Marketing and Sales are like oil and water… true or false? *record scratch* Wait… are we really still talking about this? No? Okay, phew! Frankly, whoever said Marketing and Sales do not or cannot mix needs a good ol’ reality check. Especially in the world of small businesses, these two “departments” are often mixing, mingling, or merged in order to conserve funds while working with a limited budget.
Just take a look at SMB Sales executives for example… they’re the walking, talking poster children for Marketing & Sales alignment. Why?
Because these self-identified Sales people get stuck doing marketing all the time! When you think about it, have you ever heard of a small company’s VP of Sales not having any involvement with marketing? (Let alone managing most of it themselves…)
Yet, in this scenario, there is a fine line between aligning Marketing and Sales and being overwhelmed by them. And that’s problematic.
Over the years, our outsourced marketing team has partnered up with a number of sales wizards—ranging from VPs and managers to business development executives—and we’ve found that the math is simple. When a sales-driven company can outsource its marketing strategy and execution to a dedicated team of experts, it creates a B2B powerhouse!
The Sales Exec Problem Set
When running the sales show at a small or mid-sized business, these individuals are typically responsible for several time-consuming marketing activities: increasing brand awareness, improving the company’s website and social presence, generating content for interested prospects, etc. And that’s all in addition to their everyday sales tasks—making follow-up calls and crafting emails, creating tool kits, supporting client services, identifying and targeting new markets, and of course, bringing in business (you know… just to name a few light assignments).
After working with our client contacts whose primary function within their company is sales-related, the problem set is clear to us. When it comes to marketing, many busy SMB Sales executives struggle with:
- Finding the proper time and resources to efficiently generate qualified leads
- Establishing clear performance metrics as a result of wearing multiple hats
- Garnering support for marketing objectives within a sales-oriented organization
- Maintaining a clear and consistent message across all channels
- Focusing on customer success and retention programs
- Keeping up with the latest and greatest business growth best practices
Surprising? Not really… especially when you consider everything required to successfully attract, convert, and qualify leads…
And nurture and follow up with them until they close as customers…
And then support and delight them with the hopes of extending the engagement, cross-selling, upselling, etc.
SMB Sales executives are essentially managing their company’s combined marketing and sales funnels (sometimes completely on their own!) – all while simultaneously trying to shorten the buying cycle. The irony is practically a pain point in itself.
The Outsourcing Equation
Nobody likes playing catch-up all the time. If you feel like you’re in the middle of reading an abstract from your professional biography, it’s likely an outsourced marketing team is the solution you’ve been looking for.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could subtract a healthy chunk of that work from your monthly to-do list? Here’s how outsourcing makes a difference:
- Focus – First and foremost, outsourcing your marketing tasks frees up an incredible amount of time. Your primary focus can shift back to sales, while the marketing pros handle what they do best!
- Expertise – Even if you’re a jack-of-all-trades type, it’s always valuable to have a group of marketing aficionados on board. Combining your subject matter expertise with the strategic know-how of your outsourced team, your marketing content will be in tip-top shape.
- Extra hands – Sometimes, you just need to outsource monthly projects to a service provider: website redesign and optimization, content marketing, etc. But now you’ll have an entire team at your disposal, versus working with a single freelancer.
- Budget – As opposed to hiring an in-house marketing director, to whom you pay a hefty salary and benefits, you save some serious money by working with a partner agency. Moreover, you have access to multiple marketers, so you’re receiving even more bang for your buck.
- Positive ROI – Your outsourced marketing agency will have the experience to dissect your analytics and clarify performance metrics. By effectively presenting data to your CEO and other members of your company who influence buying decisions, your marketing ROI will become much clearer.
Finding the X-Factor
Salespeople don’t look for an external partner who is just like them. They need a complementary source of support who takes them to a level they couldn’t quite get to on their own. It’s about finding that added value! When searching for the right outsourced marketing team, it’s important they demonstrate the following qualities:
- Industry experience – Whether your potential partners specialize in a few niche fields or they are simply quick learners, you need someone who can understand the nuances of your industry subject matter and translate that into the right angles (yup, the math metaphor is still goin’ strong…). Check out the websites of different marketing firms, and look for case studies that demonstrate they’ve had successful partnerships with companies similar to yours.
- Adaptability – With all of your responsibilities and priorities shifting around, you ought to partner with someone who is capable of not only handling but managing the transitions. You want to know you’re in good hands while your marketing and sales programs evolve in tandem.
- Flexibility – On a related note, your outsourced department must recognize you will sometimes (or even often) need approval from your CEO before moving forward with specific projects. This doesn’t always jive well with agencies who establish a firm agenda in the first 90 days, so ask your potential partner about maintaining a flexible attitude. The ideal marketing mate should know how to incorporate wiggle room into the schedule when deadlines need to be adjusted but work still needs to be completed.
- Confidence – Proactive is a plus. It’s key to work with people who bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the drawing board, and who can work independently when you are busy with your plethora of sales duties.
- Common denominators – Personality and company culture play a larger role in the partnering process than you might initially think. Be sure your marketing team shares similar values. As in any successful relationship, they should be there for you through thick and thin.
The Unwanted Variables
- Neediness – The last thing a sales executive needs to be doing is constantly giving marketers marketing directions. Sure, sales managers and VPs should be engaged in the process, but they shouldn’t have to be the ones directing strategic initiatives once the ball gets rolling.
- “Maintainers” – Nobody wants to pay a marketing partner to simply maintain what they already have. The right firm will know what existing materials can be further leveraged—and what needs to be changed.
- Extraordinary costs – Last but certainly not least, whether or not you are getting your money’s worth should always be an underlying concern. When interviewing an agency, ask about client testimonials and referrals that support the ROI they claim to deliver. No rave reviews? No bueno.
So what’s the main takeaway here? For SMB Sales executives tackling both sales and marketing while on a budget, outsourcing > not outsourcing.
Giving outsourced marketing some serious thought? Let us know if there is anything we can do to help (or if you’re interested in receiving your own B2B digital growth assessment). We’re always up for sharing our insights! And we promise not to make you take a math quiz…