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How to align sales and marketing: Part 2

November 20, 2019

Michael Levy, Principal at GZ Consulting, writes exclusively for the Cognism blog in the second of a two-part series.

In Part 1 of this series, I touched upon how the rise of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) are transforming revenue operations and pushing a drive towards sales, marketing, and customer success alignment. 

Cloud-based sales acceleration solutions are also promoting improved workflows and customer journeys while aligning revenue operations.  The first game-changer is B2B Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) and the second is Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs).  Both service categories have quickly matured over the past half-decade.

B2B DaaS

Sales and marketing were a bit slow to recognise the value of B2B DaaS as it lacked the “shiny new object” appeal of other revenue generation solutions.  There is little sexy about better B2B data quality, but there are many benefits.  Thus far, B2B DaaS hasn’t passed through the Gartner Hype Cycle.  It was only in Q2 of this year that Forrester even began evaluating B2B data platforms.

B2B DaaS supports many corporate processes including:

  • Digital marketing landing pages (improved web forms)
  • Duplicate record management
  • Lead enrichment
  • Customer segmentation and reporting
  • Audience targeting
  • Lead scoring and routing
  • Researching accounts, contacts and leads within CRMs
  • B2B prospecting based upon persona (function, level, location)
  • AI initiatives

B2B DaaS prefills CRM and MAP records during customer, sales, and service data entry.  It then maintains data quality, increasing sales rep confidence in CRM intelligence and improving AI-based recommendations.  B2B DaaS reduces wasted time keying in company and contact information and provides standardised intelligence such as industry codes, job functions, and sizing data. 

Not only are enriched records more reliable, but sales reps can focus on activities where they excel and take joy – interacting with customers and prospects.  Because account and contact intelligence are prefilled and automatically maintained, reps can focus on account planning, messaging, and reaching out to the broader demand unit.

Thus, sales reps are more effective and efficient.  Likewise, marketers benefit from B2B lead generation, webform prefills, better lead management decision-making, improved segmentation, and better audience building and messaging. 

When sales and marketing platforms are standardised on a single reference dataset, there is reduced departmental conflict due to disagreements about the value of leads.  Reference data unification ensures that a common data source is used for both marketing automation lead decisioning and CRM lead qualification and account planning.

Likewise, B2B DaaS pre-populates leads with firmographic, technographic, and biographic data, providing lead-to-account management (L2AM) for current customers and prospects.  L2AM reduces duplicates and channel conflict by ensuring that leads are mapped to the appropriate accounts and contacts.   

For example, many companies have subsidiaries with names and domains that differ from the ultimate parent.  Lacking a reference database, these subsidiary leads may sit in marketing nurture or be sent to an SMB rep instead of the proper account owner.  Absent a reference database, leads related to corporate subsidiaries are often mismanaged.

We’ve published a data sourcing guide for B2B sales and marketing teams! Click the image below to find out more.


Sales Engagement Platforms

The second SalesTech alignment driver is the rise of Sales Engagement Platforms (SEP), which support a strategic approach to sales messaging and account prioritization. 

Five years ago, there was a clear handoff between B2B sales and B2B marketing.  Once a lead was deemed marketing qualified, it was sent to sales which often ignored the lead.  Instead, leads were often generated by sales reps.  Now that leads are better targeted due to ABM and data enrichment before being passed to sales, reps can immediately kick off a cadence of messages from the SEP.

Once a better-qualified lead is passed to sales, they can perform a “double-tap” by placing a cold call and emailing a contact on the first day.  What’s more, the sales emails and subsequent steps are pre-planned and A/B tested by sales operations and marketing to ensure that messaging is optimised. 

SEPs support dynamic lead prioritization so that reps can focus on the next best activity throughout the day.  Thus, much of the non-customer interfacing overhead in sales (populating CRMs, prioritizing tasks, setting follow-up tasks and documenting call disposition) is automated by B2B DaaS and SEP vendors.

While this sounds like sales decision-making has been removed, this is far from the case.  Sales reps decide which outbound cadences to employ, which products and services to pitch, and how to personalise each message.  When much of the administrative overhead is removed, sales reps can focus on building authentic one-to-one messages with members of the demand unit (buying committee). 

Unlike marketing automation which sends general messages to prospects, sales reps review and customises emails before sending them.  This provides an opportunity to personalise each message by vertical, function, or previous discussions.  In this case, automation supports more authentic relationships between buyers and sellers by allowing reps to focus on messaging.

Caroline Robertson, VP of Research at Forrester, predicts that digital engagement will increase in 2020 while sales engagement will increase by 10%.  The prevalence of improved data around buying committees, a broader network of influencers, and compelling content “actually increases the value of the role of the human to filter and provide the right information at the right time.”

And because much of the process is now automated, it is also measured.  Reps can be confident that:

  • They are focusing on decision-makers at ABM prospects
  • Their time is allocated to the next best activity
  • Their messages are tested for efficacy
  • Follow-up tasks are scheduled even though they are not stopping to consider their next steps

In short, SEPs and B2B DaaS improve sales rep odds of reaching quota through better communication, prospect prioritization, and intelligence. 

The four trends (ABM, CRO, B2B DaaS, and SEP) all promote sales and marketing alignment.  Each is focused on closer relationships with top prospects, improved information and messaging, and supporting the buyer’s journey.  They also promote customer insights, a focus on demand units, and synchronisation of activities across revenue operations.  Soon, we may be discussing RevenueTech instead of SalesTech and MarTech.

For more of Michael’s B2B industry insights, please visit his website: