3 Ways AEC Firms Can Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment

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As the unrelenting wave of digital transformation washes over nearly every business, the movement has finally reached the notoriously traditional architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry and its customers, as well.

At the same time, the growth of omni-channel and transmedia marketing engagement strategies further complicate how marketing and sales teams nurture and engage customers through a journey to purchase.

The former aims to provide a seamless customer experience, regardless of channel or device or stage of maturity. While the latter is all about storytelling that “transports” a customer into a brand’s world, to forge a personal connection customers’ everyday lives across multiple media platforms.

Social media, online communities, interactive websites, emotive brand story videos, relevant and personalized content,  and other digital marketing channels now play a critical role in bringing brands into the customer’s purview.

In fact, when looking for an AEC firm that fits their needs, instead of asking for a personal recommendation, the first step for 75 percent of AEC prospects is an online search.

The question is: is your company’s marketing strategy up to the challenge? If your sales and marketing teams aren’t in sync, you’re not quite ready to embark on the journey to digital transformation. But the good news is, there’s a clear path to success, and this blog can help you get started.

Read on for the three questions your firm needs to ask, and answer, in order to align your sales and marketing teams, and start producing the attention- and business-grabbing campaigns that’ll grow your revenue.

1. Who do you want to do business with?

When it comes to zeroing in on your target customers, your management, sales and marketing teams need to be highly prescriptive in defining who you plan to sell to.

  • What is your ideal company profile?
  • Who are the key personas and job roles that will influence a purchasing decision?
  • What keeps those buyers up at night?
  • What are the most effective channels for engaging these buyers? Events? Social media?
  • Do we have relationships internally with the key buyers at the account?

For example, your ideal target customer may be the director of operations for a company with $200 million dollars in revenue who wants to start a building expansion project within the next six months. Knowing that your CFO used to work closely with the director of operations at a previous company could be very valuable intel.

Effective targeting goes beyond gathering demographic and behavioral data points. The best targeting is rooted in relationships.

When you combine marketing campaign data, behavioral data and a real-time relationship map of who knows who across your business, you’ll find a much faster way to drive new business at scale.

For instance, you might realize your most ready-to-buy prospects know two people within your extended network and interacted with your firm at least six times a month. Granted, this type of granularity would take a bit of time for data analysts to crunch the numbers. But with relationship intelligence tools like Introhive, the data is analyzed and shared with end users automatically.

Relationship analytics give you a line of sight into the target relationships that will really move the needle.

They highlight and visualize at a glance key prospecting factors, like company size and the typical number and level of people involved in purchase decisions. Plus, they can help you spot—and keep track of—activities that often predict success, like consistent engagement.

2. What’s your lead generation process?

Now that you’ve pinpointed your AEC firm’s ideal prospects, you’ll need to develop the processes that will generate the best leads for your sales team. Marketing needs to generate qualified leads for sales (i.e., they need to fit a target set by the sales team).

Unfortunately, 50 percent of initial prospects a sales team will pursue turn out to be a good fit for the company. There are a few things you can do to ensure you’re attracting the right audience.

The first phase is building top of funnel awareness. Marketing and sales can team up here to create content for their website that speaks to the different stages of a buyer journey. This content needs to be timely and relevant, speaking to the common pain points your buyers (outlined in step one) experience.

Someone unfamiliar with your offering may find value in an educational blog that outlines how a firm can solve a unique business challenge. Other buyers that are further along in their journey may want to see customer testimonial videos of how you solved that problem for someone else in the industry.

While you do want to sell yourself, your content also needs to also be educational, aiding in a potential client’s research. At this stage, you are building trust and establishing your firm as the thought leader in your space. If your stellar content helps answer a burning question, your firm is that much more likely to make a prospect’s short list.

And with 84 percent of AEC buyers reviewing a firm’s website during the buying process, it’s imperative you deliver a mobile-friendly experience, as well. Nothing can derail trust or confidence in your company like a poor experience with your website across different devices used by your buyers.

As your funnel starts to fill with quality leads, your marketing and sales teams need to work together to define a channel-based lead-generation strategy, which identifies critical milestones and lead hand off parameters for when marketing should hand off a lead to sales.

Different behavioral activities of buyers need to be treated and nurtured differently. Lead scoring models and a focus on high-quality data can help keep this transfer smooth and effective.

The sales team, meanwhile, will need expectations for lead follow-up time, lead-nurturing activities and supporting documentation to help them make their case.

3. How do you collaborate? And when?

If your sales and marketing teams are collaborating at all, you could consider your firm a bit ahead of the game. Nearly 70 percent of respondents in a B2B Sales and Marketing Collaboration Study said sales teams aren’t rewarded for supporting marketing objectives, and more than half said sales doesn’t follow up on 15 percent of marketing leads.

But there’s always room for improvement—especially if you want to beat out competitive firms for projects.

For their part, your sales team can help improve the effectiveness of targeting and outcomes by providing ongoing feedback about the quality of leads and possible marketing opportunities.

  • Are there certain job titles that speed up the sales process than others?  
  • Do certain types of marketing resources resonate well with prospects, like videos or infographics?
  • Where are the gaps in the firm’s sales and marketing materials that could increase market visibility and awareness?

Say, perhaps, they’ve noticed a lot of prospects have similar questions about your sustainability measures. That’s great content for a blog post, email, eBook, or another campaign.

Meanwhile, marketers can give their sales colleagues a heads-up on new initiatives and campaigns—and the thinking behind them—to help cultivate buy-in, excitement and ultimately sales enthusiasm that leads to growth.

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