This is a contributed blog by Kara Tiernan-Herring of Brand Storytelling
Relationship status? It’s complicated.
The struggle to align sales and marketing teams isn’t a new problem, but it’s one that’s rarely resolved (or sometimes even addressed) in the workplace.
One of the key elements of any successful relationship is communication—and that happens to be a huge factor in successful sales and marketing interactions, too.
In this post, we’ll review how to address the challenge of sales and marketing alignment by creating a common language to improve the effectiveness of both departments, making it easier to drive leads and close sales.
The struggle for alignment is real
According to a recent report by Forrester, the misalignment between sales and marketing teams continues to be a hot topic—even after a decade of B2B companies trying to solve this problem.
Can you relate?
When there’s a breakdown in communication, we often hear comments from sales reps like, “Marketing isn’t producing the content my buyers need” or “Our sellers are using outdated content and always asking for customizations,” from marketers.
When you aren’t communicating effectively and don’t have visibility into your content effectiveness, you’re going to experience this sales vs. marketing blame game.
If you aren’t using a single content management system (CMS) or content repository, it can be difficult for sellers to know where the latest and greatest marketing assets are located to share with their prospects. It can also be difficult as a marketer to know what content is working in the field, and what content may need to be revised or pulled.
Having a single place to share content, goals, and real-time metrics is crucial to improving your sales and marketing alignment strategy.
When there isn’t a communication cadence in place between sales and marketing, a lot can get lost in translation.
It’s essential to ensure you’re keeping sellers informed by establishing sales communication on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. It’s also crucial to update the content and delivery channels to reflect the different time scales and priority levels.
The benefits of effective communication don’t lie
Companies are starting to recognize the benefits of sales and marketing alignment. In a recent State of Sales Enablement 2018 report, more than 80% of marketers and 70% of sales reps ranked “strong alignment between sales and marketing” as an important factor in their company’s and team’s success.
When you can align sales and marketing, your organization tends to have a better understanding of customer personas and the customer journey.
When there is synergy between the two groups, it’s much easier to identify your customer’s wants and needs and create more accurate buyer personas. It helps both sales and marketing understand what is most likely to influence buyers at various stages in the buyer’s journey and gain a clear, holistic view of the entire customer lifecycle from initial engagement to agreement.
This alignment also helps both teams create campaigns that are designed to increase engagement and action.
When sales reps and marketers communicate effectively, the benefits are vast and measurable. Organizations with strong communication enjoy increased sales, higher customer retention rates, shorter buying cycles, increased hot leads, and higher sales win rates among many other benefits.
Successful sales and marketing alignment includes establishing shared goals for sales and marketing campaigns and directly translates to higher revenue. If you aren’t already taking steps to improve your communication with sales, there are a few steps you can take to get started.
Opening the door for communication
In order to improve communication, you need to bring sales and marketing stakeholders together to identify your pain points. These individuals don’t have time to waste, so make sure you go over the meeting goals, prepare talking points, and keep the conversation on-topic.
One of the top pain points for sales is often a lack of or weak sales enablement strategy—and this is where marketers can shine.
Working on implementing sales enablement creates cross-team collaboration and builds trust between departments by showing a willingness to adapt, improve, and hold your team accountable. Sales enablement allows your team to tailor content marketing strategies to support specific points in the buyer’s journey.
A thorough review of where you’re over- and under-invested is essential and quickly attainable via modern sales enablement capabilities. This is the gateway to higher content ROI.
Using sales and marketing tools to create a common language
Companies that use a single CMS with sales enablement and analytics capabilities have the tools they need to clearly identify content that is working and get a holistic understanding of the customer lifecycle.
This means they can incorporate new ideas into customer conversations and translate sales data into marketing insights, and marketing insights into higher-performing activities throughout the sales process.
These tools provide visibility into which marketing assets convert leads, giving you actionable insights to create and maintain better content that will help sellers close more deals.
They also provide version control capabilities so you can update and replace older versions of content to ensure that sellers are always working with the latest and greatest. They support different editing models so you can rest assured that the right set of people can control how each type of content is shared within your organization.
It’s clear that these tools can address sellers’ top pain points like identifying the right content for each stage in the buyer’s journey quickly and easily, but what about your marketing pain points?
Sales enablement and CMS tools also provide capabilities to empower sellers to customize their own presentations—within reason. These tools give sellers the power to customize or create content while still staying within the brand guidelines that you establish and manage.
This makes it quick and easy for them to add up-to-date, compliant content to the system to pitch and track, saving you time you can use to focus on more strategic activities.
Conclusion: Align sales and marketing
At the end of the day, the only way you’re going to increase sales is if you can connect with your prospects in a way that helps them believe in your products and services and want to do business with you.
By working together and opening the doors for regular communication, marketers and sellers will gain a stronger understanding of what their prospects care about at each stage of the buyer’s journey, providing them with the knowledge they need to engage buyers and close deals successfully.