My friend Samantha Stone, founder of the Marketing Advisory Network, recently published a compelling study on B2B sales and marketing collaboration (no registration to download.) From an industry survey, the study examined an unhealthy tension between these two groups, a concept Samantha describes as "so common we almost accept it as inevitable."

While there are myriad tools, processes, and trainings that can improve many of the problem areas outlined in the study, one in particular stands out to me as... shockingly... easy to implement.

It's cost-effective, doesn't require much time or an investment in technology, and really only requires us to change some basic behavior in order to execute:

Direct marketing interaction with buyers.

Revolutionary, I know. In the report, Samantha found that sharing the interaction with customers leads to real results.

Marketers at organizations that exceed revenue goals are 2X as likely to participate in customer and prospect meetings as those that miss revenue goals.

She writes "the most successful organizations have broken down the unspoken barrier between marketing and buyers. Often, the gap is caused by a combination of too busy marketers who feel no time exists to speak with buyers, and a resistant sales team who wants to "protect" their account. The result is a lack of engagement and insight."

What to listen for:

I was very glad at the opportunity to contribute to the report. Inside, I share a list of things to listen for when marketers join sales calls, including:

  • what topics, pain points, and pressures are top-of-mind (this is great fodder for new content topics).
  • what questions buyers have during their purchase process (and what your reps can and can not answer).
  • what sales methodologies and tools are working (and which are being ignored).
  • what sales enablement materials your team is missing.
  • if your marketing messaging is resonating as intended.
  • how targeted and qualified your leads really are.

Other key findings:

From a survey of 123 B2B organizations spanning business services, high tech, and other industries, Samantha learned:

  • 67% of respondents do NOT reward sales teams for supporting marketing objectives (although most report marketing objectives align to greater business goals)
  • 57% of organizations report that less than 85% of leads delivered by marketing are followed up by sales
  • Organizations that exceeded revenue goals in the last 12 months are 3X as likely than those who miss revenue goals to have marketing own pipeline acceleration, not just lead generation.
  • When asked to rate marketing’s value to sales in the past 12 months, nearly 50% of sales respondents reported significant improvement, while less than 20% of marketers agreed.
  • The biggest opportunity for common ground (lead followup) is a missed opportunity. Less than 20% of marketers indicated that sales followed up on 95%+ leads delivered by marketing. But sales thinks they are doing a much better job, 50% of respondents in sales reported that 95%+ of sales leads delivered are followed up with.

The full study is absolutely worth checking out.

The study was conducted by Samantha Stone of the Marketing Advisory Network and sponsored by QuotaFactory.