Have you ever driven a car out of alignment? It’s not a fun ride. You’re constantly pulling the steering wheel to one side and then overcorrecting just to stay in a straight line toward your destination. The constant tension eventually wears your tires out, causes damage to your steering and suspension and could end up leaving you stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Similarly, when marketing and sales departments are out of alignment, a tension builds that can cause a chain reaction of disruption, leaving goals and objectives out of reach.
Though marketing and sales departments are performing unique tasks, they are working toward one common goal — propelling a company forward.
Historically speaking, sales and marketing have worked in silos independently from one another; marketing typically owns the top of the funnel and sales is traditionally in charge of the bottom. Once marketing created an opportunity for sales, it could be handed off and sales teams would never hear from the marketing department again beyond that transaction.
However, the marketing funnel and the sales cycle should not be merely a transactional relationship. They need to be defined together and work as one system with a common goal. Here’s why.
Why It Takes a Team
Everyone’s goal is the same, to turn visitors to stores or websites into customers. Better aligning these interdependent departments will improve efficiency, tighten close times and remove duplicative efforts. By sharing resources and knowledge, the process will become far easier for the team to conduct, and more effortless on the customer’s side to say “yes.”
Teams that function separately are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Both your marketing and sales teams have the same goal of driving sales and revenue, so it is crucial to keep them in sync. When sales and marketing align, revenue increases, the sales cycle shortens and conversion rates improve along with forecast accuracy. This symbiosis also simultaneously cuts costs and extends the revenue cycle.
4 Questions for Your Sales and Marketing Teams
Clarity is key. Here are four key questions to ask to make sure everyone is aware of the bigger picture, and how what each department does affects the other:
- Does the sales team know what marketing has been sharing with leads to convert them?
- In turn, does marketing know what assets sales is using to close customers?
- Do your teams communicate regularly to each other about what they’re doing?
- How can the two teams help each other?
Information and Content: The keys to aligning sales and marketing
So, we know that the teams can help each other, but what exactly do they talk about? Both teams should agree on the definition of common terms as well as qualifying criteria.
Marketing teams can help sales by:
- Educating buyers
- Nurturing and qualifying leads
- Providing competitive intel
- Influencing the market
- Consistently engaging customers
Sales teams can help marketing by:
- Offering real-world solution applications
- Sharing information they directly gathered from clients
- Explaining market dynamics
- Validating the validity of content
- Discovering what delights customers
- Sharing which features are especially sought out
- Revealing which pain points most frequently come up
- Discussing what makes a quality opportunity
- Pinpointing what disqualifies an opportunity
Sales can provide a list of disqualifications so marketing has an idea about the type of contact that is most likely to become a customer. Sales can also let marketing know what they learned with conversions so marketing can tweak lead generation strategy and focus on gathering quality leads. Additionally, the sales team can provide insight as to what excites customers and, inversely, the reasons opportunities are not closing. Meanwhile, marketing’s buyer personas can educate sales on who they’re selling to, what they care about, and how to help them. Marketing assets also assist with closing the sales deal and they should be sharing them so the sales team knows what content to send contacts.
Each team should be regularly sharing reporting and analysis — the metrics they track and measure and the insight gained from their analysis. This channel of communication should remain open and active for ideas and analysis findings.
Intentionality Between Teams
Do you know what kind of communication method each team has? What system is in place to share knowledge? Being deliberate and intentional in implementing regular training and meetings between teams will facilitate a better flow of communication between the two.
By attending regular sales meetings, marketers will better know how the sales team is performing with their quota and goals, while marketing can share their upcoming campaigns, content and soon-to-be offers that will be promoted. The sales team can hold product demonstrations for marketing and share vital insight with marketing during these meetings. By delivering their direct intel, sales ensures marketing is up-to-date on buyer’s pain points and needs and therefore better able to execute marketing initiatives. Marketing can also ask for content ideas and recommendations from sales for future offers and blog posts. After all, the sales team talks directly with customers and they can find out what buyers respond to!
Intentionally organizing the marketing team’s sales enablement resources in a common, easy-to-access and sort location will streamline a better working relationship between the teams. Making sure the resources are up to date and shared will require legwork and maintenance, but it will make everyone’s lives easier. Marketers create many types of sales enablement resources such as brochures, company overviews and presentations, but all that hard work goes to waste if your sales team can’t find them or use them. The most effective system is to have shared knowledge between teams so there is consistent communication throughout the buyer process with a seamless handoff between marketing-generated leads to the sales team.
You can even take it a step further. When a new salesperson is hired, onboard them with a marketing meeting so, right from the start, they are apprised of processes, resources and best practices to make sure this symbiosis continues to proliferate.
Of course, there are different KPIs by department; marketing measures customer acquisition cost, cost per lead and lead to customer ratio, while sales looks at sales closing ratio, average sales cycle length and total revenue. However, the end goal is the same: both are looking to optimize, lower cost, improve efficiency and get to the same destination.
Gabriel Marketing Group can help your sales and marketing teams reach their goals on a clear, straight road. Contact us today so we can help you align your sales and marketing objectives to get your organization where it wants to be.
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