United We Stand: Aligning B2B Sales and Marketing Budgets
How’s your budget? Is it everything you hoped for or wished for? In most cases, the answer year in and year out is “No.” And that’s to be expected when various business functions within your organization are competing for a limited amount of funding. It is a zero-sum game; more funding for one area means less for another. Even in good times — when revenue and profits are growing at a healthy clip — departments are doing all they can to maintain, if not fuel, even more growth. But in these recent difficult times, the competition for budget funding has been much more intense. Areas such as marketing and administrative get cut in favor of areas like sales and product/solution development. Less advertising and marketing activities are done while more sales reps are hired in hopes of lowering costs and increasing revenue.
Easy enough, but at what point does less B2B marketing investment actually result in less sales? What happens when a company no longer attends or hosts the events and activities that sales reps rely on to qualify and win deals? Fewer white papers and Webcasts gathering interest and educating prospects at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, less case studies and reference accounts in the middle of the solution exploration phase, and fewer live events and Web-enabled product demonstrations during the final decision phase. Sales reps are increasingly forced to go it alone and often end up doing what marketing used to do (e.g., host live events to help close deals), which means less time actually selling and winning.
So, instead of fighting against other business functions, why not get smart and stand together to fight the competition? That requires marketing and sales to understand the direct impact that certain marketing activities have on sourcing and influencing the sales pipeline. That requires marketing and sales to understand which marketing activities are most effective at finding, qualifying and closing deals. That requires sales to tell marketing what and when it needs things. That requires clean and clear processes and agreements between marketing and sales, tracking of activities and proper attribution, supportive and integrated systems and tools, and effective reporting capabilities. And that requires a marketing function that is capable, properly funded and up for the challenge. If marketing knows that sales needs more new leads in certain industries or regions then it should invest in activities designed to generate more new leads. If sales reps tell marketing that they need more programs designed to accelerate leads toward the bottom of the pipeline then marketing needs to be able to respond and target events and collateral at those opportunities.
Lots of “ifs” in those statements, but the resulting “thens” are clear. When sales knows the impact of what marketing does and uses that to communicate back what and when it needs help, then sales is more productive and effective — such as a higher percentage of sales pipeline sourced and influenced by marketing, improved close rates, higher percentage of time selling, faster deal velocity, and higher average selling prices — and marketing is more impactful and viewed as a valuable, enabling accomplice rather than just another department fighting for limited funding. It is always better to have a willing and invested accomplice standing with you rather than against you.