What are you working on right now? If more people asked themselves that question (and answered honestly), 2016 would be the dawn of a much better world. More than $350 billion evaporated in 2015 due to poor productivity. Commit to working smarter in the new year to recover some of that lost revenue.
Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, advised, “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” Step one is knowing what those priorities are. Here are the top priorities for B2B sales and marketing teams, culled from a host of recent surveys. Keep these goals handy throughout the coming year, and check off them off as you knock them down.
1. Invest in Sales and Marketing Alignment
A report from Sirius Decisions revealed that B2B organizations that aligned their sales and marketing operations grew 24 percent faster than their peers and posted profit growth 27 percent faster over three years. When everyone rows in the same direction, the boat is going to win the race.
2. Solidify Understanding of the Buyer’s Journey
Forrester reported that 74 percent of business buyers conduct at least half their research online before they talk to anyone about making a purchase. That reality has shifted a great deal of responsibility from sales to marketing in the B2B world. The lead-to-revenue cycle has to be managed by marketing, or it will never make it to sales.
3. Become Customer-Obsessed
Surveys of marketing execs conducted by Gartner found that 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience by 2016, compared to just over a third of companies five years ago. Customer obsession is healthy and absolutely essential in the crowded international marketplace.
4. Develop the Ideal Customer Profile
CEB Global found that an average of 5.4 decision makers must be brought together in consensus in today’s B2B environment. Social Selling is the most effective route to creating a comprehensive customer profile that covers the internal politics of buying. Sales teams need to penetrate deeper into an organization, beyond the buyer representative to the decision makers who support them. Successful teams concentrate on finding and engaging with the “mobilizer,” or internal brand advocate, who can keep the buying process in motion from the inside.
5. Train Everyone on Social Selling
While Social Selling has been on the radar for many companies over the past few years, it’s moving to the front burner in 2016. Studies show that 78 percent of social sellers outsell their peers, and their leads are seven times more likely to close. Yet a majority of sales teams still haven’t received formal training on Social Selling. That era is coming to an end very soon.
6. Ensure That Marketing Creates Sufficient Relevant Content
A study of marketing campaigns by Marcomm found that consumers now have much higher expectations in terms of content that is highly personalized and emotionally engaging. Consumers pay attention to content that challenges conventions and helps them reframe their beliefs. This matches up with the no. 1 complaint of sales teams: that they can’t find enough marketing content to send to prospects.
7. Create New Roles to Improve Decision-Making
The latest study from McKinsey’s on effective digital transformation found that “challenger boards” made up of digital experts have been able to help execs prioritize and make better decisions for the organization as a whole. These experts ask the hard questions, find problems faster and point out digital solutions for disrupting their respective industries.
This is a good place to pause and consider what all these priorities have in common. The answer is that they are all mission critical for BOTH sales and marketing. Many companies have already begun to reorganize operations and incentives to align the efforts of these traditional rivals. As a result, those companies are pulling ahead of the competition and resetting their goals to accomplish greater things. Make it your 2016 resolution to be one of those companies.