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Words 2 Wow Founder Chris Conner (@words2wow) recently asked life science sales professionals if their marketing communications teams were giving them what they need to be successful – namely getting the right leads into the funnel and creating tools to help them bag the business.
Only 40% of the 24 respondents feel their organizations’ MarCom efforts are aligned with and supporting their sales goals. Appalling as this number may sound, I was unfazed. We at Forma see symptoms of this kind of disconnect all the time.
Chris makes some solid recommendations to help Sales and MarCom find common ground:
- identify, agree upon, and prioritize goals based on business unit objectives
- create marketing personas for your target customers and your ideal sales lead
- invest in marketing automation
- develop a content marketing plan – quickly, but completely!
So let’s say your Sales/MarCom teams heed Chris’ advice and come away with a solid set of goals and personas after completing the first two bullet points. Then what? Take a breather and consider the four basic types of Sales/MarCom misalignment:
Misalignment between your position and your audiences’ needs
Get inside the head of your target customer. Put yourself in the shoes of that ideal sales lead. What is it that they really need from their suppliers? What do they care about? What keeps them awake at night?
Then be honest: Do you have a competitive position – that is, what you stand for – that addresses those needs and concerns? If so, is it a clear, unique, authentic, sustainable, important, believable and compelling statement of benefits that you use internally to guide your Sales/MarCom effort? If not, head back to the conference room and start writing one.
Misalignment between your position and your brand-story
Let’s say that you’ve had a carefully crafted position statement in-hand for some time but have failed to gain traction. Answer me this: Is your position clearly articulated as a compelling brand-story – that is, does it really say anything? Does it differentiate you in the crowded life science marketplace? Is it interesting and convincing? It’s no easy task, but it’s critical to effectively engage with your audiences.
Misalignment between your brand-story and your touchpoints
So maybe your brand-story is spot on but it doesn’t look or sound unified or consistent across your website, capabilities presentations, brochures or trade show booth. This tactical disconnect could be corrected with an integrated communications plan to speaks to both your internal and external audiences.
Misalignment between your internal and external audiences and communications
Finally, are your personnel working and speaking from the same page – or even the same book?! Does each employee tell the same version of your brand-story, or have some been known to “wing” or even embellish it? Remember that your brand-story doesn’t begin and end with Sales/MarCom. Every employee is an ambassador for your organization, and an audience that hears a different version of your brand-story at every turn will end up confused, unconvinced, and potentially disinterested.
As Chris Conner suggests, realigning sales and marketing in the life sciences is a multi-step, multi-phased, and ongoing process. In my next blog, I’ll talk about the vital role that content marketing plays in bringing and keeping the Sales/MarCom functions together.