Sales & Marketing

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Marketing In a Sales Focused Organization

B2B companies are able to identify and use champions by looking out for people in the prospective customer's organization that are most receptive of their marketing communication and providing the right motivations that will make them advocate for their solutions. They also achieve this by providing "champions content" that will make the champion more effective as well as to overcome their fear. We have provided more details below.

IdentifyING and MotivatING Champions

Most organizations identify champions by looking for a member or members of the company's team they are selling to that is excited about their product. They do this by listening to various members of a prospective customer's team with influence and authority, nurturing a relationship with those most receptive to their message, and coaching the would-be champion.

A major problem with the above approach is that willingness to buy and willingness to advocate for a particular solution are not always the same. A CEB study of 600 B2B buyers found that more than half of those willing to buy a product their organization needs were not willing to advocate for it in their organization. Hence, it is crucial to first overcome the barrier a potential champion has in terms of advocating for your products/solutions in their organization.

To overcome the barrier a would be champion has, it is important to first identify the barriers. Many companies make the mistake of thinking the barrier has to do with the value a solution presents to the champion's organization and spend more time trying to talk about the value of their product when the actual barrier is personal. CEB's study found that more than half of employees in a B2B company that are willing to buy a product/solution fear losing respect or credibility if they advocate for a product that is not as popular to other members of the team or advocate for a product that ends up being a disaster.

The right approach is to communicate the personal value of the product to the champion. The study found that "factors such as whether a solution could advance a person’s career or help him be seen as a better leader were five times as potent as the offering’s “business value”—things like superior product features, likely impact on business outcomes, or return on investment." Decreasing the champions perceived risk and increasing their perceived reward is vital.

Provide the Right Material

Champions who are motivated to advocate for a product may not have the required skills to do so. If they are unable to convince other members of the decision making body to purchase a product, they won't be able to help an organization close a sale. To prime a sales champion, it is important that they have the right marketing material that will enable them to navigate typical sales objection. In other words, champions need to have similar materials as members of your sales team but one that is specifically tailored to them as internal champions. This is easier said than done as it takes on average about three months for a sales representative to have enough training to close sales by themselves. It goes without saying that a sales champion in a customer's organization won't have the same level of training as members of the B2B organization's sales team.

Champions simply can't sell a product as well as your sales team and if possible it is worth it to try to convince the champion to let a member of your own sales team join in when the champion is recommending your product to the decision maker. There are subtle ways to handle objections the champion may have. However, if you can't be there when the champion is advocating for your solutions, the next best thing to provide them with a brochure that handles all the typical objections and to ensure they have all the information they need.

Creating content that will help champions understand the solution better and handle possible objections from their own organizations will help them improve the sales process.

Champion-Focused Approach

Another key strategy is to have a more champion-focused approach aimed at individual champions. The approach should be about encouraging champions to to speak up when you are not there and be an advocate for your product.

An example of a company that does this effectively is quoted below: "Holcim, a global supplier of cement and related products and services for the construction industry, uses a simple and effective tactic to do this. As a component of its sales operations, Holcim regularly surveys people throughout its customers’ organizations to collect Net Promoter Scores (which gauge willingness to recommend a product or a company). If an account manager encounters a potential advocate for a new offering at an existing customer, a Holcim rep can present that person with NPS data from other functions that demonstrate broad support for Holcim’s offerings. Reps report that advocates are often unaware of allies within their organization until they see the NPS numbers and say that the data gives those allies confidence to promote a purchase."

The above example is important because a study of over 3,000 B2B employees showed that willingness to advocate for a solution doubled when employees perceive that there is broad support for the solution in their organization.

Target Multiple Champions

Buying decisions in various B2B organizations increasingly require approval from multiple groups. A survey of over 5,000 B2B stakeholders found that on average, 5.4 people have to sign off for every purchase in an organization. The idea is to target multiple stakeholders in the prospective customer's company. This makes it likely to have more than one champion in the prospective customer's organization. This is often referred to as account-based selling and the idea is that "instead of one salesperson targeting a single contact within a company, an entire team is dedicated to targeting multiple stakeholders at the prospective customer’s company."

For this to approach to be effective, it is important that the marketing and sales team work together from the very beginning. In fact, some experts recommend cross-department coordination, where the different teams such as Sales, Customer Success, Sales Development, Marketing, Engineering, Finance, Product, and the C-suite must be aligned.

One of the common objections champions give when a sales representative suggests being in the meeting where the champions recommend the company to their C-Suite executives that sign make the purchase decision is that the executives don't want to deal with sales representatives from various companies. One way to get around this objection is for the sales team to communicate to the champion that he understands that and to pull the "CEO/C-suite executive card" in such moments. Something as simple as saying “I get that your CEO doesn’t want to talk with account managers from all these different vendors. And because this deal is so important, and your CEO will be involved in making a decision, I’ll bring in our CEO. That way they can talk together and have a meaningful conversation” can be the difference when making an important sale. However, a sales rep won't be able to make such a move if there is no synergy in the first place.

This approach is great when selling to large B2B business but may not be as good when the target market is small businesses where the deal size may be less than $50,000. It is also best for organizations that deal with B2B companies where the number of decision makers is substantial. The greater the number of stakeholders, the greater the needed for the marketing team, customer success managers, and the sales team to work together and identify and cultivate more internal champions.

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Marketing Automation - Importance

We have provided five detailed insights into why marketing automation is important and what the expected results should be. The insights include saving time on recurring tasks, leveraging CRM to maximize ROI, generating quality data analytics on customer behavior, more predictability and consistency, and delivering personalized experiences at scale. The ultimate expected result of marketing automation is improved financial performance.

Importance and expected results of marketing automation

1. Saves time on recurring tasks

Applying automation to the most repetitive marketing tasks like emails, social media posts, and website updates frees up more time to focus on marketing strategy and other critical tasks. According to a report, automation of social media posts can save over six hours per week and the use of a marketing automation tool can save 80% of the time spent on scheduling of content and workforce management.
As marketing automation technology keeps advancing, recurring and redundant tasks would require lesser time so marketers can commit more time to strategic planning and solving problems. Marketing automation can be used for practically any task which doesn’t need the active involvement of humans. This leads to improved productivity and greater efficiency.

2. Leverages CRM to maximize ROI

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are used by companies to maintain contact with their customers. When CRM tools are combined with marketing automation tools, they generate greater value. “Marketing automation technology helps to harness customer data and turn it into concrete marketing actions”.
A research study by SessionCam found that 89% of CRM users have integrated it with their marketing automation solutions for enhanced management of data and simplification of process.
When CRM activities like automation of “cross-sells, up-sells, and customer follow-ups” are combined with marketing automation operations such as improved lead management and prioritization, it leads to a much higher return on investments (ROI) from sales activities in addition to increasing the lifetime value of customers.

3. Quality data analytics on customer behavior

Marketing automation helps to gather data from several marketing channels and provides a bird’s-eye view through which customers can be analyzed. Analytics like “open rates, track responses, and optimize subject lines” are easily gathered and tracked through email to maximize conversions. Data can also be collected through push notifications “based on detailed mobile a/b tests” to optimize conversions. Marketing automation tools can also optimize content for conversions.
Through marketing automation, marketers can evaluate the effectiveness of their previous and current campaigns, and predict the strategies that would be more effective in the future. The valuable intelligence collected by a company through marketing automation could also be processed later and used to nurture people.

4. More Predictability and Consistency

Marketing automation enables companies to deliver the “relevant marketing message at the right time through the right channel” in order to retain their customers for a longer duration. This is achieved by generating micro strategies at the proper stage in the customer journey and automating them.
It becomes much easier to predict results which reflect on recurring revenue when messaging consistency is established. Through marketing automation, processes are created and intelligent systems are leveraged in order to predict how many leads are needed to attract a customer. It projects how much is required to be spent on advertising in order to obtain a customer or close a deal. “Marketing automation affects the efficiency of the entire marketing chain and it directly correlates with the important metrics in marketing”.

5. DeliverS personalized experiences at scale

Around one-third of marketers in a survey stated that personalization would be the most important marketing function over the coming years. A study by eMarketer found that 48% of marketers in US retail stated that personalization implemented on their websites or apps led to increase in revenues by over 10%. Through marketing automation, specific messages can be crafted to meet the unique needs of every customer. Content which resonates with the customer’s behavior can be created during the lead nurturing process and it can be automated to be sent in response to the specific behavior of the customer.
A content strategy which includes personalization is a tactical necessity. It is important to have personalization at the beginning of engaging a marketing automation tool in order to promote healthy growth and increase revenue. Marketing automation has provided marketers with the long-awaited solution through which effective personalized and targeted communications can be implemented.


From the above insights which show the importance of marketing automation, it is expected to lead to improved financial performance. Even a little investment in marketing automation could produce outsized returns which can move a business to greater heights. According to a survey by Salesforce, 82% of marketers reported a positive return on investment (ROI) through marketing automation. They also said that it makes them to become more efficient. While the intermediate expected results of marketing automation include generating leads, building brand awareness, and retaining existing customers, it should ultimately lead to higher revenues.
The results of marketing automation should become evident in less than 30 days after execution. For example, a company having “sales in the low millions per year” should experience an increase in sales of around 10% annually. The investment in marketing automation that should lead to this result is between 2% to 5% of total revenue.

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Companies Integrating Marketing into Sales

Dell EMC created a new organization called ‘Dell Technology Select’ that would directly engage and support its largest chief information officers (CIOs). FedEx, on the other hand, sought to optimize and streamline its newsletter curating process by quickly communicating new service offerings to its customers, target prospective clients, and penetrate new client bases. Lastly, O2, having entered the B2B space relatively late, had to establish an initiative that combined its marketing expertise with sales customer insights resulting in a highly effective ABM initiative to enable it to compete with industry giants serving Europe and the whole world.


In finding examples of B2B sales-focused companies who have successfully integrated elements from the marketing department into the sales process, we started by examining marketing reports and case studies by leading marketing organizations and associations. We came across a report by Business LinkedIn that featured three case studies of companies that successfully integrated elements from the marketing department into the sales process along with other reports published by CRN (technology and IT solutions news agency), Stevie Awards (American Business Awards organization), Customer Gauge, Transportation Marketing and Sales Association, and B2B Marketing.

The report by Business LinkedIn featured 2016 data regarding Dell’s marketing and sales integration efforts; however, we used it to supplement recent marketing and sales integration for its subsidiary Dell EMC. These sources featured both qualitative and quantitative data on the subject and supported by assertions from company marketing executives. Below are elaborate details of three examples of B2B sales-focused companies who have successfully integrated elements from the marketing department into the sales process.

1. Dell EMC

Dell EMC, a subsidiary of Dell technologies, started integrating its sales and marketing functions to help its clients with cloud and IoT. Dell EMC seeks to exploit its massive size and reach to help businesses with digital and IT transformations. To support its customers’ needs, Dell EMC created a new organization dubbed ‘Dell Technology Select,’ that would directly engage and support its 3,500+ the largest clients’ CIOs. The company also announced that it would have fully integrated its sales and marketing teams by February 2018, noted Dell EMC’s chief marketing officer — Jeremy Burton.
Previously, before Dell acquired EMC, Dell had aligned its sales and marketing teams to define its consumers’ buying cycles to optimize the most appropriate content to share with them. The company would then organize the content and deploy the best automation tools to help them to best engage with customers. Through this approach, Dell could keep working the not ready prospects while engaging them with their products. Ultimately, Dell created massive content, and through its automation tools, it continually engaged its prospects resulting in over “18,000 global modular content elements” with 1,200 assets including 25 solution topics for 10 global programs.

In the long-term, Dell realized a “35% higher average order value for nurtured contacts versus non-nurtured contacts.” Additionally, the contacts resulted in over 300% personalized nurture emails engagements compared to traditional “push” messages. The company also won coveted awards for its program and content, including “Demand Gen Report’s Killer Content Award and Oracle’s Markie award.”

2. FedEx

While FedEx serves individual consumers, it is still a B2B company delivering shipments for 100,000s businesses every day. It is ranked 10th in Sacunas' Top 100 B2B Brands list. FedEx sales team works with its marketing team on market research to gain a competitive edge in quickly communicating new service offerings to its customers, target prospective clients, and penetrate new client bases. Both teams also work to enhance the company’s reputation globally as a reliable and trustworthy brand. Also, FedEx Sales enriches Marketing with the essential resources and supporting tools for customer meetings to boost the “brand’s equity globally, industrially, and environmentally.”
Previously, FedEx relied on five independent agencies to produce its newsletter content. Unfortunately, the content resulted in no significant measurable impact.Additionally, due to massive production, some customers could receive up to 13 unnecessary emails. The high volume of unwanted emails reaching the clients exemplified the lack of proper alignment among the responsible teams, i.e., marketing, sales, and content agencies. FedEx then decided to align its marketing and sales efforts to streamline internal communication. It also decreased new content creation from 80% to 20% and distributed the workload among the marketing and sales teams. Moreover, every level of the marketing and sales teams got involved in the creation and recycling of content.
Eventually, FedEx improved its internal communication around the newsletter that resulted in better external communication with clients. The integration of FedEx marketing efforts into the sales process generated double-digit revenues from subscribers while mitigating expenses. For instance, one team’s A-B test showed that one image had the potential of delivering up to 30% increase in conversions. FedEx claims that the new program dubbed Go! Resulted in around 80% in-house curated content and made email a powerful amplification channel.

3. O2

O2, while a predominantly having a portfolio of ICT services for individual consumers and businesses, launched a B2B enterprise division in 2011 that supplies ICT services to UK’s public sector and organizations with 2000+ UK-based employees. To compete with established companies in the B2B segment, O2 created an initiative that combined its marketing expertise with sales customer insights resulting in a highly effective 'account-based marketing' ABM initiative. The program solely focused on directly and clearly speaking to its target clients with a core focus on aspects that revolved around O2’s business priorities. By analyzing both sales and marketing data, O2 realized that due to its significant mobile brand, it still faced low brand recognition in the B2B segment.

To address the low brand recognition problem, O2 used the ABM strategy to complement its conventional marketing efforts with highly-personalized content curated around accounts and industry insights from the sales team. With tailored content for each account, sales obtained more strategic conversations and, ultimately, closed more businesses. In its transformation journey, O2 adopted the ‘Challenger Sale’ model to take control of the customer journey by sharing informing and tailoring communication to them and positioning itself as an expert in the segment. In the end, the marketing efforts resulted in highly targeted lists of customers across all industries.

Overall, the ABM initiative sought to acquire 40 accounts, which it successfully did. These accounts generated "opportunities in 33% of target accounts and millions of dollars in closed deals. Since the inception of the program, “O2 has won 325% of target business; 118.1% total return on investment to written business; 313% of target pipeline;19 BANT c-level qualified leads; 39 new c-level contacts, and 67.5% SQL conversion rate.”

From Part 03
  • "Starting February 6, Dell EMC will see its sales and marketing teams fully integrated, he said. It is the last organization within the company to be integrated, he said."
  • "That integration will be important as Dell EMC looks to take advantage of its scale to help customers going through massive transformations, including a move from native applications to the cloud, on-premises infrastructures to off-premises infrastructures, and traditional infrastructures to converged infrastructures, Goulden said."
  • "By developing personalized content and working to align sales and marketing, Dell has won coveted awards for its content, including Demand Gen Report’s Killer Content Award and Oracle’s Markie award."
  • "Describe the nominated sales organization's top 3 accomplishments during the eligibility period (up to 100 words): • Increased marketshare across all segments • Significant yield improvements across all segments • Development of value-added solutions that enhanced the competitiveness of our customers worldwide"
  • "FedEx benefits from its good internal and external communication. One notable example is how the company recently reworked its newsletter production and execution."
  • "The company decreased new content output from 80 to 20 percent, distributing the work between just two teams. Every level of the marketing department now participates in the creation and recycling of content, leading to better internal communication around the newsletter, and in turn, better external communication with customers. "
  • "Prior to the new approach, FedEx had five agencies creating 80% new content for each monthly newsletter. The revenue derived from the newsletter was barely enough to break even."
  • "O2 launched its enterprise division in 2011 to compete in the crowded B2B space. O2 Business supplies ICT services to enterprise organisations with 2000+ UK-based employees, and the public sector."
  • "Despite a diverse portfolio of ICT services, O2 continued to face low brand consideration beyond mobile. This perception prevented the company from being seen as strategic ICT partners, and therefore suppressed growth opportunities. O2 needed a step change in how it communicated with customers and made itself relevant to its target audience."
  • "O2 Business operates across all verticals and offers solutions far beyond mobile devices, encompassing enterprise managed mobility, unified communications, converged infrastructure, security, IoT and cloud solutions."