S2 #6: How To Integrate Sales And Marketing For A Seamless Buyer Journey with Matt Heinz
On the show this week, Matt Heinz takes 20+ years of experience and turns them into memorable insights for anyone grappling with the integration of sales and marketing.
With a knack for public speaking and humor, he challenges listeners toward measurable marketing strategies. Join us as we discuss everything from lead funnels and pipelines to qualified leads and sales trends.
If you ask Matt (as I did) why he’s in marketing today, he’ll say it amounts to one giant mistake. He never intended to take his career this direction, but in the end it’s been a pretty great ride.
Graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Washington, he jumped right into reporting. Not long after, he joined PR firm doing a lot of marketing and product marketing. He then joined several startups which allowed him to focus on integrating B2B sales and marketing.
What he began to see is that a lot of marketing isn’t accountable to revenue. Instead, their strategies often end up looking more like arts and crafts centers, producing interesting materials that lack long term direction.
That’s what led him to spend the last 11 years turning cost centers into revenue-responsible profit centers. All this is what he really wants listeners to know - how to turn marketing into an investment force rather than just an added expense.
Sales funnels and pipelines: Are they really that different?
According to Matt, even though funnels and pipelines may lend themselves to either sales or marketing at different times, the buyer sees only one journey - their own. This means that these departments need to think about customer pathways in an integrated, cohesive manner as well.
For starters, teams need to look at the buyer journey thematically. For instance, customers start with a problem that they may or may not know about. This loosens their status quo driving them to change. It’s then that they seek solutions, commit, and eventually buy.
In thinking thematically, you’re managing the buyer’s journey from their perspective. By noting what stages they go through, you can help guide them to the next phase through your sales and marketing strategies.
You also need to think about your process from a selling point of view. If you want to get a sale, how many opportunities do you need to create? How much demand do you need to generate through events, sales calls, and lead generation?
In other words, you need to create a predictable, repeatable process for converting leads. And this goes back to knowing how many buyers you need at each funnel stage at any given time. The good news is that doing the math isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take discipline.
Truth bomb: Leads aren’t enough
Matt and I have both seen our fair share of “spray and pray” marketing. According to Matt, this may get you some general leads, but it will rarely get you qualified leads - buyers who actually need and want what you offer.
This all goes back to an inherent problem with sales and marketing: they like to operate independently of each other. More often than not, unrelated strategies result in conflicting messaging, creating confusion for the customer.
For instance, say that a marketing department is trying to raise awareness of a problem through webinars or white papers. As planned, the prospective client downloads or signs up, but then the next thing they know, they’re getting a call from sales asking if they want a demo. The problem is that buyers at this stage may not have even considered buying your product.
In this instance, what would it look like if sales could be aware of where the buyer is in their journey? They could reframe their question to discover why the customer downloaded the white paper or what challenges led them to seek answers.
This integration results in continuity that not only sounds better to the prospective buyer but also accelerates velocity and interest within the pipeline.
To illustrate his point, Matt mentioned a study they recently conducted on distribution channels. They learned that there’s a distinct impact when companies integrate their channels, making the difference between companies who saw sporadic results and those who experienced consistent, repeatable leads.
How to get sales and marketing to integrate
With all the scar tissue that exists between sales and marketing, integration isn’t going to happen in a 30 minute meeting. The first goal when fusing strategies should be to establish a common foundation.
Do we agree on what customer we’re selling to?
Do we agree on the type of companies we’re trying to reach?
Do we agree on the key people we’re trying to connect with in those companies?
Do we agree on the buying journey?
If sales and marketing departments can sit down and agree about how they’re going to define terms, then they’re on their way to working together. For instance, marketers typically mean anyone who downloads, and sales commonly replies that most of these supposed qualified leads are never going to buy.
Once you’ve jointly defined your terms and goals, you need to determine the job of both marketing and sales at each stage of the buyer journey. More than anything you need to create a basis for consistency. Otherwise, you’re going to have complete chaos if everyone in your sales department coming up with their own idea of a qualified sales opportunity.
What should your funnel be doing?
Ground zero, according to Matt, is to simply get attention. This might be sharing articles, best practices, or quotes. Or it could be inviting your contact to dinner or cocktail reception.
Then your goal is to loosen their status quo. And while you’re probably not going to change internal politics or priorities, Garnter research shows that 46% of the market has a need that they’re not solving. If you can reframe their problem, many will be surprised to learn the issues they really have.
After this, your funnel should be helping them see their problem more clearly and develop a commitment to change.
How can you move clients to a decision point?
If you’ve done your funnel right, once your buyers have started looking at solutions to their problem, you should be a trusted advisor in their eyes. In fact, you’re probably a main reason that they’re even looking for a solution, and they’re going to assume that you have an answer.
Prospects should be comparing outcomes rather than features at this point. In other words, they’re not committed to any particular software; they’re committed to CHANGE. If you know that a prospect is looking at their problem this way, you can provide them with materials that guide them to this decision point.
Even though this decisive juncture instigates the traditional sales process, marketers’ jobs aren’t finished. Matt noted a study they conducted on CMO involvement to prove this point. Typically, CMOs are involved at the beginning by setting an agenda. Then they step out of the process while teams look at demos and solutions. But then, right before the deal is closed, CMOs come back into the conversation to see what the team discovered.
Matt said that many times deals fail at this point because this is often the first time CMOs have seen the product. Yet marketing departments have usually stepped out of the picture at this juncture.
So if you want to move your potential buyers through the decision point, your closing deal needs to reinforce the why - commitment to change.
What to do if the deal stalls?
Guiding buyers involves three important steps:
If you’ve done your job right by teaching them about their problem and tailoring a solution for their circumstances, then you’ve earned the right to take control. In other words, you can come back to them and remind them of the objectives and goals they won’t be reaching.
Sure, there are cases where internal priorities change, but most of the time customers simply get distracted. Aren’t we all guilty of this though? As Matt says, we are all bright shiny object seekers. For anyone of us, if our boss all of a sudden has a fire drill in a different direction, then we’ll immediately pursue that fire.
According to Matt, many times clients ask sales and marketing representatives to stick with them… to keep reminding them to invest in the solution. Again, if you’ve done your job right, you’ve earned the right to be persistent at this point.
What metrics should you track to make sure your funnel is working?
Your mathematics come into play at this point, keeping your funnel financially accountable. What number do you need to hit in order to get enough qualified leads? Most models assume that 5% of qualified leads turn into qualified opportunities, and of those opportunities 25% convert into a sale.
So work backwards from these numbers to show you what kind of outreach you need to have. But build this plan based on the buying sales cycle. For instance, if it takes 90 days to close a deal, you need a certain number of leads 3 months out.
Resources to get you going
Integrating sales and marketing can cause waves, but Matt said he’s never seen a company unhappy after making the transition.
One of the books that can help your teams get on the same page is The Challenger Sale. Plus, Matt’s company website has resources such as blog posts and research reports that help you dig into creating predictable pipelines.
Building and sustaining these funnels depends on both sales and marketing. It’s better to view this process as a journey rather than a destination. Since no company does this perfectly, there’s always room for growth.
Another useful tool is B2B conferences such as the sales and marketing exchange in Boston. These give you an opportunity to see what others are doing to create more smooth buyer experiences.
Matt also said that he has several templates that may help you as you try to translate ideas into your specific company. Since every company is unique, every integration of sales and marketing looks a little different.
Recently, Matt read Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (who also wrote the Steve Jobs biography). Da Vinci had such a strong curiosity about the world and nature and this translated into a deeper understanding of nature, physics, and biology - an understanding that was far beyond his times.
Matt is also an author. He said his favorite book was probably his first one, Are You Selling Pants, Or Selling A Dream? Any first book has special value, but in Matt’s case his first book also offers great ways to create a market.
Want to connect with Matt? Find him here:
LinkedIn: Matt Heinz
Like what you hear?
And, as always, if you need help with your marketing…
Let’s talk. You can book your free consulting session with me today.