There’s a classic conflict between Sales and Marketing teams at many companies, where each tends to undervalue the other’s contributions to revenue growth. If allowed to fester unchecked, this mutual antipathy works against the best interests of customers, the company, and the individual adversaries themselves.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some helpful insights on how to align marketing with sales so you can all start pulling as one team.
Sales departments tend to believe that marketers are out of touch with what’s really going on with customers and prospects, and it’s sometimes a valid criticism. Lacking direct contact with customers, marketing professionals rely on secondary evidence such as analytics or surveys to understand customer preferences.
On the flip side, Marketing often believes that the Sales force is myopic. They accuse Sales of being too focused on individual customer experiences, insufficient awareness of the larger market, and ignoring what’s brewing for the future.
Taming an unruly team
It’s like driving a team of horses, with each string wearing blinders on the opposite side.
If an organization doesn’t align incentives carefully, the two groups also run into conflicts about seemingly simple yet critical things – for instance, which products to focus on selling.
The Sales group’s contributions to the bottom line are easier to quantify than the marketers’ contributions. If conflicts arise and executives are forced to choose between competing proposals, marketers can be at a disadvantage in terms of office politics, staff and budget.
Thus, seeking a closer alignment with Sales is ultimately in a marketer’s best interest, as well as being a better position for the company to grow its revenues.
Building a virtuous feedback loop
Everyone will pay lip service to the idea that closer communication between the two teams benefits everyone, but when it comes to putting that into practice, the resolve often breaks down.
Your sales reps know what is getting customers excited about your company, because they talk to them all the time. The problem is getting them to actually provide the feedback. Figure out ways to help them, so they can help you.
Some companies are fostering closer working relationships by adopting a framework of operations where regular, meaningful interaction is essential. The increasing adoption of strategies like Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Customer Marketing rely on a virtuous feedback loop between Marketing and Sales where each feeds the other information targeted at specific high-value, repeating customers.
The dramatic revenue results coming out of these efforts show what can be achieved when the two factions make a sustained effort to work together.
Strategy suggestions to help align marketing with sales
1. Listen to sales calls. Marketers can actually get great ideas for future content creation and how to build some of the follow-up emails of your offers.
2. Create a team email alias. You can set up an email alias that gets sent to both the sales and marketing teams. Then use this strategically to share important information in both directions.
3. Create a central repository for sales collateral. Organize sales enablement resources such as brochures, company overviews, or presentations, in one easy-to-access location. This can also be a place to host your campaign calendar, links to relevant offers, and specific content for a market or buyer persona.
4. Improve sales force feedback. This can be somewhat tricky, because this is where communications often break down. Sales people don’t want to rehash their sales calls on a daily basis, and often won’t include detailed notes or insights in reports. If you want sales feedback, you have to make sure it can be be tapped with a minimum of disruption. Marketers might ask the Sales VP to summarize any sales force insights for the month or the quarter, in an informal call or meeting.
5. Hold brainstorm sessions. Have a five-minute brainstorm session at a sales meeting to ask what content they would like to have to share with prospects or attract more leads.
6. Use a shared Google document for sales input. Create a shared Google spreadsheet where Sales can add ideas or certain references for content creation.
7. Help showcase your salesperson’s expertise. You could ghostwrite a blog under their name, and help them share it with some canned social media messages. This helps them establish credibility and familiarity with their leads, and it’s more usable content for you.
8. Coordinate your content marketing campaigns with Sales. It’s important to keep the sales team updated on all promotions so they know what recent offer their leads are receiving. The best way is to create a shared calendar with the dates and duration of each promotion, any URLs, the main talking points, and offer descriptions.
9. Build follow-up email templates for your promotions. Sales people aren’t always the best writers; help them out. Make the templates specific to the offer(s), so they can start a conversation addressing the prospect’s interest.
10. If all else fails, your company might create a new reporting structure. This isn’t up to you as a marketer, but some companies are appointing a chief revenue (or chief customer) officer with overall responsibility for meeting revenue targets. The CRO oversees both marketing and sales functions and sets their mutual goals.
Leadit Marketing can help you create and execute a customized plan for coordinated sales and marketing campaigns. Ask us how!
Shannon Prager is recognized B2B marketing strategist and the President of Leadit Marketing. She is responsible for the daily operations and management of Leadit Marketing as well as the long term vision for the company.
A marketing leader with over 19 years of B2B demand generation and marketing experience, she understands the importance of a fully developed integrated marketing strategy. Shannon’s background includes demand generation, marketing automation, social media, digital marketing, customer marketing, account based marketing and marketing operations. You can follow her on LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannonprager or Twitter @ https://twitter.com/LeaditMarketing
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