The most difficult part of a salesperson’s job is finding interested prospects and getting the appointment.
The solution is to create prospecting alignment between marketing and sales. We need to be more strategic about our prospecting list. Stop calling everybody and start focusing on real prospects.
Executing on the strategy can appear complicated, highly variable, and overwhelming at first, but teamwork between marketing and sales determines its success.
Here are three ways marketing can help generate more sales appointments.
1. Market Research
How many times has a sales manager walked up to a struggling sales rep and asked, “Hey, how are things going today?” and the salesperson responds, “Just doing a little research…”
Of course sales has to do "some research" on individual accounts to figure out why a prospect might be interested. Namely, they need to review the prospect's personal profile, company website, market trends, and business intelligence to learn about current initiatives, etc. However, this can’t be an all day, or worse, an all week kind of thing. Every minute your sales team spends on research is less time spent on selling.
Great marketing teams take the lead on research and then collaborate with sales on tactical decisions to define a process for identifying and satisfying customer needs. They target buyer personas and common industry challenges to maximize potential opportunities. Next, sales and marketing build a unified messaging program that aligns demand generation with sales prospecting activities.
2. Demand Generation
The first step to building awareness is to determine what questions your customers are asking and look for creative ways to provide answers. Focus on core topics that will intrigue, challenge, and inspire your readers. Be innovative and passionate about covering topics and trends that influence your industry, and share your ideas through a variety of channels and formats.
The best content doesn’t focus "directly" on what your company’s products and services do. Instead, it shares ideas and strategies for solving real business problems. When people like the way your company thinks, they’ll want to do business with you.
3. Follow Up Strategy
It’s easy for salespeople to get into a rut when working the phones, “Hi David, I’m just calling to see where you are in the decision making process…” is a common example.
Develop a collaborative follow up strategy between marketing and sales. Share the campaign schedule with your sales team and develop a follow up strategy with core messaging sales should use to follow up via phone and email. Provide articles, white papers, case studies, videos, etc. that build upon your core topics and align with the current campaign.
You can change the game by providing your sales reps with value-added content that allows them to say, “Hi Karen, the last time we spoke you talked about the overwhelming challenge of executing on new initiatives. I’m sending you a list of seven questions that will help you activate alignment between marketing, sales, and sales operations. I think you’ll find it helpful.”
Track engagement throughout each campaign. Observe which prospects are opening your emails, visiting your website, and engaging on social sites. Sales can take these insights and craft targeted reasons for why the prospect would want to schedule a time to meet.