In a perfect world, sales and marketing teams are composed of the same people who share the exact same goals and targets. They’d be working harmoniously with one another, and every achievement would be the result of a seamless process that perfectly complements each department’s strengths and weaknesses.
But, in the real world, that ideal scenario seldom holds true. Each team often has different goals and varying expectations that are not always well aligned.
For example, marketing departments aim to set a solid foundation for strong brand recognition, so they’re in it for the long haul. They also usually view lead generation as a numbers game, with goals to reach out to as many prospects as possible in order to increase the chances of some being converted into leads.
The sales team, on the other hand, moves at a faster pace. They have sales quotas to reach and demanding prospects to talk to, so the resulting timeframe for interacting with prospects is shorter. Lead generation for them is not a numbers game. Rather, it’s an opportunity to uncover client needs that must be met to close a sale.
With such different approaches, can these two teams ever see eye-to-eye?
One way to resolve this is through operational alignment. This is one of the best ways for the two teams to meet halfway, enabling both departments to enhance each other’s effectiveness through better collaboration.
Below, are six proven tactics to help create sales and marketing alignment.
1. Create a Unified Customer View
Begin with a clear picture of your company’s ideal customer and buyer personas. When both the marketing and sales teams have a well-defined view of who that customer is, it acts as a solid foundation, enabling both departments to create strategies and campaigns around common goals.
Both teams should be privy to every customer touchpoint, whether it’s through face-to-face interactions, customer service feedback, email, page views, or data stored in your Customer Relationship Management system. Adopting the same unified customer view is the first step toward successfully aligning both departments. It’s important to take care at this stage because any misalignment here can create confusion down the road.
2. Adopt a Revenue Cycle Approach
The sales funnel is a widely used model followed by most sales and marketing departments. It involves casting a wide net over a large audience and pushing the highest quality prospects further along the funnel, with the intention of transforming them into leads, and eventually customers.
While this strategy has been successfully implemented in the traditional sales setting, today’s tech-savvy consumer has evolved to the point where a revenue cycle approach has become more appropriate.
Why? Because customers these days have the ability to do their research online. Unlike during the pre-internet age, they can instantly access a wealth of content to educate themselves about a product or service. As a result, consumers have become more demanding and expect both personalized attention, and faster turnaround times.
A revenue cycle strategy recognizes this new breed of customer and adjusts accordingly. Clients’ needs are heeded so that each stage in the sales funnel moves fluidly, as opposed to a rigid step-by-step approach. Both marketing and sales must understand that they need to work with each other to successfully provide the kind of personalization that today’s customers demand.
3. Implement Closed-Loop Reporting
While the marketing team is busy coming up with strategies and creating campaigns, sales reps are occupied with talking directly to potential clients and convincing them that your product or service is superior to all others.
However, sales reps typically don’t have the means or the time to record what they learn from these interactions with clients. It is a shame because the feedback they gather from prospects could be a huge help to shaping new strategies and adding value to future interactions.
To fill this gap, synchronize your sales and marketing data by integrating an appropriate CRM tool that is accessible to all. The intelligence that marketers gather from closed-loop reporting can help sales teams by exposing conversion assists and touchpoints that prospects interacted with before becoming leads or customers. Meanwhile, the intelligence that sales reps gather from directly interacting with customers can help marketing teams identify common needs, behaviors, and motivations that can be used to target prospects.
4. Meet Regularly
For each department to support each other successfully, it is important to share processes, best practices, and resources. This can be implemented with a weekly or monthly sales and marketing team meeting. Apart from setting expectations and addressing potential questions, these meetings allow marketers to learn how sales teams are doing with their quotas and objectives (and vice-versa).
Properly define service level agreements during these meetings so that it is clear how each team will act to support each other. Hold brainstorming sessions and ask teams what tactics they think could enhance operations. Use shared databases to make this information available to all and use shared calendars to keep both teams up to date on the other’s progress.
5. Align Your Content Strategy
Make sure that both marketing and sales are onboard with regards to your overall content marketing strategy. Both sides should be present during the creation process. Ideally, each team should agree on an overall content strategy, when and how the content will be used, where it should be published, and what KPIs to use to gauge effectiveness.
When both sides agree on these areas, empower the sales team by letting them decide how they can best use the content to qualify leads effectively, making it easier for them to close sales.
Wrapping Things Up
Successful alignment within your sales and marketing teams is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Data supports this claim; MarketingProfs stated that sales and marketing alignment leads to 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates. Salesforce indicated that aligned organizations averaged a 32% average revenue growth rate compare to a 7% decline for less aligned companies. Lastly, Sirius Decisions declared that tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three-year period.
Together, these two departments can bring in a consistent revenue stream that promises to contribute to a robust bottom line and improved lead generation strategies. When each department can harness each other’s strengths, it’s bound to increase your chances of long-term business success. With numbers like that on your side, why not give sales and marketing alignment a try?