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3 Ways a Unified Sales and Marketing Team Can Drive Demand Generation Research shows that when an organization's sales, marketing and product functions are aligned, that organization achieves 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability. Here are three ways to get there.

By Margaret Wise Edited by Chelsea Brown

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Technology has handed purchase power over to consumers, enabling them to research and compare brands without ever speaking to a sales rep or setting foot in a store. Tech behemoths like Google and Amazon have further influenced the digital experience with personalized product recommendations and intuitive search models that bring up exactly what people are looking for within fractions of a second.

This has led to significant changes in consumer behavior, reshaping the buyer journey into a self-led, non-linear path that spans multiple channels. To keep up, companies must let go of "the old ways" and implement new strategies that put the customer front and center.

One strategy is to unify the sales and marketing teams. Research on the economics of alignment shows that when an organization's sales, marketing and product functions are aligned, that organization achieves 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability. But how do you get there?

It starts with a shared goal of revenue generation. Under a unified approach, marketing and sales teams do not silo their data in separate departments, but house it in a single source of truth from which they both work. They have a clear, agreed-upon definition of the buyer journey and understand that it is not a one-way funnel but a winding path where buyers move easily from marketing to sales and back again as they consider their purchasing options.

With a firm understanding of the modern buyer journey, clear definitions of its stages and a single source of complete customer data, sales and marketing functions are empowered to optimize all stages of the buyer journey. This optimization means more successful demand generation efforts propelled by shared content, nurtured upselling and personalization strategies.

Related: 3 Ways to Get Your Sales and Marketing Teams to Stop Fighting

Revamping content to cater to buying behavior

Content plays a large role in today's purchase behavior. In fact, the average buyer today navigates between 60-70% of their purchasing journey independently, mainly online. This makes content the bread and butter of demand generation. It is a low-entry method to introduce a product or service to an audience while also providing them with the knowledge they seek, simultaneously building awareness and trust.

But to be effective, content must be relevant. Marketers, the prime creators of content, traditionally cast wide nets when generating top-funnel demand. This tactic catches a lot of interest, but sales will be the first to say that lead quantity does not equal quality. Salespeople speak to purchasing customers daily. They have deep knowledge of buyers' different wants, needs and problems, making them a wealth of information for content development. Under a unified approach, marketing would leverage this knowledge to create content that not only generates interest but also attracts the attention of those more likely to purchase.

Another strategy supported by unified sales and marketing teams is content mapping. This process uses input from both sides to categorize content into the different stages of the buying journey where it would be most effective. This extends the effectiveness of existing content and provides sales with an organized library of go-to materials for later-stage buyers while informing marketing of content areas that could be improved.

Related: Aligning Sales and Marketing Needs To Be Your Priority

Optimizing upselling strategies to existing customers

It's common knowledge that existing customers are an excellent source of revenue. Upselling and cross-selling provide lucrative opportunities at a cheaper cost. But, particularly in B2B selling, often these opportunities must wait for next year's budget or additional approval before moving forward, leading to long periods between expression of intent and purchasing. Instead of leaving these opportunities to cool, a unified approach empowers sales to recycle that opportunity back over to marketing as a lead to nurture with relevant content and maintain mindshare until the time for a decision arrives. This keeps the opportunity engaged while allowing sales to focus on prospects currently in a stage ready for purchase.

Related: Play Nice: 3 Ways to Get Sales and Marketing to Team Up (Infographic)

Improving personalization by leveraging data

In today's consumer landscape, personalization is an expectation, not a perk. Digital algorithms from Amazon, Google and Facebook have primed people to see personalized recommendations and content without looking for them. Businesses can meet these expectations by leveraging customer data to serve up personalized content, products and value propositions.

A unified sales and marketing team can boost personalization efforts, because they are equipped with consolidated data, providing a complete view of a customer's unique journey, including all touchpoints such as content, form submissions, sales interaction and more. This enables both teams to track the journey as a customer moves back and forth from research to engagement as their journey matures. Armed with this information, they can customize content and interactions to that customer's specific needs.

Successful demand generation is vital to keeping a full pipeline. Unifying the sales and marketing teams can significantly improve efforts by enabling them to leverage their combined knowledge and skillsets. Together, they can create content that is more relevant to the audience, improve upselling opportunities and provide a more personalized buyer journey.

Margaret Wise

Chief Revenue Officer of ClickDimensions

Margaret Wise has more than 20 years of experience helping companies leverage and attain results from their digital customer-experience platforms. As an early influencer in the CRM space, Wise has a keen understanding of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem, marketing technology and strategy.

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