Buying Behavior Has Changed, Companies Have Not

Sometimes we do things simply because that’s the way it’s been done. No one remembers why exactly, but we keep doing it… even if it hurts us. When I view the typical sales and marketing hierarchy of modern companies, the structure hasn’t changed since we had sales people pushing pavement and dialing for dollars.

In many of the companies I’ve visited, many “sales” are happening on the marketing side of the wall. Sales merely takes the order. Unfortunately, because of the rules of the organization, Sales Departments continue to be credited with those efforts. It’s this gray area that makes measuring social influence marketing difficult.

I’ve written about how Sales can take advantage of social media as well as the change in buyer behavior in quite a few posts:

Some companies that I know have moved Marketing totally within Sales and others have done away with Sales organizations altogether. I’m not advocating either, but it’s interesting that there’s a lot of confusion happening when it comes to where to invest your sales and marketing budget. There’s also no process that supports the measurement of community sales… where your product was sold without the help of marketing or sales but with your community.

The traditional process within an organization hands off the credit as a prospect proceeds through the sales process.
purchase process

The reality, of course is that a sale can come from Sales, Marketing or even from your Community. How many times have you purchased a product or service based on a recommendation from your community?
sales social media close

It’s surprising to me that more companies don’t take advantage of the community utilizing affiliate marketing services. I have affiliate marketing accounts on every product and referral agreements with all of my vendors. I am getting sales for those organizations so it’s only right that I both get the credit as well as the reward!

Ideally, a ‘close’ wouldn’t happen in Sales, Marketing or with the Community. The close would happen in the account generation process, assuring the sale is properly credited to the right source. This would allow companies to identify where they should be investing resources.

Sales, Marketing, and Product should be competing against one another for resources and results. They would also have to work very closely with one another to ensure messaging and branding is consistent. Cost per Close should be measured across all three resources. Some transfers of credit can happen, of course… a referral could go to the website and contact sales for additional information. In that case, the sales team nurtures and brings the sale to close.

You might find that you have an outstanding product or service that grows by word of mouth alone… in this case you would be much better off investing in the product than sales and marketing. Of course, if no closes are happening in the community, the product management team should be held responsible – there’s a good chance your product is lackluster.

The old hand-off method simply doesn’t work anymore. Many marketing departments have incredible close rates, but since sales gets the credit – they also get the resources. I’ve seen many marketing departments pull off miracles with virtually no budget… pouring closes into the organization where the sales team is merely taking the order – but still getting the credit, the resources and the bonuses. If a web lead could jump directly from the site to a close on the account team, the marketing department could get the just credit.

If companies want to understand how important each tactic is to their overall business strategy, they need to also be able to accurately measure where the sales are coming from!

What do you think?

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