Aligning Sales & Marketing- Can It Really Be Done?

Aligning sales and Marketing

If you run a business or have ever worked in Sales or Marketing, you’ll understand the friction that can occur between the two. Traditionally it’s been viewed that both teams perform two unique roles and that without each other, neither would work optimally.

The age-old argument between Sales and Marketing teams normally goes like this: Sales complains that Marketing isn’t generating enough qualified leads and Marketing has a go at Sales for not driving the leads they do get hard enough to convert them into actual clients.

Better alignment and connection between Sales and Marketing equals less time bickering and more time converting leads into revenue (not to mention a far more satisfied customer). HubSpot calls this harmonious relationship ‘SMarketing’. But turning a dysfunctional relationship into one that functions optimally is easier said than done. Need a prod in the right direction? Here’s how to get the most out of your ‘SMarketing’ efforts.

 

Improve Communication between Sales & Marketing

communication between sales and mktng

Effective collaboration always starts with effective communication. Your sales team needs to provide feedback about the leads coming through from the Marketing effort. This feedback needs to be objective and measured against predefined ‘lead requirements’. Understanding what a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is compared to a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is crucial. Keeping an accurate ‘deal pipe’ will help Marketing understand what kinds of leads are more likely to be closed and converted into actual clients, which should be discarded from the outset, and which should be targeted in the future.

The more Sales and Marketing understand what they do and need from each other, the more they’ll keep the other in mind when carrying out their day-to-day activities. Encourage your Marketing teams to sit in on sales calls and help close deals so everyone understands the value of marketing-generated leads. When both teams sit alongside each other, they’ll understand that they’re fighting the same fight (not each other).

Finally, schedule a weekly ‘combined forces’ meeting to rally the troops and celebrate the weeks wins from both sides. Invite Marketing to tell the team about new product features or CTAs that they are getting good conversion on. Ask Sales to share about their newest clients (both in Pipe & Closed). Share both teams’ performance against KPI’s and share the results to make sure the end goal of REVENUE is made abundantly clear. End the meeting with a motivational thought, case study or update to target that will inspire both teams (coffee helps too).

 

Create Content for Sales, Not Just Inbound

It used to be that marketing teams would create content to get eyes - any eyes - onto their website and aware about their products and services. Good marketers these days create content that attract high-quality leads, but they also help sales attract the accounts they’re trying to target.

Sales and Marketing tactics have evolved significantly over the last ten years. While cold-calling formed the basis of earlier sales strategies, today people are becoming less responsive to cold-contact and more responsive to content that helps them make a decision. In fact, 90% of decision-makers in the US won’t answer cold calls. Modern-day decision-makers who are in the market for a product or service consume 5-8 pieces of content before they buy, which means that marketers are increasingly under pressure to produce high-quality content - and lots of it.

Marketers can no longer just target a specific demographic or persona group though. They need to market on behalf of their sales department too. Inbound marketing is crucial to hook your target persona in the first place, but once a contact is in your sales funnel it’s essential that you continue to give them high-quality sales-based content to help turn those enquiries into customers. Providing sales with case studies, proof of concepts and useful tools like calculators allows the salesperson to provide the lead with the content they need to convert into a customer.

 

Data is King

One reason why Sales and Marketing often knock heads is because too much emotion comes into play. Help both teams base decisions and support claims on trackable data that is transparent, verifiable and easy to understand by everyone.

If Sales thinks the lead flow was low last month, provide them with numbers from previous months so they can compare objectively. If Marketing thinks Sales isn’t converting leads into clients effectively, present them with lead data that displays the percentage of leads worked in a given month, along with conversion rates. Knowing that their efforts can be measured and analysed will help both teams remain accountable for their part of the process, as well as adding ownership around the importance of their part of the wider puzzle.

 

Create an Agreement between the Two Teams

Marketing to sales cheat-sheet

Along with transparent and easy-to-read data, one of the best ways to hold everyone accountable is by creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between your sales and marketing teams. A typical SLA outlines the work expected from both parties (and is subsequently agreed upon by both). The SLA forms the basis of performance expectations so it can be tracked month to month.
When putting the agreement together, make sure you use language that both teams will understand. Think about including the quality of leads in your SLA, because higher-quality leads are more likely to close or convert than others. Before you release it to the masses, give yourself time to test it; you may need to make tweaks before it’s perfect.

 

Integrate Your Sales & Marketing Software

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Integrating the software your Sales and Marketing teams use not only enables everyone to see what everyone else is doing on a platform that everyone can understand, it also lets you generate valuable data that both teams directly contribute to. This will allow you to track how a visitor to your site turns into a MQL, SQL and eventually a customer. A SMarketing platform like HubSpot enables Sales to track the online behaviour of their leads so they’re able to turn what might have been a cold call into something that’s more likely to get across the line. In turn, Marketing can learn where their best leads come from, which will help them target those types of leads in the future.

 

Define your Marketing to Sales Handoff Process

This is a critical part of the Sales and Marketing alignment process. Having a document that pre-defines the handoff process means that your leads will have the highest chance of converting to a customer as there are no opportunities for them to be left ‘un-nurtured’. I’ve created an example Handoff Document that you can access. It covers off the basics like

  • What are your Lead Nurturing Stages (definitions and terms)
  • What triggers movement from one stage to the next
  • What tools are used at each stage
  • Who is responsible for what

I’d encourage you to take a look at it and compare it to what you are currently doing

If you think your Sales and Marketing teams need help to work together more effectively (or less dysfunctionally) feel free to book a chat with Me.

Download our Marketing to Sales Cheat-Sheet to learn how to handle the lead on every stage of their buyer's journey.

 

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Leave a comment below and let us know how your Sales and Marketing teams work together.