Beware the Big Bad Wolf – Misalignment is Killing Your Value

When Little Red Riding Hood arrived at her grandmother’s house – dinner basket in hand – she found the big bad wolf, dressed in a bonnet, a nightdress, and fuzzy slippers – with plans to make Little Red Riding Hood the dinner.

Too often, Sales and Marketing find themselves in this exact situation misaligned – and it is killing your value.

Let’s Take a Closer Look…

Many sellers assume that their buyers are well informed, empowered, and have a rock-solid understanding of their needs. 

Yet, data suggests that, for B2B buyers, the purchasing process is stressful, convoluted, and involves sifting through overwhelming amounts of information and coordinating with a whole team of stakeholders to come to a decision. 

Gartner data reveals that 77% of B2B buyers say their latest purchase was very complicated or painful.

And future purchasing decisions aren’t getting easier; they are becoming even more taxing and scrutinized. The average number of decision-makers on a typical purchase has increased from 5.4 to 6.8, according to Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor at CEB. 

“… the early stages of the buying process are extremely difficult, confusing and frustrating,” says Jeff Davis in a recent article. 

This is where sellers come in, with the responsibility of providing customized content that meets buyers where they are.

According to RAIN Group research, 71% of buyers want to speak with sellers when exploring new ideas to improve business results. 

Salespeople have a golden opportunity to guide the buyer through the customer journey, providing customized content that addresses the buyer’s specific needs at critical stages in the buying process. 

“What’s the best way to achieve that at scale?” says Davis, “Aligning with marketing.”

The Stakes Are High

It’s no secret that aligning sales and marketing gets results. 

Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates, and 38% higher sales win rates. Sales and marketing alignment can help your company become 67% better at closing deals. And aligning both departments can help generate 208% more revenue.

However, even though we know the importance of integrating these two essential departments, only 8% of companies have strong alignment with their sales and marketing teams. 

This lack of alignment leads to a significant number of missed opportunities and lost sales. 

“My… What Sharp Teeth You Have!”

It took Red Riding Hood a few minutes to deduce that the bespectacled, slipper wearing inhabitant of her grandmother’s house wasn’t – in fact – her grandmother. 

And Sales professionals do the same thing. 

At first glance, they look at the content provided by Marketing and think it looks great.

 Only on closer look does it become apparent that this content isn’t what it appears, and salespeople realize they’ve got a wolf on their hands… dressed as a bespectacled granny. Meanwhile, Marketing professionals deliver carefully-developed content and then feel perplexed when their Sales counterparts request new material. 

Marketing’s content is frequently brilliantly crafted with expert attention to detail—the challenge lies in articulating value in alignment with the customer’s decision criteria. 

The problem?

Content – no matter how expertly designed – delivered at the wrong time can gobble up a new lead… not unlike a big bad wolf.

See the Wolf for What It Is

In most versions of Little Red Riding Hood, a woodsman was improbably in the neighborhood, popped in for a visit, and then cut open the big bad wolf to retrieve Red Riding Hood and her grandmother from his belly.

A grisly prospect – and a lucky escape – to be sure. 

So, how can you avoid having your leads gobbled up by the big bad wolf?

As Davis points out, “…the Sales team needs to make clear asks from Marketing that have a direct and measurable impact on revenue.” 

That means sales professionals need to have a clear understanding of the buyer’s evolution and measure outcomes they are trying to achieve at each stage of the evolution.

For B2B buyers, the journey towards making a purchase is multifaceted. According to Gartner’s research, the B2B buyer’s journey includes six “jobs” the buyer must complete before purchasing; including problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, supplier selection, validation, and consensus creation. 

Researchers found that customers who perceived the information they received from suppliers to help them advance through their buying jobs were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high degree of purchase ease, and three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.

The key? 

It is in delivering targeted collateral that helps advance those buyers through their decision-making process by being inquisitive rather than just asking questions.

When salespeople are skilled in using inquisitiveness to confirm and clarify customers’ needs in each stage of the sales process, they can collaborate with marketing to develop a compelling narrative. Creating a roadmap to utilize the appropriate marketing collateral to help those customers progress efficiently through their journey – and make a commitment to move forward.

Alignment must be more than a buzzword. 

Sales must be clear and specific about what insights their customer’s need. While Marketing listens with the strategic intent of creating differentiating value through the assets or collateral.

Aligning sales and marketing takes thought and expertise – but the returns are well worth the investment of energy. By aligning your Marketing and Sales departments, you’ll avoid your leads getting lost in the belly of a wolf, and your team will close more deals, increase your revenue, and, ultimately, boost your bottom line. 

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