It’s that time of year again, and no, we’re not talking about the return of pumpkin spice everything, but the ideal time to plan your 2019 marketing and sales strategy. Research shows that by simply writing down your goals you increase your chances of achieving them by 80 percent. On that note, flex your fingers and sharpen your number two pencils, because today’s blog is going to equip you with the five C’s your marketing and sales strategy needs in order to experience your best year yet.
1. Collaboration Between Marketing and Sales
Thelma and Louise, Batman and Robin, marketing and sales – some things work better together. However, despite the obvious need to align marketing with sales in order to achieve organizational goals, less than 20 percent of companies have sales and marketing departments that coordinate their annual plans. That is crazy! If you have any hopes of delivering the kind of results that make shareholders giddy with glee, you are going to have to join forces with your coworkers and do some serious collaborating, cooperating, and if need be, compromising. Granted, every corporate culture has its own departmental histories and individual egos to overcome, but this is nothing more than an opportunity to use your expert communication skills to build bridges. If your marketing department is one of the 80+ percenters operating solo, start building cross-departmental relationships today by:
- Gathering leaders from both sides and sharing your desire to unite for the greater good
- Building and retaining momentum by setting up ongoing meetings to collaborate
- Inviting an expert (if needed) to conduct team-building exercises between departments
- Adding a collaborative marketing tool to your stack that enables sales teams to send marketing-approved communications
2. Connection of All Data Sources
Just as marketing and sales are more powerful when joined together, so are your insights when all data sources across your enterprise are connected. Despite the complexities inherent in this type of mass-integration, modern martech tools have made it a surprisingly simple and painless feat to pull off. If you haven’t connected the tech at your organization yet, now is the time. A survey found that nearly 40 percent of businesses connected all their data sources last year and another 41 percent state this is a top priority for the coming year. To connect your data sources like a pro, look for an integration tool that allows both technical and non-technical users to manage how your martech stack is connected.
3. Centralized Access to Data
Although centralizing data access is a natural next step once data sources are connected, it’s one most marketers have not taken. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported that 90 percent of marketers say centralizing access to data is among their top strategic initiatives planned for the coming year. However, the IAB also found that many companies put off centralizing their data because they want to hire skilled data analysts first. The bad news? There’s an industry-wide talent shortage of skilled marketing data analysts. The good news? You don’t have to have a great data analyst on-board in order to centralize access to your data. AI and martech have made it easy for companies of all sizes to centralize data access via tools, like data dashboards. A good dashboard should be as easy to deploy as it is to use. A great dashboard organizes centralized data into actionable insights that anyone can implement — with or without an analyst. A few more reasons you should not put off centralizing your data include the abilities to:
- Make more informed decisions, faster
- Respond to challenges and opportunities in real-time
- Gain more insights into customers, the sales journey and marketing campaign performance
- Increase data quality through enrichment and elimination of bad and duplicate data
4. Customer Profile Updates
The best way to shorten sales cycles and increase both marketing and sales effectiveness is to use ideal customer profiles (ICPs). Because customer preferences and habits are constantly evolving, your annual marketing and sales strategy should always include a review and update of ICPs, which are also essential for scoring leads correctly. Before you begin your ICP review, make sure your data is up-to-date and complete by using a data enrichment tool that cleans and enriches the data sources throughout your organization. Next, gather a list of your best customers and compare their data. Look for both similarities and differences, so that you can establish buying patterns and benchmarks that will impact future marketing campaigns and sales promotions. Most data management platforms and dashboards are able to help you identify and compare your ICPs (aka market fit analysis), so that you can ensure your marketing materials and sales teams are pursuing the target markets with the greatest potential. Once your ICPs are identified and updated, you may want to use an AI-based predictive analytics tool to help you uncover and pursue new opportunities with customers who fit your ideal profile.
5. Consultations with Current and Former Customers
Communication is the key to building great long-term relationships, which is why your strategy should include meaningful interactions with both lovers and leavers of your company. People enjoy telling others what they think, so make it your mission to personally ask customers what’s on their mind, and then listen. This means designating time to have a real-live conversation, not inviting them to take a two-minute online survey. To make it worth their while, invite them to dinner, silence your cell phone, and then ask questions about their experience, their likes and dislikes. As they share insights with you about what it’s like to do business with your company, refrain from the temptation to interrupt or defend against criticisms. You may even want to ask permission to jot notes. Yes, this kind of information takes time and effort to pursue, but the potential to learn something interesting that could lead to the identity of a new competitive differentiator or an improved customer retention strategy will be well worth it.