Aligning sales, marketing and operations to stay agile during the Covid-19 era

Jim Preston, VP EMEA sales, Showpad, explores how sales, marketing and operations teams can better work together and keep customers happy.

woman wearing face mask

Right now it seems as if the only constant is change – and nowhere is this more true than across supply chains.

We’ve all witnessed the bare supermarket shelves and hard to find everyday essentials, but this reality isn’t limited to consumer retailers. With closed factories and disrupted supply chains, many B2B organisations have been impacted as well.

Marketers play an important role in helping organisations adapt to this new reality – and doing so fast! But to be effective, marketers must work with teams across the organisation to develop appropriate, relevant messages and effectively equip the organisation’s customer-facing teams to set realistic expectations and deliver on the experience an organisation’s customers have come to expect.

Alignment Across the Organisation More Important Than Ever

It’s essential that marketers are aligned with counterparts across the whole of the organisation. From people in operations who have visibility over supply chain and delivery issues. Sales teams who are interacting with customers and can relay their feedback. To HR providing visibility into the workforce and any related issues.

This full view is extremely important to ensure you can deliver a deliberate, coordinated and customer-focused response.

Now more than ever before, sales and marketing teams need to be aligned with operations and what’s going on within the business or else risk sacrificing that customer experience. (There’s no sense in creating demand for and/or selling a product or service that is in low supply!)

But with the right communication channels in place, you can ensure the entire organisation is aligned and working in harmony.

Enabling the Org to Adapt Quickly

Build a (virtual) cross-functional team to deliver a coordinated and customer-focused response, ensuring all teams are working harmoniously. This team should include leaders from marketing, sales, operations, customer success and even HR to ensure that all problems (risks, supply chain issues, customer challenges, HR/safety issues) come to light and can be tackled swiftly.

Plan out scenarios once the team is built to establish actions and processes for multiple scenarios – from best to worst case – and leverage insights from across the organisation. For example, when the operations team sounds the alarm that you’re out of product A, how is this shared with the rest of the organisation and how should teams pivot their activities? For example, how can operations provide vital new customer talking points, how does marketing update assets and collateral, and how can HR create new training to bring sellers and marketers up to speed to talk about products B and C instead?

Listen to your customers to truly understand (rather than assume or predict) their challenges, how you can help, and adapt your messaging accordingly. By continuously analysing customer engagement with tracking, analytics and conversation, you can identify changing sentiments and needs, share accurate insights across departments and effectively tailor and personalise messages.

Use digital tools to also deliver those changes in messaging quickly and persistently. Tools, such as sales enablement platforms, allow marketers to deliver new messaging, content and even training materials to sellers for them to swiftly adapt to changing business needs and stay relevant with customers.

Keeping up appearances

At this time, pushing too hard for deals and sales could be perceived as insensitive. Instead, buyers, particularly in the world of B2B, will be open but looking for information, consultation – and often purchases. Marketing, sales, operations and other departments have to be working closer together than ever before so that customers are not receiving too much content, inaccurate information or poorly timed approaches, and to provide that expected customer experience.

This means it is about giving your customers what they want but also something that you know you can provide. Here, marketing in particular is instrumental. It needs to strike that fine balance and straddle the line between your business’ reality and the customer experience you deliver – and to do it fast.

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