OOver the last 20 years, the way people research and buy products and services has changed dramatically. In the past, when your customers were researching the best equipment or crop inputs to buy, they might consult their family, friends or retailer, but they ultimately got the information they needed by talking to a sales rep. Today, with product details, technical specifications, pricing, availability, reviews and testimonials all easily available online, people seek out much of that “sales” information independently.
This shift isn’t unique to ag — a 2019 study by Cox Automotive found that the average number of customer visits to car dealerships prior to purchasing a new car have dropped from five to just one or two. But it’s not that customers are looking for less information; they are just finding that information online. This takes significant power away from the sales reps and puts it in the hands of the digital marketers. As a result, the marketing role is responsible for much more of the customer journey than ever before.
As influence shifts from the sales team to the marketing team, it is critical to renew our focus on team alignment. Although sales and marketing teams may be aligned on a high-level goal of growing revenue, they often are very divided on what needs to happen to make sales succeed.
Agriculture is no different. Farmers are customers, too, and our experience has shown that farmers want to be informed about their purchases prior to meeting with sales reps. That said, agriculture companies have been slow to adapt to this change: very few businesses are providing website content that helps farmers move beyond awareness and product interest.
This sales/marketing alignment is intended to bring both teams closer together and encourage collaboration by aligning the goal-setting process and creating dependencies and accountabilities between the two teams. The big question then becomes: how can we align our teams and our efforts to achieve maximum sales and marketing effectiveness?
By focusing on these three areas, your organization can take advantage of changing consumer behavior:
Soft skills can be the hardest piece to master. First, your teams need to have shared perspective of your customer (buyer personas are a great way to humanize your customers for your team), align around the same goals, and communicate using a shared language. These efforts bring your marketing and sales teams together as a unified front pushing towards common goals.
Recognizing that, in the digital era, you have less face time with your customers, you need to adapt your content to provide information throughout the buyer’s journey. There are so many questions that your customers have that likely aren’t being addressed on your website. Historically, many of these questions were being answered by the sales reps; now they are being answered by your competitors. By developing a content strategy that centers around key pain points throughout the buyer’s journey, you can ensure your customers are still getting the information they need and establish your brand as a trusted knowledge holder.
There are so many great tools available to help your team collaborate, extend reach and measure success. Marketing automation, prospecting, sales engagement, and CRM tools all bring a new level of sophistication to your organizations. These tools can provide deep insight into your customers’ needs, wants and behaviors, and extend the reach of your sales team, turning your sales and marketing team into a sales and marketing machine.
By focusing on your people, your content and your technology, you can create alignment around common goals, connect with your customers at scale, and improve the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts.