I was on the phone with a B2B software marketer discussing the difficulty of keeping sales from trying to "sell" to any lead they could get their hands on—regardless of their degree of sales readiness. While I appreciate the sales team's enthusiasm, restraint can be a good thing.

There are many online behaviors that do NOT translate into "Sell to me now."

Such as, the prospect:

  • Downloaded a white paper.
  • Registered for a webinar.
  • Passively visited your website.
  • Read this month's nurturing content offer.
  • Mentioned your company name via social media. (unless they said, "Call me.")
  • etc.

In fact, if your sales team follows-up on any of these behaviors with the usual call that consists of "tell me about your company so that I can figure out how to sell you my stuff," chances are that any progress that might have been made is being reversed. Quickly.

Just as marketers are working to map content to the stages of the buying process, salespeople must match those efforts by mapping conversations to those stages. The two functions—working hand in glove—can transform your pipeline momentum by increasing engagement, rather than diminishing it.

For example, if a prospect has downloaded a white paper, it's not effective to have a salesperson call them without a valid business reason that builds from the marketing dialogue the prospect engaged in. If the prospect is in the early stages, perhaps personally inviting them to a webinar on the same topic is appropriate. If they're later in the buying cycle, perhaps it's sharing how a customer similar to them solved the same problem with your company's help. 

This doesn't mean that a few qualifying or discovery questions can't be included in the conversation. After all, the call must create forward motion for both sides. What it does mean is that the focus of the call has to be about being helpful, not on inking the deal.

The point is that we can no longer create sustainable momentum across the longer-term buying process if marketing and sales are working from different storylines and perspectives. In order to create consistency in message flow for buyers, both departments must be using approaches that work in tandem. This will not happen without planning, coordination and collaboration to determine just what buyers need, based on where they are in the process.

For some reason, we treat marketing and sales like they're two separate initiatives. In reality, they're two parts of one process.

I look forward to the day when I download a white paper and receive a follow-up call or email that's actually relevant and useful...