Tips to Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams
October 26, 2016
Sales and marketing alignment is key to driving success regardless of your industry. It’s also an issue that many companies find to be a struggle.
The disconnect stems from these teams’ seemingly disparate goals. The marketing team is expected to generate as many leads as possible, while the sales team is under pressure to turn those leads into paying customers. Often this causes the former to focus on volume at the expense of quality, while the latter tends to blame failure to close on the marketing team for not qualifying leads effectively.
One way to unify these two teams is to focus your efforts on results by making ROI the responsibility of the whole company, not just individual teams. When both teams see the bigger picture, the whole organization benefits by having a shorter sales cycle and better target market profiling. This gives you the ability to close the gap between lead quantity and lead quality.
Here are a few best practices you can implement to help align your sales and marketing teams:
1. Hold Regular Meetings
It may sound obvious, but it can be a challenge to set aside time for regular meetings especially when there are deadlines to meet and time becomes a scarce resource. Whatever the case, you should always make time to catch up because these knowledge sharing sessions play a significant role in the alignment process.
Make the most of these meetings by having a clear agenda to share processes, resources, and best practices on both ends. Marketers must be kept updated on the sales team’s progress when it comes to meeting their quotas and goals because it allows marketing to offer specific support when needed.
2. Secure Executive Commitment
You have a better chance of success if you secure the backing of key personnel from the C-suite. This puts a considerable emphasis on unity and sends a clear message throughout the organization that you mean business.
This is especially important in companies where the rivalry is clear between these two functions. Executive level buy-in will help neutralize tensions and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
3. Don’t Tie ROI Solely to Sales
Marketing has traditionally been more concerned with bringing in as many leads as possible. As such, most have failed to keep track of how their lead generation efforts contribute to overall revenue.
Alignment between the two teams means that marketing has to develop strategies with metrics focused on revenue generation. KPIs such as “deals influenced” or “deals sourced” can be included to help tie in campaigns with bottom line results.
4. Come Up with a Common Set of Definitions
This ensures that both teams are on the same page both literally and figuratively. This also promotes clear and effective communication across teams, so confusion and misunderstandings are minimized.
For example, a “lead” can mean different things to different departments. How qualified are these leads and what does it take for a prospect to be classified as a lead? Don’t hesitate to be as granular as possible for best results.
5. Agree on a Single Customer View
Both teams must take the time to define their exact target audience. There must be a clear picture of the ideal customer, which can be achieved by sharing what both teams’ unique knowledge.
Familiarize yourselves with each customer touchpoint until you come up with a well-rounded picture based on mutual insight and common goals.
6. Marketing Should Keep Sales Updated on Upcoming Campaigns
Make an effort to ensure that any new campaign or content launched has been shared with the sales team. This promotes a seamless front so that the sales team can directly engage the leads who have consumed these new marketing materials.
Make sure that marketing is coordinating with sales whenever a new email blast is sent out, or any new leads have been acquired. This will not only give additional insight into a customer’s interests, but it will also provide sales reps with an idea of what motivates leads to take the next step.
7. Use a Closed-Loop Feedback System
The sales team communicates with leads or prospects regularly, so they are in the best position to tell you what your customers need. However, they don’t always have the time to record these insights, which can lead to a breakdown in communications.
One way to address this issue is to use shared documents to collect ideas and references. Another way to bridge the gap is by holding regular brainstorming sessions where the sales team can share what they know about attracting leads or what types of content would resonate the most with prospects.
A closed-loop feedback system will ensure open communication and that all opportunities to leverage customer data are being taken advantage of.
8. Implement Strategic Content Creation
Don’t simply leave content creation to the content team. Your entire company is full of potential knowledge that can help improve the quality of your content, and you should be taking advantage of it.
Your sales teams have an intricate knowledge of what customers want, so why not use them to help develop content that is more appropriate for your audience? You can interview them, ghostwrite for them, or if they’re so inclined, have them write the post themselves. This will provide you with new knowledge channels and empower your best sales reps.
9. Lead Quantity and Quality Must Work in Tandem
Lead generation companies optimize their lead generation efforts by finding the right balance between lead quantity and lead quality. The best possible combination will differ depending on the type of company and its industry.
To find a balance that works specifically for you, you’ve got to test, test, and test some more. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Could we improve sales conversion rates if we focus more on the qualification process?
- Could we increase lead volume if we focused less on the qualification process?
Find out how shifting the focus affects ROI to find the best possible practice for your business.
10. Make Sales-Enablement Resources Easily Accessible
Brochures, presentations, overviews, and other marketing materials should be placed in a shared area (like Google Drive) so that the sales team can easily get hold of these resources to support their activities.
Include your marketing strategy, campaign calendar, relevant offers, blog posts, and other content tailored for specific customer personas in this shared file. With more contextually-relevant information, sales teams will be able to tailor their sales pitch more effectively.
Alignment = Success
In most organizations, sales and marketing have historically operated independently of each other. It’s rare to find these two functions working perfectly as a unified team with common goals.
In many cases, there’s even a rivalry between the two, because both sides fail to see how each one can benefit from the other. While some teams have successfully found common ground without outside interference, the best approach is to assign managers and personnel to oversee their alignment.
This responsibility primarily rests on key decision makers, as they have the power to set operational objectives. Expect some form of resistance from your marketing and sales teams, because nobody likes change. But with a keen focus and a proper plan in place, you’ll be seeing higher conversion rates, better performance from both sales and marketing teams, and a more functional working environment altogether.