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5 Steps to Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Published on October 16, 2018
Marketing | Sales |

Are you really serious about your business? 🤔

Do you want to improve your sales and marketing alignment? 🤝

If yes, that’s great. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you five key steps to align your sales and marketing teams for more success. ✅

Table of Contents:

5 Steps to Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Sales and marketing alignment is all about improving the customer’s experience. Ultimately, this drives the bottom line. Unfortunately, many companies still believe we are living in the age of the seller. They live with the mindset of selling, not assisting.

A business that is not customer-centred is doomed to fail.

Simply put, sales and marketing need to know more about each other, and both teams or departments need to know more about clients. Which brings us to our first main point:

What is Sales and Marketing Alignment?

Alignment between sales and marketing is potentially the biggest opportunity for improving the way a business performs. When sales and marketing teams join forces to drive the revenue cycle, they improve sales productivity, marketing ROI, and growth, and all this improvement is dramatic.

Aligning these teams or getting them to synergize should be every organization’s top goal regardless of the respective industry it operates in. Success comes from cooperation and unhindered exchange of ideas. With alignment, one steps away from the “survival of the fittest” mentality and embraces “survival with the wisest.”When your teams are not collaborating wisely, you can’t serve your clients as well as you otherwise would be able to.

Why is sales and marketing alignment challenging?

There are many reasons, the main one being that these teams have different targets and expectations.

Marketing team projects are often long-term. Generating qualified leads and setting a foundation with strong branding are common marketing goals. Marketing teams’ focus is on metrics. Unlike them, sales teams move at a fast pace.

Salespeople are always looking for ways to help resolve an issue. They often have quarterly or monthly quotas to meet. They are trying to lend a personal touch to any contact or transaction. They want to make the sale as soon as possible and want to know how their colleagues from marketing can help them.

Everyone wins when marketing and sales come to understand they’re part of the same team. The ultimate goal, i.e. alignment, can be approached by replacing the sales funnel with a turnover cycle and asking the teams to cooperate in defining a strategy to generate leads. It would also help to train a team of sales development representatives to bring about an optimal outcome faster by getting the most out of team efforts.

Sales and Marketing Alignment Best Practices

#1 Focus on the Numbers

Marketing teams tend to focus on content. They do research, which shows what type of content the business might need, and create it. This may be in the form of videos, presentations, or PDF files.

The problem with this may be that marketing isn’t sure this content has resonated with clients. This is where cooperation with sales comes in. The sales team needs to show hard data to prove the content strategy is working. Sales teams often fail to provide an adequate quantitative analysis on content performance.

Sales and marketing teams need to find a way to view reports and see which content performs best.

Who is viewing the content and for how long?

This data can do wonders for marketing content and ultimately improve sales team performance.

#2 Create Guidelines

Your marketing and sales teams will not acquire the new skills needed to align overnight. Nor will they do so on their own. As the owner of a brand, you should create guidelines and organize in-depth training programs that focus on the best practices, the value of engaging in social selling, and practical tips and advice to get started immediately.

Brands looking to achieve more effective and efficient sales and marketing alignment are investing in sales enablement more and more often. These organizations tend to attain higher quotas than counterparts that fail to make such investment.

At its core, sales enablement involves an integration of various departments, including marketing and sales, to improve the effectiveness of your organization’s sales. Enablement integrates sales and marketing to achieve optimal management of content and assets, facilitate sales onboarding and training, update guidelines and best practices, and more.

In a nutshell, this approach makes it easier for buyers to buy and sales teams to sell.

#3 Create a Blog of Successes

It is very helpful to create a blog of success stories in the process of sales and marketing alignment. These two departments need to “be on the same page”, both literally and figuratively. That page is the blog webpage. For them to communicate effectively, a shared culture needs to be nurtured, to which a blog could make a remarkable contribution.

It is an effective tool that can make it easier to gather and share important information. The sources on the blog can be used by the sales team to access templates, success references, case studies, commercial and technical articles. If these are done well, it will help the team in the different stages of the sales process to make sure conversion is achieved.

Sharing success stories will be helpful to increase motivation. It will foster a sense of belonging and make brand values clearer and more relatable. One option would be to structure blog content by type of problem and type of solution.

The marketing team can access these success stories easily and share them at the start of the sales process. This is done to provoke interest in the brand’s product or service. The sales team, in the later stages of the process, can share them to reduce the perceived risk and justify the sale. They show how similar clients have gone down this route and found success.

#4 Sales and Marketing Collaboration at Events

Having the teams collaborate at hosted events can go a long way toward sales and marketing alignment. This is because they can complement each other in a way guaranteeing the best possible outcome. The teams are good at different things, so they should join forces.

Marketers are good at providing the content for events and holding presentations and talks. Salespeople are good at coordinating the audience. They invite highly satisfied customers as well as potential customers to watch a presentation or listen to a talk.

The presentations demonstrate a brand’s capabilities and expertise, and their content can be used for future marketing materials. Marketing efforts are more likely to lead to client conversion because sales staff has brought previous satisfied clients. These then become ambassadors of the brand, helping salespeople be more convincing in terms of the quality of the services or products being offered.

Experience has shown that having potential customers interacting with a brand’s team is the best way to increase sales.

#5 Dealing with Personality Conflict

A classic example of misalignment is when the sales team says the leads they get from marketing aren’t good and these poor leads account for underperformance. Marketing will counter by saying they are hitting their numbers by giving sales good leads.

Personality differences are at the core of this conflict. Sometimes teams, and particularly their leaders, are more interested in making themselves look good (among other personal agendas) and less interested in aligning functions to improve the brand’s success prospects.

Sales teams tend to have more influence over the CEO, making a potential change of this unfortunate status quo somewhat challenging. Where it comes down to funds, companies tend to invest less in marketing than in sales.

However, a smart Chief Marketing Officer will realize buyers have different approaches to purchasing and make an effort to educate other senior executives about the dynamic, volatile nature of the marketplace. The brand should change accordingly.

On average, companies spend 35 per cent of their revenue on marketing and sales, so it is reasonable to optimize this spending and find practical applications where possible. Ultimately, the client is left out in this equation. It may be logical to want to create a revenue funnel with minimal friction in order to maximize returns.

A lot of changes are taking place across the spectrum in terms of revenue. Positions such as Chief Experience Officer and Chief Revenue Officer are being set up to reflect the wider responsibilities marketing experts are taking on.

Your marketing team should be able to engage clients personally, authentically, and at scale. Marketing engagement platforms and similar technologies have started making this possible. In fact, they have brought about long-term improvement of the ways marketing and sales teams collaborate.

Ideally, sales and marketing teams should work as one whole.

This is valid for processes throughout the framework of a brand – listen first and act second. This is of paramount importance in terms of revenue generation in the engagement economy. Companies like Google and Amazon have built business models based on this concept, and that’s one of the most important reasons for their amazing success.

Misalignment = Missed opportunities

The need for sales and marketing alignment may well have become obvious by now, but evidence suggests there is still a long way to go. Companies need to bring about a radical shift in perception to achieve a more cohesive function.

A B2B marketing research BMR report by Green Hat from last year found that conflict between marketing and sales continues to contribute to tension within the company, budget shortfalls, and missed quotas. This was a report on a study, in which 90 per cent of respondents expressed conviction that sales and marketing alignment was crucial, but less than 50 per cent said these departments had shared goals.

In addition, it was stated that marketing leads rarely passed through to the sales team.

Just under half of the B2B organizations that took part in the study were getting adequate lead follow-up. Only a quarter had plans for sales enablement. The authors of the study concluded there was still a wide gap between the management and handling of leads.

The good news is that big brands are placing great focus on customer experience. The annual growth of companies with strong sales and marketing alignment has been estimated at 20 per cent based on the results of the above study.

Training Sales Representatives

Sales and marketing teams interact with clients at different points in time. There needs to be consistency in message, content, and experience from the top of the funnel through to the person converting as a customer. Every investment in alignment of management and sales will pay itself off.

Your sales staff represent the experience that clients will have with your brand, making them a critical part of your client interactions. To a great extent, sales representatives determine how clients will choose to interact with your brand in the future, if at all.

Success for sales reps often means setting up appointments with account executives to close sales and generating qualified B2B sales leads. Your reps need the right training to improve the prospects of success.

Clearly Defined Targets

Your brand has targets that clarify what you expect of your sales team, but is each salesperson aware of what’s expected? Do they know how they need to get involved in order to achieve these targets effectively? You need to ascertain that your sales targets and goals are clearly defined. This should be done in a way letting your reps enjoy small, short-term as well as bigger, long-term victories.

Communication with Sales Reps

Your brand’s sales team should have an understanding of how many customers they’re expected to communicate with, how many of their leads they should close, and how many sales they have to achieve overall.

Not only should you define targets clearly, but you should also communicate with your sales reps in a way that they can check back on frequently.

Our Final Say

We hope our steps on marketing and sales alignment have been helpful and your brand will put them in practice. Alignment centers on the customer. A brand needs to look at everything it does from the perspective of the customer.

Many companies still find there should be sales and marketing delineation, with each team having tasks separate from those of the other team. This is no longer practicable. The teams should work together, where marketing generate leads, and sales close these leads, ultimately increasing brand revenue.

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