How Your Sales Team Can Support Your Online Marketing

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Pete Caputa
Pete Caputa



Mike's been writing a great series of posts about how marketing can support sales by ratcheting up sales lead generation online:

In a typical b2b marketing (or marcom) organization, marketing spends the majority of their time working on messaging, website "design", brochure and collateral design, public relations, direct marketing and traditional advertising. Many of these activities indirectly affect demand and lead generation for the company.

However, online marketing activities can directly affect lead generation. The ROI from time spent writing copy for traditional ads, direct mail or brochures is difficult to measure. The ROI from time spent improving web based ads, creating content for a blog, online press release distribution, increasing traffic from search engines from SEO, etc, etc can be measured directly by tracking what leads result from each activity. In other words, blogging, social media, SEO, ppc directly affect lead generation and are infinitely measurable marketing activities, if done right. It follows that if marketing actitivies are now measurable, than the number of leads generated online on a monthly basis - can be controlled. 

That's the fundamental shift. Marketing has a firm grip on the steering wheel for company growth. (If you're still a skeptic that this stuff can work for your business, start reading Rick Short's Industrial B2B Marketing blog. He's marketing solders and alloys.) 

Measurability is a good thing. Marketers should embrace it. Mike's one of the ones that has. I think it was kind of born in him. Innate. Or the engineers at MIT beat it into him or something.

So, now that marketing is accountable. Sales has to be accountable. Sales doesn't have any more excuses.

  • Sales can't complain about lack of leads to call when each salesperson has 100 untouched leads. OR 1,000 that haven't been "closed lost" or "unqualified".
  • Sales can't really complain that these prospects aren't engaged or interested enough. They've opted-in to a sales process. If their interest can't be piqued, how the heck did your salespeople close anything from cold calling?
  • Sales can't complain that these prospects aren't really ready to buy yet. Sales should be nurturing them, identifying urgency and presenting appropriate solutions at the appropriate time.
  • Sales can't complain that these prospects just don't fit our typical customer profile . There's 100 untouched ones. Sales should call the next lead. Even better. Maybe sales can help develop additional profiles that need the company's expertise and/or help product management come up with products and services that serve another segment of the market. 
  • These leads are just not qualified for our service . When marketing can qualify on all of the important qualification criteria that makes a prospect qualified to do business with you as well as all of the criteria that makes you qualified to help them, there's a bigger problem for your sales team. That problem is that sales can be automated. Sales shouldn't really bring this one up. The more complex the sale, the more you need sales professionals. This will be true for most b2b services for a long time, I predict. But, if you're salespeople are complaining that a "prospect who has expressed interest in learning more" is not qualified, they should be sent for sales training. Or you should just say, call someone else.

Ok. So, now that marketing is kicking butt - generating leads - literally "taking names". And sales has no more excuses. What's next?

I'm left pondering, "How can sales support marketing's efforts?" Here's some thoughts, in no particular order.

  • Lead Nurturing. Picking up the phone and finding out what a prospect's needs and interest are. Then, sending them information about how your product addresses those needs.  This will most likely be information that marketing has created.
  • Blogging. Some people say that salespeople shouldn't blog. I agree that bloggers shouldn't pitch. But, that doesn't mean that all salespeople are capable of doing is spouting features and benefits and throwing up deals like a used car salesperson is infamously known for. Good salespeople help identify challenges, solve problems, present appropriate solutions. And salespeople are at the front line. They experience first hand what prospects and customers are dealing with. They have a lot of great insights to share. Get them blogging. (Here's some tips for salespeople blogging.) 
  • Link building. This might be a bit more advanced. There are all kinds of ways to build links to your site. There's two key ingredients: 1) good content on your site and 2) having relationships with other bloggers and webmasters. Your salespeople should be building relationships with bloggers and journalists in your industry. This'll pave the way for some good link building opportunities. 
  • Social Media. Your salespeople should be active on Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and industry specific social bookmarking sites and forums.
  • Social Networking. If your salespeople aren't actively using LinkedIn to network online, reach out to prospects, etc, they are blowing it. I've closed several deals that have come through LinkedIn. But, they should also be trained how to be a good citizen on business networking sites and how to use these sites to drive traffic back to your own site.

Should training in internet marketing be part of your sales training process so your sales team can support your online sales lead generation efforts? How has your sales team adapted to online marketing?  


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