Companies that report “strong alignment” between Sales and Marketing have been shown to close more leads, retain more customers, and grow faster than those that don’t. (Source: https://sujanpatel.com)
Whether you’re struggling to bridge a divide at your company, or just want to be sure your teams stay aligned in the long run, these tips for Sales and Marketing alignment will help…
Don’t tolerate blame
Sales says Marketing isn’t adequately nurturing leads. Marketing says Sales isn’t following up properly. This kind of finger-pointing and blame-shifting is cancerous. It short-circuits accountability, creates animosity, and leads to separation. Redirect any conversations that blame another team for an issue. Try to discuss ways your team can help the other be more effective in that area. This will keep the conversation positive. And, this line of thought is far more likely to produce a solution.
If you only take one thing away from this post, it should be to have regular meetings with the other team. At the very least, the leadership of the marketing and sales teams should be meeting often. Setting up an email alias that emails both teams at once is a simple way to share information in both directions and encourages conversation.
Agree on scoring criteria
What, exactly, does a qualified lead look like? Whether or not you’re using lead scoring in your organization, it can be a useful exercise to discuss what those scoring criteria might be. You may find that you learn something important about what the sales team or marketing team values that the other team had not considered.
Collaborate on key messages
When it comes time to decide on fundamental messaging such as an external mission statement, product positioning, and product terminology, it’s best to work together. Besides integrating more perspectives, this will make both teams equally invested in consistently using this messaging.
Adopt a shared language
Be sure that you’re using the same terms when you discuss the product, what it’s for, and how it works. If marketing and sales are using different verbiage, the customer is going to have difficulty figuring out whether the product meets their needs. They may tune out or miss something important and it comes off unprofessional when teams aren’t on the same page.
Use the same metrics & KPIs
While sales teams generally talk about close rates and marketing teams generally talk about conversion rates, we’re both really talking about the same thing — creating customers. As much as possible, try to measure success in the same terms and tie a Sales success back to Marketing efforts and vice versa.
Share all your data
Whether you choose to work out of the same platform that covers both marketing and sales, or have separate marketing and sales CRM solutions, make it a priority to have a deep, two-way integration so that both teams have access to all the rich customer insight they’re gathering for each other. Knowing how a lead interacts with your marketing material before jumping on a call can be invaluable to a sales person. And, if on that call, a sales person learns more about a lead’s interests, adjusting their marketing follow up to be more targeted can mean the difference between a customer and another lost deal.
Have a central location for sharing sales enablement resources
As marketing creates collateral, it should be added to a central repository that everyone on the sales team has access to. It should include a description of the asset and suggestions on how it might be used. This document should be kept up to date so it’s viewed as the place to find all collateral.
Have a way to capture ideas
The sales team should have a way to quickly and easily suggest ideas for resources that would be useful to them. Ideally, there’d also be a way to vote on these resources. This makes it clear to the marketing team how they can make the most impact for the sales team.
Providing positive feedback to the marketing team can be a powerful motivator. If the sales team closed a major deal using marketing’s enablement tools, sharing the success with them can help them feel that their efforts are making an impact. They’ll feel appreciated and valued which keeps morale and energy high.
Spend personal time together
Socializing outside of work can be a great way to bridge the divide between the two teams. As people get to know each other on a personal level, they’ll feel more comfortable openly communicating in a work environment. Celebrating a shared success is a great excuse to get together outside of work.
Avoid the concept of a “hand off”
Thinking of sales and marketing as distinct, linear processes with a single hand-off moment from Marketing to Sales can create a misleading perception of how sales and marketing actually work together in the real world. A lead is often passed back and forth between marketing and sales many times. And, ideally marketing never stops. So, instead, try to frame things as a continuous collaboration, efforts that reinforces one another, or an interwoven system of processes.
Have marketing sit in on sales calls
Marketing generally gets very few opportunities to interact directly with customers and, if they do, it’s often not to have a sales-oriented conversation. Shadowing sales calls can keep the marketing team in tune with what customers are interested in, what their hangups and objections are, and what alternatives they’re being compared to. This will help them keep their copy, content, and campaigns focused on the needs and interests of customers.
Teach sales how to help with content promotion
Your sales team can use their social media accounts to share your marketing team’s content, submit the content to new sites, and more. Training on how the sales team can help promote marketing content can pay for itself very quickly. With the sales teams support, marketing’s content will be more effective and they’ll feel like the two teams are helping each other achieve a common goal.
Measure & iterate on a schedule
Are leads with higher scores actually more likely to close or worth more than low-scoring leads? Is marketing follow up adequately preparing leads to have a conversation with sales? Rather than letting problem areas fester and frustration build, it’s best to address concerns early and tweak things by re-visiting them regularly. This will encourage continuous improvement through iteration.
Read more about aligning your sales and marketing teams here