Buying is now a team sport. Selling needs to be as well.
“To engage and convert more ideal customers, align your sales and marketing teams around an ‘always be helping’ philosophy,” says Johan Abadie, Chief Marketing Officer at ProcessMaker. “It is no longer sales or marketing, it’s smarketing. Team buying requires team selling.”
Johan notes there has been a major shift in how people buy. The Internet means that buyers can self-educate and often complete 60% to 70% of their information gathering before they engage with a sales team. It also brings more buyers into the purchasing process – with the B2B purchasing process now involving an average of 8+ buyers.
For Johan, the antidote to this more challenging buying environment is to align marketing, sales, and technical sales around a focus of always helping the buyer to buy.
Recent research from Gartner shows Johan is right. It suggests that companies that deliver great buying experiences grow twice as fast as those that deliver an average experience.
I recently spoke to Johan and he shared three key pillars of his “always be helping” philosophy.
- ICP Alignment: Who do you help? 🆘
“It all starts with being really clear on who you are trying to help,” says Johan. “Not having a clear sense of the ideal customer you serve causes friction internally and externally.”
Johan starts building an ideal customer profile with the same criteria used by most marketing teams, things like target verticals, company size, and economic buyer titles.
He adds two more nuanced criteria to improve focus on the buyers you are most likely to help:
- Use readiness questions: During pre-discovery calls, collect information that gives insight on buying readiness: “Where are they in their journey? Do they know how you fit into their tech stack? Do they know the internal departments they will have to work with?”
- Rank verticals based on success stories: “It is really tough to engage and sell to a buyer if you do not have the proof that you have already helped a peer.”
- Website as the Hub: How do you help? 🙌
“In a world where customers self-educate, our messages have to be consistent across the buyer journey,” says Johan. “We have to agree on the most important content assets from the early funnel through the bottom of the funnel. And, you have to look at your website as the Hub.”
For Johan, the whole purpose of getting to a clear and ideal customer profile is then to be able to offer the right type and level of customer education.
Buyers come to your website first, so ideal customers have to see themselves there. The messages on the website then have to align to mid- to bottom-of-the-funnel assets shared by the sales team, including sell sheets, checklists, case studies, or other collateral.
“Sometimes, I feel like I am a parent who is trying to set up a marriage with two people who do not know each other very well,” explains Johan. “If we are clear on our website about who we help and are good at capturing what they interact with, that hard task becomes a little easier.”
- Measure Engagement: When should you help? ⏰
“One big gap for most sales and marketing teams is that they do not use content as a qualifier,” Johan says. “You may have found an ideal customer, but if they are not ready or only marginally ready to engage with you, then it is not time to help.”
Johan points out that there are now many sales enablement platforms that track content consumption to show you if a buyer is engaging and progressing the conversation on their side.
Johan has three rules of thumb for measuring content engagement that support the “always be helping philosophy”:
- Keep things simple: Share just a couple of targeted assets, a checklist or case study; don’t overwhelm a prospect with content
- Let them drive you: Ask what was most valuable, what content they have been able to review, and where they would like to spend time with you
- Use content to gate progression: Align content to each step of the funnel; for example, if you send a deck and the buyer spends no time on the pricing slide, chances are they are not ready for a proposal
We live in a much more difficult buyer environment. Everyone is busy and overwhelmed. An “always be helping” philosophy can align your team to win more ideal buyers quicker.