Building marketing & sales capability for lead generation

We recently kicked off a series on integrating marketing and sales execution, the second and most difficult stage on our digital go-to-market transformation roadmap. Having covered the first step of resetting role and goal clarity in the organisation to ensure the right people are aligned to the right opportunities; today’s post will look at the next step of building new marketing and sales skillsets for a more digital and data-centric operating environment that drives lead generation across multiple digital channels.

Stage two on our digital go-to-market roadmap is where the lengthier and more complex process of functionally integrating marketing and sales takes place. This stage is made up of six important steps that businesses typically move through as they integrate their execution engine.

Building marketing and sales capability

With a firm understanding of why lifting role and goal clarity is crucial to an organisation’s ability to deliver relevance and value to their customers across a much broader channel mix, we can move on to the second step on the journey:
Step 2 – Building New Capabilities

To drive lead generation across multiple new digital channels and effectively operate new technology, both marketing and sales will need to develop a host of new capabilities. Marketers must develop the capability to sustainably produce a greater quantity and quality of content, which successfully ‘cuts through’ in a cluttered digital environment. Sales will need to develop greater commercial acumen and deeper industry, function or solution expertise to deliver the level of insight required to engage with today’s highly-informed customer.

A common challenge is gaining sales buy-in for new ways of working and more integrated processes. In many sales teams, there is significant fear and uncertainty around what a digital future represents. With the profile of marketing rising, investments in digital platforms, as well as emerging tools such as marketing automation being implemented - sales can often feel displaced or threatened. Engage sales around the benefits which digital can bring to their role and wherever possible demonstrate the ongoing incremental benefits of transformation.

The following are three practical steps to help you do this:

Outline a Clear Vision for the ‘Salesperson of the Future’

Tomorrow’s salesperson will be more empowered and enabled. Technology will eliminate many low-value admin tasks and offer better insight into what customers are doing and thinking about. More time will be spent on high-value customer problem solving and, overall, tomorrow’s salesperson will be more innovative, effective and productive. ‘Preparing the field’ for capability development by building this understanding is key to fostering sales buy-in for developing new digital skills.

Develop Sales for the Digital Age

With buyers more informed than ever, salespeople must add more value, more immediately in each interaction. Deep expertise is required to support salespeople in challenging their customer’s thinking. Enhanced commercial acumen is required to support the shift from product conversations to strategic business conversations. A focus on customer data is also critical to helping salespeople ‘keep up’ with what their buyer is thinking; targeted development is required to build data interpretation skills and ensure salespeople can leverage the key technology and social platforms required to engage customers.

Skill Up Marketing for Scaled Demand Generation

Building the ‘always-on’ demand generation engine that delivers the right content, in the right channel, at the right time - is a significant challenge, requiring many new skill-sets. Strong analytical skills are required to ensure marketing can draw insights from increasing volumes of data, as well as report closely on revenue impact and return-on-investment from marketing activities. A range of digital channels such as social media, search and display advertising will need to be operated effectively. A higher order of technical skills is also required to operate complex marketing technology platforms. For most businesses, this represents a combination of capability development and net-new hires. Aside from a range of specialist skill-sets, strong customer and cross-functional engagement skills, the ability to test new ideas, drive change and stitch it all together will be key.

What’s Next?

Our next post in the ‘Integrating Marketing & Sales Execution’ series will focus on step three. We’ll discuss enhancing cross-functional planning processes to ensure that the customer is cohesively supported at each stage of the buyer’s journey and provide best practice tips for getting there.

Worded by Chris Horn