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The legacy approach to sales and marketing strategy continues to harm sales organizations and salespeople. These sales and marketing strategies worked well for a long time, but they eventually lost their effectiveness. Some of us selling during this period noticed buyers were no longer interested in the legacy conversation.

The buying process was no longer linear, and contacts that would have once agreed to what was a universal sales process resisted and refused to participate. Instead, they skipped some conversations and pursued others that were part of a different dialogue. At the same time, you could count on more stakeholders joining meetings. This complicated the process for both buyers and sellers right as the business environment became more complex and competitive.

The legacy approach to both sales and marketing was—and is—a conversation about why the client should buy your product or service from your company. Buyers and decision-makers need something more from the conversation, and salespeople who are trained to use these approaches repel their contacts. This is one of the main sales challenges.

The Continuing Misalignment of Sales and Marketing Strategies

Marketing engages in one-to-many communication. Selling is one-to-one, even if there are 13 stakeholders in the conversation. The salesperson is selling to a single company, while marketing is communicating to the total addressable market. Marketers are trying to create awareness, engagement, and the belief that the company and their product is right for the buyer. Salespeople are trying to create enough value in the sales conversation that the company's task force buys from them.

The salesperson and their contacts both have a problem with the sales slide deck that begins with facts about the company's history, including a picture of their corporate office and a map of their many locations. Those four or six slides are followed by even more slides that present a set of logos designed to prove the company is a good and successful company. Not to be outdone, product owners include pictures and fact sheets about their latest update to the core product or service.

If someone was watching this horrible first meeting, they might believe the salesperson believes the one with the most slides wins. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This happens because the legacy approach of marketing and sales strategies are misaligned with what your prospective clients need. You need a new conversation starter.

Aligning Sales and Marketing Strategies

The conversation between buyers and salespeople changed a long time ago. If pressed to choose a date for this inflection point, I would offer 2001. The world was supposed to end at the beginning of the new millennium, but instead, the legacy approach to sales ended. The reason for this is that buyers, decision-makers, and stakeholders were not getting the help they needed to make good decisions and improve their results. Nothing in the legacy approach created the right level of value for these stakeholders.

For several reasons, including a recession, decision-makers focused on the outcomes they needed. The conversation about the salesperson's company was no longer useful. Instead, decision-makers wanted a conversation about how the salesperson and their product or service would generate the outcome the client organization needed.

This shift emerges in many ways. You might have had a contact tell you to get rid of your slide deck. You would also have been asked to answer every stakeholder's questions, many of which would be about how you would address the systemic problems and challenges your contacts had experienced. This conversation is a much more difficult, dynamic, and complex conversation. Nothing in a "why us" slide deck offered any help.

To align sales and marketing, marketing must provide the sales force with a different conversation. This conversation needs to address the forces and factors that are the root causes of the client's challenges in producing the outcomes they need to reach their goals.

The 4th Level of Value and the Future of Sales and Marketing Strategies

To align sales and marketing strategies, you need to start with what buyers need from both the sales and marketing conversations. One way to do this is by working backward from the strategic outcome. Beginning with the end state, you can work your way to the internal and external obstacles that prevent the company from producing the results they need. This requires consultative selling training.

We talk a lot about empathy in business with few working to understand their clients, their challenges, and what they might need from a sales organization. Those who do this work enable marketing and sales to create greater value in the conversation they have with their buyers. You can skip right past the legacy conversations with no one objecting or insisting you spend half of the hour-long meeting talking about your company and your products. Your contacts will find you compelling when you provide them with the conversation they need, one based on a value creation model.

Too few sales organizations provide their sales force with the training and the support they need to present themselves as an authority and an expert in producing the outcomes their clients need. By aligning the sales conversation with what clients need to know, the salesperson is able to create and win deals. They will also improve their average close rate by providing a better and more valuable client experience, one better than your competitors. You’ll also improve sales performance.

Ending the Misalignment of Sales and Marketing Strategies

For a long time now, we have described this shift from "why us" to "why change." This is no longer true. If you are sitting across the table from your prospective client, they already know they need to change. They don't know what they don't know. In a time of uncertainty, what buyers want most of all is certainty.

In 2017, I published The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales. I spent a whole chapter on the strategy of working to resolve the client's concerns. When marketing and sales can align around a conversation that provides their contacts with what they need to move forward, we'll have something like alignment.

Post by Anthony Iannarino on December 3, 2022

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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