As recently as five years ago, few would’ve predicted the unification of Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). They didn’t speak the same language, often with differing definitions of terms as fundamental as “what is a lead?” They fiercely competed for budget… the CSO wanting to hire more sales people and the CMO wanted to fund additional marketing programs. They blamed each other for shortfalls in revenue. The CMO was the creative type and the CSO was the customer relationship expert. Although they sometimes sat in adjacent offices, they couldn’t have been farther apart.

So, what has changed that will finally unite CMOs and CSOs? Answer…The buyers are back in control. Today’s post explains what this means and the four steps CMOs and CSOs must take (together) to stay relevant.

Five years ago, sales people had all the information that buyers needed. Buyers had to engage sales in order to get information and make informed decisions. Today, the proliferation and availability of companies’ product information on the Internet has put buyers back in the driver’s seat. Buyers today have seen your (and your competitors’) products on your website, read reviews on your company, seen a demo, downloaded white papers, attended a webinar, configured their solution, and probably reviewed pricing long before speaking with anyone from your sales team. In fact, many buyers, now referred to as Customer 2.0, have already made decisions prior to speaking with a single sales person.

So, how does sales and marketing get re-engaged with Customer 2.0 and influence the buying process? CSOs and CMOs have now been forced to work hand-in-hand to remain relevant to buyers, follow the buyer’s journey through the buying process, and find ways to influence the buyers though their exploration. Here are the steps they are taking, together.

Step 1 – Gaining visibility into this new buying process

Marketing Automation tools like SilverPop, Pardot, Eloqua, and Marketo, combined with sales automation tools like give companies the ability to track a buyer’s journey through this new buying process. The tools detect every click on your website, every white paper the prospect downloaded (from your company), every email they opened, every webinar and demo they registered for, as well as all the interactions with your sales team. And they do this for every prospect that in some measurable way engages with your company.

The thirst for customer data and the loss of the buying process control is forcing CMOs and CSOs to work together to find budget to purchase these analytics tools and sit together to agree upon a common language to understand what the numbers are saying.

Step 2 – Understanding Customer 2.0 buying behaviors

CMOs and CSOs must cooperate to understand the behaviors and activities that buyers undertake during their buying journey. Which content on your website is popular? Why do customers stop interacting with you as a result of seeing your online demo? Which are the common sets content and interactions that led to a purchase for a particular vertical industry? When is the appropriate time to introduce a sales person?

The aggregate buyer behavior intelligence and analytics from the marketing and sales automation tools are amazing. And while the dashboards are awesome, CMOs and CSOs have to really roll their sleeves up and get dirty in the data to really understand what’s going on, especially early in the learning process.

Step 3- Build campaigns, content, and tools that attract buyers

The content needed to attract Customer 2.0 is much different than the content of yesteryear. These buyers don’t want to be sold to. They want to learn and they like learning through webinars, podcasts, twitter, videos, blogs, and thought leadership content. They want to understand best practices and how other companies are solving their problem. CMOs and CSOs must co-create budgets to fund these campaigns, content, and tools. They must work together to build, test, and determine when is appropriate to deliver which piece of content to customers, based on their behavior.

Step 4 – Processes and execution

CMOs and CSOs must create much tighter linkages and effective handoffs between sales and marketing teams. And, they must consort to change all the marketing processes, sales processes, forecasting methodologies, manager coaching practices, etc., etc., etc.  They must change the working relationship, language, and communication between their teams. Leveraging both the new content and the marketing and sales automation tools, they must work together to proactively engage with Customer 2.0, influence them, create and nurture the opportunity, and close the deals.

The bottom line

Changes in buyer’s behavior and the necessary tools needed to compete for and attract buyers have created an environment whereby CMOs and CSOs must now work in resplendent harmony. Failure to do means certain failure to attract and keep customers over time. Customer 2.o is here to stay. So, I sure hope the CSO and CMO like the person in the office next door.

Question: What are you seeing that demonstrates this new buyer behavior? Have you noticed your CMO and CSO burying the hatchet and collaborating?