“The very nature of sales reps is, ‘Get out of my way and let me do it myself,’” said Obermayer, who is also president of Sales Leakage Consulting Inc. “They don’t want to ask any questions.”
Marketers end up gun-shy about just how to communicate with sales, creating a vacuum between sales and marketing reps and therein lies the rub, according to Obermayer, author of “Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers.”
But Obermayer stressed that the dynamics are changing, however gradually, in light of the explosion in marketing automation services and a growing number of marketing executives (gasp) now responsible for sales quotas. He provided FTL with his take on some of the other issues circulating around b2b sales and marketing.
Follow the Lead: Sales and marketing alignment is being hotly debated right now, but alignment has been bandied about for years. What’s different this time around?
Obermayer: The maturity of CRM and the acceptance of marketing automation (MA) as an affordable tool are changing the landscape. As the price for MA has declined it has allowed average B2B companies to use the tools and bridge the gap between prospects need for information and nurturing until they are ready to buy. The average B2B sale takes from 6-8 touches to consummate. 75% to 90% of the leads are ignored by sales because the person is not immediately ready to buy. With MA and CRM together the prospect can be tracked until they are sales ready.
FTL: Is sales lead management a nonstarter sans any true alignment between sales and marketing departments?
Obermayer: Sales Lead Management is an overarching process, a philosophy that changes depending on the nature of a company’s need. A marketer and salesperson needs the tools (CRM and MA) and the knowledge to use the tools in the manner consistent with their sales process and the buyer’s buying process. CRM and MA must but be played like a musical instrument. You wouldn’t hand sheet music to someone who can’t read it and ask him or her to sing a few bars. Sales Lead Management allows marketers to learn the sheet music and create the business rules that apply to them, which serve the need of the salesperson.
FTL: What’s your take on the increasing melding of lead generation and the use of social media?
Obermayer: Social media has its place in delivering messages to the customer. Measurement is another thing. Most marketing budgets have branding tactics and lead generation tactics. Branding cannot always be measured except by its absence. Count Basie said it is the notes you don’t hear that count. I think branding falls into this area. You may not always fully see the branding contribution but without it there will be a huge void. Social media messages point the prospect into a format that they can be registered and be counted as a lead.