Almost all of my recent assignments have revolved around helping B2B clients realise the power and potential of Sales and Marketing 2.0, and everything I’ve seen or done has reinforced one inescapable conclusion: Sales and Marketing 2.0 is all about collaboration.
At every point in the relationship between prospects, customers and vendors, and in the relationships between customer-facing departments within vendor organisations, the spirit and substance of Sales and Marketing 2.0 offers a way forward.
More than just lipstick on a pig?
For those unfamiliar with what Sales and Marketing 2.0 entails - or who might be sceptical that it involves anything more than slapping some cheap shiny lipstick on the same old sales and marketing pig, I offer a brief introduction here.
But in this article I want to develop the concept of collaboration, and to illustrate why adopting Sales and Marketing 2.0 involves changing from an independent to an interdependent mindset.
3 Dimensions of Collaboration
Realising the full potential of Sales and Marketing 2.0 requires at least three dimensions of collaboration
- External collaboration between customers, prospects, vendors and influencers
- Internal collaboration between sales, marketing and other customer-facing functions
- System-level collaboration between processes, applications and data
External collaboration between customers, prospects, vendors and applications
Let’s face it, with or without your involvement, your customers and prospects are going to interact and collaborate with each other and with the influencers that shape their thinking when they research potential problems to their most urgent current issues. That genie - fuelled by easier information access, internet search and business social networks - has long escaped the bottle.
You’ve no chance of replacing the cork. So the Sales and Marketing 2.0 approach is to take pains to identify your with most valuable prospects, and to understand their most urgent issues and how and why they make buying decisions. But beyond that, it’s important to map out the BuyerSphere of influencers that they turn to for advice - and to identify which of your existing customers are seen as role models and thought leaders amongst their peers. You can use these insights to help ensure that you get found when your prospects start searching for solutions - and become one of the first places they turn to for advice.
Internal collaboration between sales, marketing and other customer-facing functions
Internal collaboration is equally important. Vendors can no longer afford to sustain the turf wars and tensions that have often characterised the relationship between sales and marketing. The excuse that “Sales is from Mars and Marketing from Venus” and that they naturally behave as if they if are on different planets is no longer sustainable - if it ever was.
The Sales and Marketing 2.0 approach is to take pains to ensure that sales and marketing establish a common, documented agreement about who their most valuable customers are through “ideal prospect profiles”, and to manage the sales and marketing process as an integrated function that reflects common language, shared metrics and reflects an integrated revenue cycle from first prospect contact to successful closure and subsequent account development.
System-level collaboration between processes, applications and data
The third and final piece of this puzzle lies in the collaboration and integration between the processes, applications and data that underpin your sales and marketing activities. All-too-often we come across islands of information, fragmented data sources, inconsistent processes and disconnected applications.
The Sales and Marketing 2.0 approach is to integrate these processes, applications and data in a single logical system that avoids data inconsistency or redundancy, aligns with the prospects buying decision journey, and connects sales and marketing actions and metrics into a consistent revenue cycle. But beyond that, the environment needs to support user-contributed content, the ability to adapt and evolve processes in the light of learning and best practice, and above all create an environment that encourages and supports collaborative behaviour. Applications like Salesforce.com’s Chatter are providing a new foundation for these initiatives.
In a world in which information power has passed irretrievably from the vendor to the buyer, there is simply no alternative to react in a collaborative manner to these challenges - and by focusing on external, internal and systems collaboration, vendors can establish the sustainable foundation for continued competitive advantage.