Connecting The Dots In The Buyer Journey Requires Getting In The Mind Of A Sales Rep, Says SiriusDecisions’ Christina McKeon

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B2B buyers are increasingly expecting consumer-like experiences. In order for marketers to satisfy buyer needs and create a seamless journey, they must first ensure they are in tune with sales.

Christina McKeon, Service Director of Portfolio Marketing at SiriusDecisions, will dive into the details of achieving marketing and sales alignment during her B2BMX session, “Driving Better Buyer Interactions By Getting Inside The Mind Of A Sales Rep.” Ahead of the event, McKeon shared a sneak peek of her presentation with Demand Gen Report readers.

Demand Gen Report: The event theme this year is “seeing B2B through a new lens.” What advice would you give marketers looking to evolve their strategies and successfully change things up this year?

Christina McKeon: I would advise marketers to look at B2B through a single lens and ensure it’s the same lens that sales is using. There are still go-to-market disconnects between marketers and the sales force in the same organization — too many silos are getting in the way of aligning to how the buyer wants to buy from you. The best designed campaigns can only go so far on their own. Sales enablement, along with reputation and demand marketing programs, should be a foundational element of a campaign. Sales must be an extension of that campaign rather than an afterthought.

DGR: What trends are you currently seeing in sales enablement?

McKeon: One of the biggest trends I’ve seen is that marketing is developing more empathy and understanding for what the sales rep does and is changing their approach to sales enablement. This usually happens because the head of sales approaches the CMO and “asks” for marketing to take on more responsibility in this area. However, I also see savvy marketing leaders who are not waiting for sales leadership to ask and are instead asking their portfolio marketing leaders (e.g. product, solution, industry, services, marketing) to proactively work with centralized sales enablement functions. They want to understand the needs of the sales audience and design programs that will transfer knowledge to reps about markets, buyers, the provider company’s value, offerings and the competition. Imagine you’re a sale rep who is struggling to connect all the dots and have meaningful conversations with prospects and clients. Every time you fail, you look incompetent in front of yet another buyer who will likely tell you and your boss how disappointed they are that you have wasted their time. Addressing these knowledge gaps ensures that sales reps are comfortable and confident sitting down with buyers and maximizing each of these interactions.

DGR: Why is it important for marketing and sales to have a clear line of communication in this age of the buyer?

McKeon: The buyer wants one seamless buying experience from your organization. Labeling activities as marketing’s job or sales’ job doesn’t matter to them. In fact, when these silos surface in the buying cycle, it frustrates buyers. They know when marketing and sales aren’t connected by the different messages coming from the same organization. This can exasperate buyers because they want answers to their questions without having to ask multiple times or explain to the sales rep that they still haven’t answered the question. This is one reason why it is so important for marketing and sales to align early and often. Alignment should begin with the go-to-market strategy, so marketing, sales and even product teams are aligned on what segments and buyers to target. It then extends into being aligned on messaging, so the same buyer-focused messaging is delivered consistently through marketing programs and sales reps. It even goes into campaigns, so there is a coordinated and unified treatment of the buyer.

DGR: What advice would you give marketers looking to target reps according to their tenure and market situation they’re selling to?

McKeon: In the same way that you understand buyers based on their industry, region and role, it is critical to understand reps depending on their role, tenure and the market situation they are selling into. When it comes to rep tenure, there is an order of operations for transferring knowledge to sales reps. Newer reps must understand the buyer before they can tackle offerings and competition. More tenured reps are comfortable talking to buyers and instead require a deeper understanding of the offerings and how they uniquely meet a buyer’s needs. The market situation dictates what job aids sales reps across the buying cycle and when they need them. Hint: It’s not the same order for every market situation.

DGR: What else can attendees expect to learn from your presentation at B2BMX 2019?

McKeon: We’re going to dive into some brain science, so you can truly understand what sales reps (and all adult brains) are capable of retaining. We will also discuss how to take a programmatic approach that helps reps take ownership of their knowledge, so they apply it consistently and effectively in every deal. Lastly, we’ll share data from the SiriusDecisions 2018 Sales Talent study and focus on what sets high-performing reps apart from low-performing reps when it comes to knowledge and what marketing can do to enable more high-performing behavior.

DGR: What are you hoping to learn more about at B2BMX 2019? Are there any sessions you’re looking forward to?

McKeon: I’m looking forward to connecting with the B2B community and learning more about the best practices in place today. There are so many tempting case studies that I know I will want to be in multiple places at once!

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