The sales and marketing integration roadmap

The sales and marketing integration roadmap

{Drive Your Brand: part 1}


For the first part of our Drive Your Brand series, we’ll cover the process of plotting out how your external audience interacts with your brand. Each white paper in this four-part series will cover an individual topic worth considering as you build and strengthen your technology brand. 

Mapping the buyer journey

For innovative technology companies to reach the pure nirvana of sales and marketing alignment, you should first conduct a full and honest brand assessment. You can’t get where you’re going until you know where you stand — and the brand assessment process documents where your brand stands currently and starts to map out where you want to go. A key piece of brand assessment is mapping out your buyer journey.

Build customer profiles for each distinct buyer journey.

Buyer journey maps are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It’s critical to make sure you first understand the unique buyer journey for each customer profile. The journey a Japanese manufacturer takes to buy a 3D printer for jewelry might look very different than that of a multi-generational, family-owned jeweler in North America. 

If you identify only one buyer journey, you’re either very highly specialized (that’s good), or you’re too broadly generalizing your buyers (that’s bad). Likewise, if you identify too many journeys, you’re either offering many things to many people or your journeys are getting too specific.

Each industry varies somewhat. We have a number of clients who need to consider buyer journeys on two levels: one, the dealers or VARs who sell their products, and two, the actual end-user. Different sales regions or market classes might also warrant their own buyer journeys.

Know your known knowns and your known unknowns.

Ideally, you’ll have accurate customer profiles and enough sales data to map out your buyer journeys — at least anecdotally. Be cautious here not to build buyer journeys based on broad assumptions. Identify what you know and what you don’t. For instance, you might know how most potential buyers find you, but not how they go about comparing you to the competition.

If some steps along your buyer journey remain mysterious at this point (known unknowns), indicate those in your map and look to gain that data through upcoming sales. You might even be able to interview past customers and backfill some data. 

Innovative technology buyers tend to follow this path:

Buyer journey map, Toolbox Creative, Innovative tech marketing

1. Awareness

Before any buyer buys, they need to first become aware of two things: one, they have a problem, and two, you might have the solution. If they don’t know they have a problem, they’re just browsing. If they don’t know you exist, they’ll go on to buy elsewhere. Advertising, web identity and SEO efforts are geared at building awareness.

2. Interest

Effective marketing doesn’t just make buyers aware of your brand, it also gives them a reason to care about you. Here, customers start to qualify themselves in or out and whittle down their list of potential sellers. Content marketing, infographics and webinars can be effective at this stage.  

3. Consideration

Buyers have articulated their problem and are actively considering a small number of sellers. Thought leadership via eNewsletters works well here. Traditionally, this is when a warm lead turns hot and gets passed from the marketing department to the sales department.   

When marketing and sales are not aligned, buyers at the consideration stage can fall through the cracks

buyer journey with marketing and sales silos

4. Intent

The buyer expresses some level of intent to buy, but is looking for a reason to choose you over the competition. White papers can help close the deal at this stage. 

5. Evaluation

The buyer evaluates your offering against that of a few competitors. They may be comparing concrete elements like price and tech specs. They’re likely also analyzing less tangible elements like the ethos, reputation and stability of your brand. Face-to-face time, case studies and testimonials can bring home the sale at this stage.

6. Purchase

The buyer commits. The deal is closed. Everybody does the happy dance. The buyer journey does not end here, however. In a lot of ways, the hard work has just begun. When you deliver as promised, you have a powerful opportunity to delight and retain your customers — turning them into powerful advocates for your brand. 

You have a powerful opportunity to turn new customers into powerful brand advocates

Aligning marketing and sales shortens sales cycles, makes tracking marketing efforts easier and builds brand equity.

The old model, (shown below) illustrates the challenge when marketing and sales work in their individual silos. Often the two departments articulate your brand story in distinctly different ways. Sales folks think your marketing materials are useless to them. Marketing folks think the sales folks are renegades that won’t toe the line.

when marketing and sales are not aligned

When you consider your sales and marketing departments not as individual silos, but interlocking parts, you start to boost your bottom line and build brand love. As the model below indicates, marketing will continue to do the heavy lifting up front and sales will always close the deals, but each department is there for the other throughout every step of the buyer journey.

marketing and sales alignment, Toolbox Creative, Fort Collins Tech Marketing

Sales and marketing alignment empowers sales personnel to help shape the brand voice and support marketing efforts before they get off the ground. Marketing personnel gain a better understanding of actual customers and can track the efficacy of their efforts throughout the entire buyer journey.   

marketing and sales alignment, Toolbox Creative, Fort Collins Tech Marketing

A shared responsibility, a mutual benefit

Sales and marketing have an equal, shared responsibility to help guide the buyer through their journey. When both can clearly see their role along the entire journey, sales and marketing get out of their silos and get to work. All sales and marketing efforts should be designed to perform a specific function along the buyer journey: educate, inspire and reassure. 

1. Educate

As potential buyers start to understand their problem and seek solutions, you’ve got a golden opportunity to position your brand as the experts in the space.   

2. Inspire

Once they know you exist, they need a reason to care. How will you make their lives easier? Do your values align with theirs? How will you help them change their world?

3. Reassure

Break down barriers to sale, address risk aversion, convince them you’ve got heart, brains and skin in the game.
Read our next installment, brand assessment, where we dive deep into our proven process for analyzing and optimizing sales and marketing alignment.

About Toolbox Creative:

At Toolbox Creative, we’re dedicated to bridging the gap between the science of science and the art of selling it — building love connections between technology brands and the customers that love them.

Toolbox Creative offers a powerful engine to grow technology brands and take on the big players in the field. We help innovative technology companies look and sound as good as they truly are, increasing brand equity, boosting media buzz and making the most of marketing dollars.