The often-used term ‘stronger together’ is never more apt than when talking about Marketing and Sales. These two professional disciplines are two sides of the same coin. Marketing seek new leads and create insightful content to build brand awareness and drive interest in the company’s products and services; Sales focus is on converting leads into customers. When these strategies align, they drive the success of the business.
Some of the many benefits of alignment include a higher rate of growth, greater efficiencies, lower costs, and greater motivation. Successfully nurtured leads from inbound marketing and outbound campaigns can drive sales productivity and reduce customer abandonment. A successful brand says a lot about your company that Sales can build on. Personalised, customised, relevant content helps customer acquisition, retention and advocacy.
It doesn’t always work this way. Sometimes Marketing and Sales view each other as the enemy rather than the competition. When this happens, everyone loses. Non-alignment can reduce the number of converted leads and a disjointed understanding of the buyer persona and customer journey. This results in diminished content quality which, in many cases, leads to outdated and off-brand material being shared with customers.
A report by Hubspot shows that non-alignment of Marketing and Sales costs $1 trillion a year of lost sales, whereas companies that effectively align Marketing and Sales experience hugely higher profit and revenue growth.
So, how do companies leverage the benefits of aligning Marketing and Sales? Here are some tips to help Marketing and Sales to work better together.
A clear vision and common goals are key ingredients in a successful company’s culture. An ethos of working together to achieve common objectives starts at the highest level and is the basis for alignment throughout the company. Marketing and Sales have different roles and responsibilities but have the same objective – delivering revenue for the company. Acknowledging and building on that shared goal, and relying on each other’s capabilities, will develop trust between them.
Marketing and Sales teams have such a huge influence on each other that it makes sense to bring each other in at the planning stage. Joint planning will prevent siloed thinking and working in isolation. For instance, letting Sales know about upcoming email and direct mail campaigns, blog post topics and events will help Sales to coordinate their activity around them. Planning involves working the Buying Cycle pipeline together: agreeing definitions and sharing ownership of ideal customers and buyer personas, defining MQLs and SQLs, agreeing responsibilities and activities for each stage of the customer journey. Planning involves analysis of good quality data for lead scoring, identifying what works and what doesn’t, wins and losses, competition strengths and weakness, and the factors that build competitive advantage.
Recognising the other team’s strengths
Understanding the strengths of both teams and how they complement each other, builds confidence in other teams’ abilities, better working relationships based on trust, and drives better outcomes. Marketing’s skills lie in executing strategies that drive awareness and interest in the company and its products and services through events, website interaction, campaigns, social networking and producing engaging and meaningful content; Sales are stronger in leveraging Influencers and building one-to-one relationships that will deliver the deal.
Regular communications helps to build receptive relationships, mutual confidence, and to coordinate initiatives and activities. Good communication enables strategic adjustments to be made, for instance, to the content that Marketing produce, and when Sales should approach prospects; did a customer attend an event? what did the customer ask the Salesperson about the product? A great way to improve communication is to attend each other’s meetings to encourage understanding and the two-way flow of feedback.
Reviewing outcomes and achievements together, rather than in isolation, provides valuable feedback, insight and the opportunity for Marketing and Sales to learn from each other’s experiences. It enables adjustments to strategies and coordinated planning. Sales gain valuable industry and customer feedback by talking to customers – why deals are won and lost, which product or service features excite customers, the questions they are most frequently asked, which can help Marketing formulate campaigns and content.
Marketing content helps to differentiate and position companies, products and services. Marketing aims to produce valuable, compelling content that is relevant for each stage of the Buying Cycle. Feedback from Sales is crucial as Sales have a unique knowledge of buyer behaviour, what drives engagement at each stage, and what they need to close the deal. They know the questions buyers ask, where buyers need further education, and what they need to close a deal: content that isn’t relevant to a potential buyer at the stage they’re at has a negative effect.
Having tailored content ready and available for each stage of the Buying Cycle is vital for nurturing customers along the pipeline to deal closure. Collateral that doesn’t provide value and relevance is unlikely to be used by Sales. It is not uncommon for Sales to use out of date and off-brand material if they are not confident in the collateral produced by Marketing. In these circumstances Marketing won’t know what material Salespeople are using.
Technology is breaking down the walls between Marketing and Sales because both teams rely on it for pipeline management, nurturing leads, turning website visits into sales calls, and for making collateral accessible. Having the relevant collateral readily available is crucial when Sales are closing a deal, but they also need on-brand and effective content such as thought pieces, research, proposals and presentations to nurture and build relationships.
Many companies are using platforms that provide easy-access, centralised repositories of pre-approved collateral, tailored to the customers’ requirements on the Buying Cycle. Platforms that also provide smart, dynamic templates align Marketing and Sales collateral needs: Sales can personalise professionally designed exact-fit documents when they need them; Marketing are assured of brand consistency, version control, that Sales are using the collateral Marketing prepared for them by monitoring usage, and that important content cannot be altered by human error.
To find out more about how Enable, Perivan’s on-demand marketing platform, can help to align your Marketing and Sales Teams, please get in touch.