Ensuring your marketing & sales integration pilot test delivers proof of concept

by Marty Nicholas

In the first post of our series on using pilot programs as a tool for accelerating marketing and sales integration, we looked at the five key benefits a good pilot test should be able to deliver. However, despite these benefits, we’ve also regularly observed pilots that fail because their outcomes are not compelling enough, or because they do not earn enough attention from stakeholders. These pitfalls can largely be avoided by pursuing a highly relevant commercial objective that will prove the value of new ways of working and gain traction across the organisation. In today’s post, I’ll further address this topic and provide examples of specific business objectives across various industries.

Most of us are well aware of the obstacles that line the path to genuine marketing and sales integration – disparate strategic planning, cross-functional leadership, faulty communication lines, unscaleable content and siloed metrics – the list goes on. These are further compounded by the rise of the digitally-empowered customer, whose actions across diverse channels have created multiple new handover points between marketing and sales, and profound implications for how they need to work together.

Set your pilot up for success

Significant transformation spanning people, process and technology is required to facilitate the integration between these two critical divisions. Pilot programs are commonly used to test, prove and evolve these new ways of working and to effectively transition them into business-as-usual. To avoid failure and ensure the delivery of proof-of-concept, a good pilot should always be set up to distinctly prove the value of change - more specifically to prove a desired business objective. The objective should be one that delivers a relevant commercial outcome so that it will gain traction across the business.

The exact nature of the outcome may vary by industry and unique business context, but in the case of marketing and sales integration, a pilot should explicitly be able to show how an integrated execution engine can deliver more efficient or effective customer acquisition, growth or retention

Integrated Marketing & Sales Execution

Define your specific business objective

Below are three actual examples of carefully selected objectives across various industries that were highly valued in their business context:

  • Acquisition - a health science enterprise found that health care practitioners were increasingly too busy or less interested in meeting with their salespeople. They wanted their pilot to demonstrate how marketing and sales channels could work together to more effectively gain access to these potential customers.
  • Growth - a major bank needed to expand the share-of-wallet in a top-tier B2B segment. They wanted to prove that improving target account penetration through enhanced marketing and sales collaboration would be successful, and wanted to win investment for a broader transformation project.
  • Retention - a major telco had a large number of unmanaged segments, too small and fragmented to be cost-effectively serviced by salespeople. They set up their pilot to demonstrate how digital marketing could cost effectively retain this ‘long tail’ of customers, surface the best sales opportunities and improve net promoter score.
Know what you’re trying to prove

Set your pilot up for success by explicitly defining what you’re trying to prove. Then build your pilot program around a relevant commercial objective that is highly valued by the organisation. Crunch your numbers before, during and after your pilot so that you can effectively deliver results and gain the attention of executives and stakeholders across the business. Clearly demonstrating the value of new ways of working will earn you the right to invest in further initiatives.

Click here for more insights on marketing and sales integration pilots.