Earlier this summer Market Connections attended Women in Technology’s (WIT) “Decoding B2B & B2G PR & Marketing Trends” in partnership with Merritt Group. This informative discussion brought together a panel of leading marketing and PR professionals from small to large companies including Bitdefender, Hybrent, KPMG US and Microsoft to discuss challenges they face and successes they’ve had in marketing to other businesses and the public sector.
In part two (read part one) of this blog post series we’ll focus on a second challenge discussed by panelists: broken internal systems and processes.
How Can We Better Work Together: Broken Internal Systems & Processes
Market Connections often works with B2G clients to support their business strategies from brand awareness through business development. The internal structure of these companies often varies, affecting the business growth efficiency and success of the organization. This was echoed by the panelists. Whether it’s interdepartmental communication, collaboration or even the simple inefficiencies in using marketing automation systems, the panelists shared their perspective on the good and bad of how their teams work together.
Sales & Marketing: A Contentious Relationship? Or Working Together?
How many times have we heard the following:
“The marketing leads don’t give us what we need” or “the sales rep just cares about his or her individual sales”
While each group may have different short-term goals, both need to work together to achieve long-term success.
According to Marni Puente, Market Development Leader from KPMG every member of her team must focus on the organizational client interaction plan, understand where the strategic relationships are, and together support negotiations, decision-making and networking. In her perspective, “If you’re responsible for marketing you’re responsible for business growth too.” She continues to say, “Whether it’s…doing business development [yourself], or …. working closely with the business development team, (business growth) is something every marketer thinks about.”
Are companies structured for this integration?
Market Connections conducted a study of government contractors in 2018 that revealed that over half (51 percent) of respondents stated their business development (BD/Sales) and marketing departments reported to different supervisors, nearly four in ten reporting to a single supervisor and the remaining listing either BD reporting to Marketing or vice-versa. While more than half may be reporting to different supervisors, this does not mean there isn’t room for integration; meeting regularly can ensure communication and alignment of business goals.
According to our study, many successful companies, nearly two-thirds of respondents, said their sales and marketing teams meet at least once a month, and a quarter of which said they meet weekly. However, interestingly, nearly one in five said they meet maybe once a year, if at all. Anna Wehberg, Senior Director of Marketing at Bitdefender validated our results. “If sales and marketing are not aligned, business doesn’t seem to flow right.” According to Wehberg, her sales VP and her speak, text, or Skype every day.
According to the speakers, those departments that work together see better success. A strong relationship between these two departments is key. As one panelist put it, “When relationships are strained things are going to be bad… When things are good, they’re really good.”
The overall feeling is that there is a general trend moving towards the integration of sales and marketing, with a strong focus on relationship building between the two groups.
Marketing Supporting Business Development
How are marketers supporting their BD counterparts? At Microsoft, Tonya Klause, Communications Manager US and Americas Services, talked about reducing redundancies while maximizing the “story” of Microsoft. Marketing plays a key role in training their sales team to use tools such as LinkedIn, Navigator and Elevate. Skills and techniques to effectively reach customers include content sharing on Navigator and LinkedIn, helping executives develop their profile, unique voice, and blogging skills.
Marketing can also help support the BD/Sales teams through webinar trainings and follow-up. Wehberg explained that in addition to hosting training sessions, she records those sessions and saves them online for later access. She takes notes and pulls highlights from webinars and shares them along with links to the original webinar to team members via email as a follow-up. She even texts the sales teams to ensure they have the information. She tries to find different ways to give sales reps information in different formats and repeats the message several times, understanding that people may respond and learn differently.
In general, we are moving towards integration. In order to have success in the market, it is essential for marketing and sales to collaborate, communicate and have integrated strategies. Regardless of how departments are currently structured, these teams must work together toward their common business growth goals. Best practices include: keeping lines of communication open between executives, regular weekly or monthly team meetings for strategy and planning and providing training opportunities to ensure a unified external brand as well as a sharing of best marketing and sales practices.
Thanks again to WIT and Merritt Group for putting together a great event with insightful conversation around challenges and trends and many thanks to each panelist for thoughtful input that will be supportive to B2B and B2G marketers.
Read part one of our blog series providing an overview of the event and insights into top challenge: keeping content relevant.