Empowering Sales with the Interactive Buyer’s Journey

Justin Talerico, ion interactive co-founder

Justin Talerico, ion interactive co-founder

Here at ion, sales & marketing alignment should NOT be a problem. Why not? Well, because, the head of sales and the head of marketing are married co-founders of the company.

So last year, when Anna’s second in command on the sales team began surfacing sales & marketing alignment as a topic at our bi-weekly management meetings, my attention was guaranteed. Here’s the story of how and why his concerns were valid and how today’s announcement addresses those concerns (in a big way).

About a year ago now, ion broadened its platform and market by moving into the interactive content space. With that change, came our own crop of engaging, interactive tools designed to be both incredibly useful to our prospects and incredibly informative to our sales and marketing.

We nailed the first part…

…deploying interactive experiences that were useful and memorable at every stage of our buyer’s journey. However, the usefulness of the information we so painstakingly collected in those interactive experiences was lost in the shuffle.

I imagine the reasons will be familiar to many of you. First, we were moving fast (shameless plug: the ion platform makes that possible) — releasing a new experience every 2-3 weeks. So we were creating a lot of data — faster that we could figure out what to do with it. Once we did decide what data we wanted to move to our marketing automation and CRM platforms, we had the next wall to climb — how? We could mashup an experience’s data into a single field and move it easily to the MAP/CRM. Or we could replicate tens if not hundreds of fields one-by-one… I can hear you all groaning or even laughing out loud at that one.

But we had all this incredible data!

Data that we couldn't capture any other way than through an amazing digital dialogue that was taking place in our interactive content. And data, that in the hands of our sales team, could rock their world. Oh, and it was data that our buyers explicitly gave us. So they knew we had it. So if we didn't get it to our salespeople, we'd look (rightfully so) like idiots.

It was about then — as our sales team was blushing (and/or cursing the CEO/CMO’s name (mine)) on sales calls because they had no visibility into the buyer’s budget calculations, solutions built, self assessments taken or content pains — that we had a 'sales & marketing alignment' crisis to solve. We absolutely had to surface — in context, with relevance — all the explicit insights our buyers had given us. Sales had to know. And they needed the information stat.

Turns out, this is not an easy problem to solve…

…because field-level data solutions are out of context. And the context of engaging with these interactive tools is what makes the data relevant and meaningful. A coded response on a 1-5 scale to an abstracted question loses a salesperson’s attention is about a nanosecond. Put twenty of those in a row and you better stock up on Mountain Dew and NoDoz. 

But buyer response in the context of their original experience, including sales-specific coaching and background information is of high value to sales. The litmus test for sales usefulness is if they can use it instantly on a call.

Today, we’re announcing our Sell-Side solution to bridge the gap between a buyer’s digital journey and their transition to sales.

Recently our sales team has been much happier. (You may have read their Q1 results.) They’ve had an early prototype of our new Sell-Side feature running in Salesforce for awhile now. Their feedback has helped shape the final feature we’re shipping this quarter.

Sell-Side gives sales everything they need to pick up a personal conversation right where and when the digital dialogue left off. They can truly meet the buyer at the point of interest. The prices and budgets calculated, the configurations saved, the solutions built and the self assessments answered can all be leveraged to seamlessly usher the buyer to the next stage. To me, it’s lock-step alignment of the buyer’s needs surfaced by marketing for sales empowerment. And nothing’s lost in translation.