To effectively gather leads and turn them into customers, sales and marketing alignment is essential. When these teams work well together, the sales and marketing funnels can flow seamlessly, bringing in more leads, closing more sales, and making customers happier. But if they don’t work together well, leads can be dropped, the wrong market may be targeted, and it can seem impossible to patch the leaks between the sales and marketing funnels. If sales and marketing alignment is one of your primary goals this year, start with these tips.
9 Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment
“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
When marketing and sales work together, this maxim quickly rings true. However, for too many businesses (over half, according to Hubspot) marketing and sales either don’t work well together, or may even work against each other. So how can you create sales and marketing alignment? It starts with communication.
When teams feel comfortable confronting problems together, they can be solved. If you’ve noticed that your marketing team isn’t communicating with the sales team regularly—or that communication isn’t effective—you probably see the same roadblocks coming up again and again. Try these tips to bring the marketing team and sales team to the table to effectively, tactfully, communicate.
1. Regularly Scheduled Meetings
If your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned and aren’t used to communicating regularly, this might be difficult at first. To start, highlight the need to share information and address a shared strategy. You might hold sales and marketing meetings monthly to address new campaigns and strategies, quarterly to address benchmarks, and annually to discuss ways to improve.
2. Tactful Problem Solving
Your marketing team may feel that sales is not pursuing the leads that they work so hard to bring in. Sales may feel that the marketing team doesn’t provide enough leads, or doesn’t provide quality leads. Encourage managers to use data to support their position and state problems without finding fault. If either team feels attacked, they’re unlikely to solve any problems.
3. Asking for Help
The sales team will probably hear about customer objections more often than the marketing team, but the marketing team can’t make content to address these objections unless they work with sales. Encourage each group to ask for help and to collaborate on projects. For example, a content writer might interview a salesperson to address a common customer objection in an ebook. Or a salesperson might work with an ad manager to improve visibility in a particular market.
Neither sales nor marketing should have to guess what the other is doing, what information they’re using, or what information they’re presenting to customers. When each group has access to each other’s resources, they can each make the most well-informed decisions. If either group feels unsure about this level of information sharing, you might use permissions to limit editing powers.
4. Shared Content
To achieve marketing and sales alignment, you’ll need to reduce barriers and eliminate functional and information silos as much as possible. Give both teams access to all available resources. For marketers, this means making the campaign, downloads, and offers at every stage of the sales funnel available to the sales team. You might do this through a interdepartmental email, shared folder, or shared Google doc, so they can easily be referenced by all parties.
5. Abridged Content
Your marketing team dedicates their time to understanding prospective customers, developing a strategy that will capture their interest, and creating content for lead nurturing. The sales team, on the other hand, is focused on communicating with prospects, solving their problems, and closing the sale. If your marketing content is effective, some leads will ask about it or refer to it, which is a problem for sales staff who didn’t have time to read it. Give the sales team an abridged version of your strategy and a summary of the content offers so they can communicate with prospects about them, without taking too much time away from the sales strategy.
6. Shared Data
Within your marketing department you should keep track of a number of digital marketing KPIs to inform your strategy, like traffic, leads, expenses and conversion rates. The sales department will also have informative KPIs, like the close rate, sales growth, and lifetime customer value. Unless sales and marketing data is combined, each team only has half the story. Again, give each department total visibility. The best way to do this is through a collective CRM system, where data on leads, sales and customers is collected and updated automatically. You might also present this data collectively and provide business insights to ensure it is fully understood.
Cooperation, Not Competition
In competitive business environments, it’s easy for both marketers and salespeople to fall into defense mode. If shortcomings are met with retribution—lost bonuses, tighter budgets, losing staff—and achievements are rewarded per person or per department, competition will inevitably result in blaming, even sabotage. Create a more balanced reward system that doesn’t pit sales and marketing against each other. When the marketing and sales teams problem-solve and improve together—instead of succeeding or failing separately—they can collectively focus on the process as well as the results.
7. Collective Definitions
What is a lead? What is a good lead? What is a good customer? Your marketing and sales teams probably have different answers to these questions. These answers probably won’t stay the same year to year, either. You won’t be able to communicate effectively unless you agree on what makes a good lead, prospect, and customer. When each team agrees on proper lead scoring and on what defines a good lead, prospect, and customer, you can be sure you’re targeting the right markets.
8. Collective Goals
If the marketing team doesn’t attract enough leads, it’s difficult for the sales team to meet their quota. At the same time, if the sales team doesn’t close enough leads, it reflects poorly on the marketing department. Making cooperative goals ensures that everyone agrees on the same leads and sales numbers, as well as the same steps. For example, the marketing team may agree to qualify leads more specifically, and the sales team may agree to pursue all leads more often, in more ways.
9. Visible Strategy
Repeating information, asking the same questions, or providing the same resources multiple times will quickly make leads and prospects lose interest. To prevent this, sales and marketing should know what each team is asking, what content they are using, and why. Meeting regularly to discuss sales and marketing strategies can help everyone stay on the same page.
Both sales and marketing are ultimately focused on creating happy customers, bringing in more of them, and winning more purchases. With sales and marketing alignment, each group can focus on this goal, and they can each benefit from each other’s efforts, instead of working in contention. When these groups work together, you’ll quickly find that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.