And at the end of the day, a direct line from marketing to new customer acquisition and revenue attainment will always trump pipeline.
While marketing typically spends a significant amount of time stewarding the brand and generating prospect interest at the lead generation stage, its role is often diminished as deals move into strategic discussions with prospective clients. Sales doesn’t necessarily think to leverage marketing support during the deal stage for client presentations, and fellow marketers sometimes refer to this type of support as “tactical” (which couldn’t be further from the truth). The end result is often a missed opportunity for both sales and marketing.
Why deal support matters for marketing:
I first discovered the impact marketing could make at the deal stage when working at a top global software company. We were recognized as one of the top 30 brands in the world, but our RFP responses at the time lacked visual and value articulation alignment with the brand. This gave marketing an opportunity to step in and create not only company templates, but modular extensions by customer use case, industries and LOBs that could be leveraged and adapted at scale.
Marketing deal support has had a powerful effect in presenting our small company as mighty enough to partner with some of the largest financial institutions in the world.
When I joined eOriginal as their Chief Marketing Officer, we had a similar opportunity to provide deal support value. This has had a powerful effect in presenting our small company as mighty enough in enterprise capability to partner with some of the largest financial institutions in the world. Recently, one of our current customers (a recognized leading automotive brand) so appreciated the professional level of our presentation to their team, that they asked us to help them create a presentation to their partner channel.
This not only strengthened engagement ties with our customer, but it also opened revenue opportunities for us to serve as the preferred partner to their partners.
Additional benefits to consider for marketing and sales to partner on deal support:
Strengthen the brand.
Marketers invest so much effort in communicating brand value upstream; however, it’s in the sales meeting that you are closest to a prospective customer and have the greatest opportunity to communicate brand value directly.
Open new doors.
Presenting your company’s vision to value in the most strategic, polished and personalized way possible can enable your sales team to secure more meetings with net new and C-level decision makers.
Elevate marketing’s role and knowledge base.
Being involved in strategic deal support enables marketing to be part of revenue-generating opportunities, not just front-end lead generation. Also, embedding marketing in real, live use cases advances the team’s knowledge of your target customer’s requirements and how to best map your company’s solution value.
Enhance sales productivity.
Sales has a large responsibility to meet quarterly quotas, manage existing customer relationships, maintain a predictable pipeline and orchestrate the playbook to position your company to win. The more marketing can enable sales with strong templates, content and opportunistic, customized support for priority deals, the more productive sales will be in their core responsibilities.
Create a culture of knowledge sharing.
Once this type of support gets off the ground, organic knowledge sharing starts to occur between sales, marketing, solution engineering, product and other functions. Best practice examples are shared and built upon to continuously evolve and improve customer facing assets and communications.
It’s in the sales meeting that you are closest to a prospective customer and have the greatest opportunity to communicate brand value directly.
Recommendations for before you start to enable deal support in your marketing organization:
When marketers begin supporting the deal process, it adds yet another responsibility among existing brand-to-demand activities, so it’s important to set priorities in terms of where these efforts should be focused.
Start with your company story.
Marketing is ultimately responsible to lead the development and evolution of your company story and key messaging pillars, as well as to ensure that your entire company is trained to tell the story in a consistent way. This is the foundational layer for all deal support.
Before initiating customized deal support, take some time to tag along on several sales pitches so that you can listen and learn. This is critical to ensuring that you incorporate real world customer inputs into the materials you create, and to ensuring that they articulate: a) why a prospective customer is seeking a particular solution, b) why they should consider you, and c) what is going to help them answer the question, “Why do I need this now?”
Make it scalable.
After you’ve created your company story, focus on modular and customizable templates (slides, charts, images, value props) that can deliver even greater value. For example, we created an Executive Perspective template that enables our sales team to plug a prospect’s organizational goals and values into an executive brief and strategically map those elements to our company’s strengths and values. We’ve also invested in an off-shore design house that helps us create high impact visuals to demonstrate our thought leadership. Our offshore team works on these literally while we sleep, arming sales with a time-to-respond advantage for prospective customer meeting opportunities.
Make it custom when it counts.
Provide custom support for strategically critical deals—those that are on the must-win list because they are a high-profile prospect, a top revenue opportunity or a prospective customer who can help open up a new vertical. In these cases, account-specific positioning, messaging and information, and visual design are worth the effort.
Make it repeatable.
As marketing or sales builds new presentations and assets, these are added to a knowledge repository and tagged by industry or use case. We also ask sales to send us their most successful presentations so that we can enhance them and syndicate them throughout the system.
Provide custom support for strategically critical deals—those on the must-win list as a high-profile prospect, a top revenue opportunity or who can help open up a new vertical.
Here’s the bottom line.
By enabling sales with a mix of strong templates to leverage and hands on content creation for priority customer meetings and presentations, marketing can play a central role in helping the company open more doors, close more deals and grow the business. And at the end of the day, a direct line from marketing to new customer acquisition and revenue attainment will always trump pipeline.