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In numerous organisations, the sales and marketing teams are often embroiled in a state of conflict, if not a cold war. This complicated relationship frequently leads to subpar or even catastrophic outcomes. Marketing professionals perceive the sales teams as excessively fixated on individual customers and short-term results. Conversely, sales professionals believe that marketers devote too much effort to project performance, which appears to lack action to them and generate pointless leads that the sales team cannot convert. In summary, each team underestimates the other’s contributions.
In a study by Hubspot, they discovered “Businesses with effective Sales and Marketing alignment achieved 208% higher marketing revenue than organizations with a disjointed team. The lack of coherence between sales and marketing is typically the primary cause of underperformance in organisations. However, when these teams collaborate successfully, companies observe a significant enhancement in essential performance metrics, including shorter sales cycles, lower market-entry costs, and lower sales costs.
If your sales and marketing teams are not cooperating well, a B2B incentive program could effectively unite them.
The relationship between sales and marketing teams is often undefined because the individual teams are working in silos and worrying about managing their targets. Instead, the teams must meet in the middle to get the best results for the organisation. A strategically designed B2B incentive program is a great way to unite teams to work toward a common goal.
When it comes to integrating your sales and marketing functions, internal communication is key. But just talking more isn’t always the solution. Meetings can be expensive, especially for large businesses.
For example, a monthly sales and marketing meeting could tie up 40 staff members for over 2 hours. That’s a total of 80 hours lost in one meeting! During that time, the sales team could have closed a deal, and the marketing team could have made progress on a new product or design.
That’s where a B2B incentive program comes in. It focuses on sales outcomes and puts the customer at the centre of the communication. Everyone’s performance is considered, so there’s no wasted time or vested interests. A B2B incentive program is the ideal project for marketers and salespeople to collaborate on!
The program provides a platform for the teams to share information, from which both teams can benefit and improve their performance.
Marketers can gain valuable insights from the sales team’s knowledge of their customer relationships, market conditions in different locations, and the types of rewards that can help drive customer engagement. On the other hand, the sales team can learn how branding and messaging can impact the success of a rewards program, as well as the frequency of collateral and reporting.
When both teams are focused on offering the best communication and rewards in the market, customers can achieve their desired outcomes. By listening to the sales team’s frontline knowledge, such as customer perceptions and competitor analysis, the marketing team can create bold messaging and unique advertising strategies to improve product placement and visibility in the marketplace.
We often hear team complaints that the sales team is too busy with their targets to share vital feedback about experiences, ideas and insights. Similarly, the sales team complains that marketing doesn’t action the feedback they do provide, so it’s a waste of time. It seems that neither team has any real incentive to share their information, but this situation is detrimental to your organisation.
A B2B incentive program will allow you to align the teams and create a feedback loop, so they can share information effectively.
Make the program manager the centre of all information (the centre of truth!) to help define each team’s role in the project. The manager should work with the marketing and sales heads to work out the following aspects of the project.
Here are some ways the marketing and sales team can work together in phases of a B2B incentive program.
The sales team will gather knowledge about the B2B incentive program:
They will give customers a pathway to success – what they could purchase to help achieve a reward. They will also structure deals or sales opportunities, so customers can easily visualise how they can achieve.
Hint: Allocate incentive points for completing all or part of the training.
The marketing team will determine branding, language and the best presentation for program information. The training will include product USP, incentive structure and how the sales team can track their progress.
Hint: Have a marketing liaison officer work with the sales head to consider encouraging the sales team to buy into the program.
As the team at the frontline of the project, the sales team knows the reality on the ground.
For example, the sales head might inform the program manager that the flyer isn’t the right approach because the sales team can’t keep track of sales or the pathway to redeeming points, or they find the process confusing and laborious.
The marketing team will determine what avenues to use when communicating about the loyalty program to the sales team. All messaging must be aligned and the promotion material eye-catching to encourage the sales team to buy into the process.
For example, the marketing team can create personalised program communications and support documents for the sales teams to use.
The sales team will provide regular updates from the ground about how the program is performing. The program manager and sales head will work together to track the progress of rewards redemption, the process and any operational issues.
The marketing team will collate all the information the sales team and program manager share. Where relevant, the team will develop personalised communication techniques to assist the sales team in selling the product.
For example, if feedback says that program uptake is slow, the marketing team can create a real-time tracking system and regularly announce the leaderboard, congratulating the best salesperson. This will create an aspirational and evidence-based pathway to success. If the feedback is positive, the marketing team can encourage that behaviour by promoting the program’s highest reward, such as travel incentives.
A targeted B2B incentive program that aligns with customer objectives will give the sales team another reason to get out, promote and sell products in the program. Leaderboards are a simple and effective way to encourage competition between salespeople, regions and teams. If they sit at the top, not only are they the ‘best’, but their customers are probably on their way to achieving their targets. Additional elements like personal rewards, recognition or even a place on a travel incentive program will elevate the program.
It’s just as important to offer success measures for the marketing team as it is for the sales team. Marketing needs to consider the most effective ways to keep the loyalty program top of mind and sell the aspirational goals to the customers. For example, you might link engagement like EDM open rates and click rates or link new promotional material to individual or marketing team bonus rewards.
A B2B incentive program is a highly effective tool for fostering collaboration between sales and marketing teams and driving organisational performance improvements. By aligning incentives with sales outcomes and prioritising customer-centric communication, such a program can provide a shared platform for both teams to exchange insights and leverage each other’s expertise, ultimately contributing to the organisation’s overall success.