a significant amount of due diligence about a company and its solutions through Web search and social interaction prior to speaking with the sales team.
Think about how you make a purchase decision – on the job or at home. Do you pick up the phone and call the company? Do you respond to a promotional Email? Probably not. You research, talk to colleagues or friends, form an opinion and, only then, initiate a conversation.
The second trend is an age-old truism. Prospects ignore and lie to sales reps. Why? Because no one likes being pitched. And it’s uncomfortable to tell someone “no.”
We’ve identified the problem: a company’s sales team is often woefully uninformed about customer and prospect needs and requirements. The solution is fairly clearly, right? Marketers need to spend more time communicating with sales – in-person, electronically and through scalable enterprise systems.
Executing on that solution is where the challenge lies.
Admittedly, no one has landed on a sure-fire way to “intelli-gize” sales. (Yes, I made up that word.)
However, here are a couple of resources to check out for best practices on how a marketer can effectively collaborate with a sales team.
An Exclusive Q&A with Helena Brito of Mandiant
Featuring Marc Hausman, Strategic Communications Group
Scheduled to Broadcast on December 10, 2013