We all know that teamwork is important, but as analytics consultants, too often we see business departments working in silos. Recently, my colleague addressed the challenges that finance and marketing have in communicating. There is another organizational divide we often see. Traditionally, sales and marketing have had a wall between them: one builds demand over time while the other works to ensure immediate product distribution. Ann Handley, digital marketing pioneer, hit the nail on the head when she said that “Sales and Marketing have to start talking to each other. They’ve got to stop spilling each other’s beers.” How can this beer spilling happen, and why?
Marketing and sales are both under pressure – globally, online media and promotions ROIs are, on average, declining, and in 2018, almost 50% of salespeople missed their quotas (Miller Heiman Group, Selling in the Age of Ceaseless Change report). Competitive pressure is ever-present and generating traffic and leads with reduced incomes and budget cuts becomes more difficult with each passing day. Both positions have difficult challenges and many of them are the same. So instead of grasping for the same beer, marketing and sales should work towards the understanding that they both have a lot to bring to the table.
Sales and Marketing Complement One Another
Marketing has the power to influence mass-market customer perceptions of the brand, build brand strength and drive that all-important top of mind awareness. Sales is all about the bottom line and moving product at the right place and time. When these two teams work together, in an organization where analytics has been embraced, challenges fall away. It all starts by doing the following:
- Be open and share insights across departments
The sheer number of customer touchpoints can be overwhelming; however, analytics can reveal which touchpoints work best for different stages of the customer journey, specific brands, and customer segments. If marketing, for example, conducts a marketing mix modeling analysis and identifies that a specific segment responds better to SMS ads over email ads, these insights could also be leveraged to refine sales tactics.
- Align brand advertising with sales cycles to take advantage of strong synergistic effects
Multiple messages can lead to customer confusion and negatively impact sales while coordinating campaigns will benefit from marketing to build awareness, interest and purchase intent and sales to close the deal and build strong and lasting relationships with the most valuable customers.
- Balance short-term business results with longer-term branding impacts
Short-term ROIs for both media and sales reps, while comparable, may not always be as impressive as promotions ROI. However, when accounting for their long-term impacts on brand health their media and sales ROIs can shoot up an additional 100% - 400% while promotions ROIs generally remain the same.
- Don’t have too much of a good thing
Monitor and identify the optimal frequencies for delivering marketing and sales communications, or visits, to customers. Customers are barraged with brand messages daily and it is important to find the balance that will maximise your return while avoiding fatigue. Optimal banner frequencies, for example, can be 2-4x per campaign while optimal sales rep visit frequencies can be 2x per contact per year in the healthcare field. On a related note, sales reps can also be overextended by being pushed to do too many visits per day or per store. For two of our clients, visits to healthcare professionals were optimal at 6x – 8x per day while visits to retailers with electronics departments were optimal at 80x per store per year. Measure, test, and optimize.
- Know your audience
Understanding the factors that positively and negatively influence your customers’ decisions are incredibly valuable for a brand. It is important to invest in the measurement and analytics to identify the best targets and understand their needs. For one of our clients, the marketing team used a combination of surveys and analytics to ascertain what worked for their target market but there were limited options for their sales rep team. With Analytic Partners’ support, they identified that different store designations, such as weekly unit sales, had significant impacts on performance. Interestingly, stores with medium levels of unit sales had the right balance of footfall and space in contrast to the higher sales stores, which were too crowded, and the lower sales stores, which had insufficient footfall. With a different client, by understanding their sales rep visit efficiencies by healthcare contact type we were able to optimise their visit activities to drive increased value.
- Focus on pushing the premium product range
Compared to mid-tier product range, premium products drive a strong trickle-down effect. One of our electronics clients focused its communications on premium products and while it sold 2x more mid-tier products, its premium ROI was still 10% higher.
- Use efficient measures when budgets are tight
Virtual (i.e. phone) sales reps visits are less effective but more efficient than in-person visits. This is ideal for companies with budget constraints – they can decrease costs by using more virtual visits for sales reps that have to cover much larger sales territories AND use this for customers that prefer to be contacted by phone.
These are just starting points. Sales and marketing will always be faced with challenges, but through teamwork and analytics they can and should sit at the same table, pour one another a beer and have a drink.