The expansion of a small business relies on several factors. One of them is an effective and focused marketing strategy aligned with an informed and engaged sales team, nurturing potential customers around their most prized possession: their knowledge.
We’ve spoken before about how Inbound Marketing helps Start-Up businesses. However, we can face a dilemma:
Sales teams from incumbent companies have several perks:
Dharmesh Shah, founder and CTO of HubSpot and author of On Startups: Advice and Insights for Entrepreneurs, noted:
"Don't try to outspend the incumbent. Startups need to find marketing that gives you leverage."
Once a company has ended its startup process, many times, they’re left on its own to grow. In Chile, one of the main barriers to entrepreneurship and innovation, according to CORFO, is the support for marketing and sales.
It’s a struggle to keep heads above water and grow from the second stage of our business growth, exploring new markets and eventually expanding abroad.
During the launch of CORFO and Startup-Chile’s follow-up fund, Scale, Desiree Grinspun, an entrepreneur who adjudicated a startup fund, told La Tercera that “when you’re done with your startup stage, and you have to consolidate a company, in this second period, generally, there are no funds. They are scarce, and this is the phase in which a project lives or dies, and why it is relevant to create funds such as this one”.
According to HubSpot’s Lindsay Kolowich, “trying to get found as a startup is no easy task. Not many people know your business, your team is small, and you're working tirelessly to get your brand's name out there.”
This can have disastrous consequences. For example, the website Emprendedores. Cl cites that 80% of SMEs fail before they reach 5 years. Among the issues that led to these numbers, there are series of sales problems due to:
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2015, “Prospecting is the most difficult step of the sales process. This issue is compounded by the fact that salespeople lack vital information before they reach out to leads”.
According to the study, “executive buyers are not very trusting of salespeople. To regain credibility among executives, salespeople should arm themselves with content and become active on social networks.”
We´re clear, most companies’ top sales priority is closing more deals while improving the efficiency of the marketing and sales funnel. Unfortunately, however, pitching with no context is often a hazardous strategy.
So, don’t blame sales. It’s a two-way communication process.
In the Technology Innovation Management Review article “A Sales Execution Strategy Guide for Technology Startups,” by Ian Gilbert and Stephen Davies, the authors conclude:
“Typically, startup organizations will “take a product to market” focusing on the technology with no attention paid to the actual execution of sales. Therefore, traditional product commercialization efforts often amount to little more than a ´build it and they will come' approach to growth, which is about as effective as one would expect. Consequently, many companies are only modestly successful in their early growth efforts and seek structured external funding before fully exploring the opportunities afforded by their selling model.”
“Startup operations are focused on feature development, not on scaling sales. (…) This demands a fundamental mind-shift so that the operations side of the business can better support the efforts of the sales team”.
New value proposals- especially in the area of technology or Software as a Service (SaaS) needs to expand its client base after its initial startup, where it found resonation from its peers (other innovators) and those customers with an "early adoption profile," willing to try new products before the mainstream market.
The authors call executives, among other things, to:
According to the HubSpot's State of Inbound:
Inbound marketing - and now, Inbound Sales- we can address the facts: the power in the buying and selling process has shifted from the seller to the buyer, and sales can be part of the process. It is highly possible that, before your sales team even picks up the phone to offer a solution to a prospective customer, the person already has undertaken a thorough market and options research for their solution.
According to HubSpot, “if the salesperson cannot add value beyond the information the buyer can find on their own, the buyer has no reason to engage with the salesperson.”
Nowadays, customers have gone through an extensive process denominated The Buyer’s Journey before deciding on a product or service:
Buyers identify a challenge they are experiencing or an opportunity they want to pursue.
Buyers have clearly defined the goal or challenge and have committed to addressing it.
Buyers have already decided on a solution category and one that best meets their needs.
If a company fails to understand how potential customers go around looking for their product, it is hard to pitch. That is why it is essential to build a sales process that supports this buyer journey so that sales representatives and customers feel they are aligned rather than at odds.
However, companies, whatever their size, need marketing & sales alignment in terms of:
This implies a stream of mutual communication in a more developed marketing/sales funnel where both parties nurture each other with information to help the sales process and improve the marketing efforts.
With automated advertising systems such as Google Adwords, a company can actually acquire more visitors to their website. However, there are several problems:
Your team is reduced, so you must focus on quality instead of quantity. Marketing officials must communicate with sales counterparts in closed loop reporting and lead qualification. That way, your team focuses their efforts on the best fit for your company.
Does your company face alignment issues between marketing and sales? How are you dealing with them?
My name is Izzy and I am a co-founder of CRM Toolbox, an award-winning HubSpot Solutions Partner. I lead our team of consultants who provide professional guidance to help businesses implement the HubSpot CRM platform migrate, integrate their tech stack to HubSpot to create a seamless environment for sales reps to use. There is nothing I love more than solving the challenges that come up when someone wants to migrate an old system or integrate their tech stack with HubSpot - it's like a puzzle!
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