Misalignment between sales and marketing can cost B2B companies 10% of revenue or more per year (Hubspot).
Evidence that, in the age of the customer (Salesforce) and Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies, it’s more critical than ever to get your marketing and sales teams on the same page. Not only will this improve morale, it could significantly improve your bottom line whilst enabling you to deliver superier customer experiences!
This may become all too clear if your business is expanding and you’re starting to notice a marked disconnect between your sales and marketing departments. But it’s not just growing companies that are experiencing the symptoms of misalignment, even the most established businesses can be guilty of department silos.
But how do you turn delineation into one streamlined and integrated operation, optimized for customer experience excellence that spans the whole lifecycle?
Discover these 5 tried and tested techniques for creating the ultimate culture of collaboration. These are highly effective methods for ensuring everyone is on side and working toward the same goals.
1. Lose the “us versus them” mentality
First up, identify if sales and marketing are viewed and treated as two separate or at best, loosely connected, entities within your company. Making sales and devising an effective marketing strategy go hand in hand, and if sales and marketing are at odds with each other, don’t communicate effectively, or find dealing with each other challenging and frustrating, the chances are that this will impact on your bottom line.
Sales and marketing professionals respectively often have a fundamental disconnect in understanding what the other party does, how they do it, and the full remit of what is involved.
Do any of the following sound familiar?
- Discrepancies in goals and the approach taken to reach them?
- Frustration in terms of expectations?
- A lack of communication and cooperation?
Marketing professionals tend to think in the abstract, taking a long term approach, whilst sales lives very much in the now, chasing that bottom line or target with a very narrowly focused view. This in turn means that it can be challenging for sales to understand and appreciate what marketing does, and how it relates to what they do – and vice versa.
This can then lead to the development of an “us versus them” mentality, which is apt to generate dissatisfaction on both sides, making the occasional interactions between sales and marketing ineffective at best and in some cases, outright hostile.
If an “us versus them” culture has started to take root in your respective departments, now is the time to nip it in the bud and resolve the problem – through training, meetings, networking, and any other approach that is a good fit for your company culture and goals.
2. Open the channels of communication
Getting your respective teams past the often ingrained “us versus them” mentality – or a basic level of distrust that can be borne from a lack of understanding of and familiarity with the two respective roles – all hinges on enabling effective communication. They should call on each other to solve problems, rather than seeing the other party as the cause of them!
Here’s how to open the channels of communication:
- Get people together face to face. If your marketing and sales teams have never gotten together in the same room before, your introductory meeting is well overdue. Put a human face to the voice at the other end of the phone or behind those emails, and allow people to make a personal connection that will pay dividends for the long term.
- Hold weekly or at least monthly collaboration meetings. If you can’t get all of both teams together, appoint liaisons to keep in touch with each other and feed back to their respective sales and marketing teams.
- Encourage communication and collaboration. Make sure you keep the communication flowing in between meetings via phone, email, or other appropriate channels.
- Keep everyone goal-focused. By keeping all of the team in the loop – shared calendars, rollouts etc you can ensure everyone is working to the same agenda.
- Get everyone involved. When a new marketing campaign goes live, your sales team should know all about it from its inception and be ready and waiting to meet the challenge. A scenario in which sales learn about your hot new offer or campaign launch from the prospects that it brings in is critically hampered in terms of its effectiveness from the get-go. Put your liaisons to work ensuring that both departments are on the same page and have ironed out any challenges before the big rollout.
For more information on improving communication in the workplace, check out this article currently trending on our IFP content hub.
3. Invite and accept feedback in both directions
Sales and marketing have different specialisms, challenges and insights into every endeavor. As such these departments need to be able to feed back to each other to make your campaigns and sales channels as effective as possible.
When marketing is devising a new strategy or campaign, sales needs to be involved, and have opportunities to raise questions, point out potential problems and iron out any challenges that may arise before it goes live.
Similarly, sales needs to keep marketing in the loop when it comes to how things are going from their side, issues that are arising, or particularly relevant insights or customer comments that can help to strengthen and inform future and existing campaigns. This will aid conversion on your campaigns and ensure they translate directly into increased sales.
Requiring feedback like this can occasionally be seen by sales as a distraction (Harvard Business School Review) that diverts them from their primary role – closing deals. Marketing can improve their chances of receiving constructive guidance from sales by making it easy for them to give their opinion. Providing a quick online survey to gather their feedback is a great start – it’s amazing how insightful these surveys can be.
4. Look to the data
Sales is often very data-driven, with a single minded focus on achieving targets and increasing profits. Marketing, particularly brand-led marketing, is often viewed as an abstract or intangible – and this can lead to accusations of getting lucky rather than working with tangible, measurable metrics.
However, data and analytics are vital to both sides of the operation – and sales and marketing analytics need to be viewed cohesively to produce a complete picture of what is going on and what is working – or failing.
For instance, if a certain campaign is bringing in huge swathes of traffic that isn’t converting into sales, it is easy to assume that it is the sales department who is dropping the ball or ruining all of marketing’s hard work, but this is not necessarily the case. Perhaps the type or quality of traffic that the campaign is attracting isn’t appropriate to the product or offer, or perhaps an additional stage profiling the leads before they are followed up could mean a more optimized follow up process.
Similarly, if sales are on the up and marketing can’t tie this into a certain campaign or angle, you might find that your sales team are sitting on a huge, untapped resource of valuable information about who is buying from you and why, which can help to inform future campaigns.
5. Make plan of attack that synergizes all your efforts
When does a marketing lead become a sales qualified lead?
The answer completely depends on how you have defined each stage of your nurture process. Traditionally the role of marketing is to drive demand and generate leads for sales and if you use marketing automation, you may use a scoring system to determine the temperature of a lead. However, as ABM and other customer obsessed strategies govern modern marketing practices, the clear delineation between a marketing and sales lead becomes increasingly blurred. This is because we’re now concerned with the whole customer Lifecyle, not just the activity that gets them to one single point in their journey.
Therefore it’s imperative Marketing understand and have visibility over the Sales Pipeline. This ensures they are able to run nurture activities alongside the Sales process whilst capturing any leaks in the sales funnel.
This requires a team effort where collaboration paths the way for superior customer experiences. To do this, it is recommended you put in place shared KPIs that both incentize your sales team and create mutual accountability (Forbes). It is also important that tone of voice and messaging remains consistent, no matter where the customer lies in the nurture process.
Remember, in order to deliver outstanding customer experiences from every critical touchpoint, it is essential your Sales and Marketing are aligned. With sophisticated Account-Based Marketing strategies on the rise and crowning new market champions, can you really afford not get the basics the right? Not only is it good for business, it’s also critical for sustaining a productive workplace that keeps your top talent content.
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