Some 57% of the buying process -- marketing's territory -- gets done before customers interact with sales. Search, social and other online media continue to force the shift. The change requires marketing and sales teams to work more closely together to understand how changes in the buying funnel impact their respective teams, per a study from SAP and Harvard Business Review Analytic Service.
Marketers need to work with sales teams to help them learn how to penetrate the sales process that happens without them, said Johann Wrede, customer engagement solutions, global senior director of solution marketing at SAP. "Salespeople need to be more active on social media, but in a non-salesy kind of way," he said. "They need to participate in LinkedIn groups or have a blog. These are marketing skills."
The model aims to help sales and marketing gain insight, collaborate with "empowered" online consumers, and understand the individual buyer, especially when it comes to business-to-business transactions. The change begins with moving from a customer relationship management strategy to customer engagement, as consumers bounce through non-linear buying processes.
"CRM is a dated approach," Wrede said. "It's easy to integrate the technology, but much more difficult to create strategies that change the culture of a business."
The study aims to help companies transition from CRM to CE. "Winning at Sales in a Buyer-Empowered World" focuses on sales organizations, but hidden in the context are key ideas affecting marketing departments in the same way such as "65% of sales organizations say rising customer expectations are their number one challenge" and "37% of businesses expect revenue increases when applying analytics best practices to sales."
One thing is certain -- marketing and sales need to work more closely to understand how changes in the buying funnel impact their respective teams.
Wrede said changes that impact sales teams also impact marketers. "Customer expectations increases impact teams, as do competition, product lines and tools like big data, mobility and predictive insights," he said. "Sales and marketing are beginning to converge. Sales teams need more marketing skills and marketing teams need more sales skills."
Since customers are now in control of the funnel, there's no line that signals when it's time for marketers to hand the job to sales.