by Mathias Johnson
Any time we look to change the status quo, there will be roadblocks, hurdles, and growing pains. But when it comes to aligning internal organizations in marketing and sales (and customer service), the struggle can pay off hugely. But no organization and no leadership should be looking to make these changes and shift internal processes without looking to how it can be done most effectively and efficiently – that’s a no-brainer. This is why digital transformation is not only critical for successful marketing and sales alignment, but it should in fact be a primary focus – then the alignment will come more easily.
Digital transformation means better customer insights
At last month’s Adobe Experience Maker’s Live virtual event, Chris Parkin, Senior Director at Adobe walked us through “Redefining the Future with Digital Transformation”. In his presentation, he showed us how Adobe is adapting through new digital technologies and approaches, and how other Adobe customers are as well.
In his first point, he showed how digital transformation allows for a “deeper understanding of the customer,” discussing that in doing so, we can identify “specific customers and audience segments, understand behavior, and anticipate actions.” This, in turn, allows us to “use data to generate actionable insights and improve customer outcomes.”
So what does this mean in terms of marketing and sales alignment? Well for starters, we can better track customer journeys from (MQLs) to SQLs to SALs. This allows us to see patterns, and then make predictions which can help us to do more aligned activities from how we build website/digital sales funnels and email marketing campaigns, to how we can more accurately identify the activities that lead to conversions through all stages of the journey.
This makes the handoff of a prospect between marketing and sales seamless. When we have the tools to measure what our prospects and customers are doing, what they may need, and what their intentions are, we can more accurately service them and allocate resources and time from the appropriate department in ways that aren’t putting our teams into the competition. Instead, real-time digital touchpoints and customer insights can help us to foster a more solid partnership as we work together towards common goals in conversions.
Digital transformation means accurate content delivery
Another theme throughout the Experience Maker’s Live event was content. Now, more than ever, content is at the center of how you service prospects and customers, showcase your company’s knowledge and insights and motivate stronger customer relationships and trust.
But it’s not enough to just produce content. You may have a hypothesis about what your customers may want and need, but most importantly, digital transformation allows you to not only know for sure what your customers are looking for, but it helps you deliver that content exactly when they need it.
In Chris’ second point, he discussed “Agile Communications” for modern businesses, which underscores the need to “increase proactive, personalized and timely communications aligned to customer and employee context” which is based on segment, need, and location, to name a few. The results? “Increase employee engagement and customer retention.”
Especially in our current economy and with the limitations we are facing, digital delivery of highly relevant and personalized content can make or break your success with a prospect or customer, and this accounts for all stages of the customer journey. It’s not just marketing’s job to create digital assets for lead generation and nurturing for sales when sales need to increasingly provide accurate content to help customers all the way through the decision-making process.
Digital tools like Marketo Engage help marketing and sales teams track the content that has been shared with prospects and customers. They also help establish clear next steps, answer questions in a timely way, and provide exceptional service even before the purchase has been made. This again allows for alignment internally in ways that see all employees in customer-centric roles supporting each other in enabling the customer through useful, relevant, and timely content.
Digital transformation means creating new ways of working
You’ve likely heard the term “unprecedented times” so much recently that you’re sick of it. But it is one of the best ways to describe what we’re collectively going through: a widespread fundamental shift in not only how we do business, but how we work. Most of us are learning as we go, adapting on the fly, and finding out through rapid trial and error what works and what doesn’t. And while we’re busy finding the new norm in our own work lives, our customers are experiencing the same. The companies that embrace digital transformation, are the ones who are continuing to succeed.
In another of Chris’ points, he described the “new ways of working” in which we must “leverage remote collaboration, workflows, and meeting platforms.” He also said we need to “use common tools to democratize data, content publishing, and leverage AI for scale.”
When it comes to marketing and sales alignment, this becomes blatantly apparent. Collaboration is imperative for success, and gatekeeping, while it may have happened before, cannot stand. Organizations that are able to efficiently move all operations online can see an increase in communication channels when the usual in-person, informal channels are unavailable. But perhaps this is a good thing. We can see how digital transformation of marketing and sales alignment allows for a more tightly run ship: less information slips through the cracks, accountability is more difficult to run from, and unified systems and tools ensure everyone is on the same page.
While digital transformation is nothing new, our current time has forced many of us to speed up adoption in ways we could have never anticipated. But rather than fear the change, or struggle to adapt, we should look at how it actually enables us to achieve important internal milestones, especially when it comes to marketing and sales alignment.
Mathias Jonsson works for Exelement, a partner of Marketo Engage.