Marketing and Sales Operations for Industrial Manufacturers

Ed Marsh | Apr 20, 2022

Marketing and Sales Operations - Two Important Roles Missing at Industrial Manufacturers

Introduction to SignalsFromTheOP

Guide to episode

  1. Industrial companies can leverage revenue growth "best practices" from tech sales.
  2. Advances in digital marketing and sales rely on technology and work that's new to most companies. There are new tasks and more work.
  3. Marketing operations and sales operations are two roles/functions that are often necessary for implementation and success.
  4. New requirements require new skills - here's how sales and marketing operations fit in.

Transcript follows:

I often refer to the lessons that industrial companies can learn, and best practices to adopt, from technology and SaaS sales models. Investor expectations and the ability to scale, force tech companies to think creatively about how to optimize marketing and sales.

Industrial Marketing and Sales Lessons Learned from Technology

Industrial companies can learn from that in areas of digital demand generation, account-based marketing, and broad content marketing. Additionally, customer success and onboarding are great opportunities for industrial companies to innovate based on tech best practices.

And of course, sales is an area rich with opportunities to coopt evolving best practices. These include BDR and SDR models, team selling, pipeline qualification, and sales cadences.

Further, integrating sales and marketing as I recommend (Overall Revenue Effectiveness™) creates yet more opportunities at the nexus of the two. Sales enablement and first-party intent – or reading prospect website, email, and social – are examples.

The upside is the revenue opportunity – faster growth, stronger margins, shorter sell cycles, more efficient sales process, more accurate forecasts, and more. The downside is that these take work, processes, and technology that aren’t necessarily part of the traditional industrial manufacturing revenue growth org chart.

New Skills, New Tasks, Additional Work

There are a lot of knobs to turn, screws to adjust, and pots to tweak. There’s more work, and there’s different work. Publishing blog posts, tweaking landing page forms to optimize conversion rates, segmenting and cleaning a database, and building automation are all examples.

Those don’t fit well into the traditional staffing model where we normally see a marketing team of 2-3 – even for companies of $150-250MM, and a field sales force for direct sales and channel sales management of 20-30.

So companies that are eager to leverage the benefits of a buyer-friendly process, technology, and tech sales best practices have to also then learn some lessons about the organizational and resource requirements from the companies that do these well.

Marketing operations and sales operations are two roles, or in some cases functions with more than one person in each, that are examples of this. If yours is like most industrial companies you don’t currently have these functions. So let’s look at what they do and why they’re important if you’re on a journey to grow revenue by modernizing your approach.

What Are Marketing Operations and Sales Operations?

Marketing operations is a term that refers to the people, processes, skills and technology that combine to implement a company’s marketing strategy and improve results.

Sales operations is “a planning and execution role for numerous ‘back office’ sales functions including data management, sales enablement, business development, forecasting and market analysis, developing and reporting on metrics and KPIs, account prioritization, target account identification, territory management, compensation plan design, technology management, sales process design, as well as prospecting and qualifying.”

Now, on the one hand you may say “We already have these.” And at some level, you’re right. You probably have someone in marketing that acts as the primary contact for trade show logistics and trade journal advertising. And your sales manager or VP of sales probably spends a bit of time thinking about territory, account assignments, target accounts and compensation.

However, the real opportunities for efficiencies come from a much more detailed, comprehensive and rigorous approach to a broader range of functions. Some examples will help to illustrate.

Examples of Marketing and Sales Operations Responsibilities

If you don’t have chatbots and live chat configured on your site for conversational marketing and conversational sales, you’re missing an important opportunity to improve buyer experience, increase conversions and shorten sales cycles. But it’s not enough to simply have a bot on your site. You need customized bots for many pages – designed to provide relevant experience depending on the page. For instance, we can infer very different intent from a visitor on the “pricing” page vs. one on the “careers” page. Someone must plan and build those bots.

Taking it a step further, what if a visitor on a product page is from a competitor, vs. a target account, vs. an open opportunity vs. a current customer? You’d have a different conversation in each case if you were in person. So should your chatbots. But planning and building those takes work, as does managing the technology to immediately alert the right person on your team for each case.

Another example would be sales force automation. It now takes more touches to reach an inbound lead. Many suggest >7. A sales cadence, or sequence – in other words, a preprogrammed series of steps that can be launched by a rep or on their behalf to run automatically – helps increase meeting conversion rates and improve rep efficiency. But various cadences must be built – from writing email templates to building the automation to training reps on how to use them.

And finally, while your sales and marketing team may agree on a definition for your ideal customer profile (ICP) and typical buying team roles, someone has to manage the database to make sure that companies and contacts are properly categorized and continue to be so in an ongoing and dynamic way.

Those are just a couple basic examples of the type of tasks that marketing operations and sales operations undertake in a mature revenue generation program. You can combine some functions with other roles. For instance, a marketing person that owns the marketing and CRM database management could do also manage database access and lead definitions.

Marketing and Sales Functions

But these are also, at their core, manufacturing marketing and industrial sales functions rather than technology ones. They require expertise and savvy in the discipline – otherwise, you end up with well-automated rubbish.

The bottom line is that as you work to improve your buyer experience, industrial digital marketing, and capital equipment sales effectiveness, marketing technology plays a key role. That technology needs to be optimized – both its function and also the range of new capabilities it enables.

Marketing operations and sales operations are important functions to achieve that and therefore important additions to the typical industrial manufacturing revenue team.

I’m Ed Marsh. Thank you for joining me for this episode of Signals from the OP. If you enjoyed it, please share it and subscribe – either to my YouTube channel EdMarshSpeaks.TV or at the related blog