How to boost pipeline, improve customer experience, increase customer retention through rock solid sales and marketing alignment.
Now more than ever — as the demands of the modern buyer continue to morph and the conversation they want to have changes direction at lightning speed — sales and marketing alignment is imperative.
All seasoned marketing and sales leaders understand the need for departmental alignment between these two vital cogs in the lead-gen machine. And the data shows it: Organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing achieved 38% higher sales win rates and retained their customers 36% more often, according to Forrester Research.
So why aren’t more sales and marketing teams aligned? This type of unity requires immense dedication, intentional effort, and collaboration. Teams that have been historically siloed, and even at odds with one another, may have difficulty when moving to a collaborative model. But collaboration and unity are easier to achieve than you think — let’s take a look at why.
We’re All Trying to Date the Same Person, Right?
The modern buyer is digitally driven, socially connected, mobile, and empowered, with unlimited access to information and people. Buyers can jump from the marketing stage of their journey to the sales stage at a moment’s notice, but that transition can be jarring if your marketing and sales are not aligned on who your target buyer is and what they need.
Establishing a fully aligned sales and marketing strategy starts with integrating the teams themselves, and taking the expertise of one to feed into the other. Let’s take a look at how to get started.
1) You Can’t Live With ‘Em, You Can’t Live Without ‘Em
Despite what many sales and marketing teams might believe about the other, each has a different responsibility on the same mission. Sales teams need marketing teams to prime the pump, recognizing brand and establishing authority, while marketing needs insights from sales to fuel strategy.
Establishing trust with today’s consumers is paramount to lead generation and successful sales — people are reluctant to engage until they feel informed. Marketing is key to establishing that trust upfront. Consider the obstacles to the sales process today, such as those outlined in a CMI/LinkedIn survey:
- 92% of prospects start the buying journey with an information search
- 53% find that going online and researching is superior to interacting with a salesperson
- 75% depend on social networks to learn about different vendors
- 90% won’t take a cold call
But sales teams have value to bring to marketing as well: they are a raging river of customer data. With insight from the trenches, sales teams can lend major insights that inform marketing strategy to ensure that a business is reaching out to the right audience, at the right time, and with the right materials. As soon as each side understands the value that the other brings, alignment can begin.
“The numbers in the CMI/LinkedIn survey underscore the power of content in creating alignment. Eight out of 10 marketers in highly aligned companies show their salespeople how and when to use the content, compared with 25% or fewer in companies with low alignment.”
2) We’re Not So Different, You and I
The first thing that marketing and sales teams should take a look at is their shared target audience.
An in-depth buyer persona and buying process map are foundational elements of the revenue chain, and sales and marketing agreement is critical. Both teams must use their knowledge to form a collective understanding of target personas, including: daily responsibilities and routines, desires and demands, and drivers to buy. Once these specifics are recognized, both sides can inform each of their processes, from call scripts to marketing campaigns.
3) On the Same Hook
One of the easiest ways to align sales and marketing departments is to give them common goals that are tied to conversion rates. Sales professionals are often paid on commission, or get bonuses from: how many demos they book, their rate of conversion from demo to opportunity, and/or the percentage of closed-won deals. Marketers’ KPIs, by contrast, are generally tied to website traffic, click-throughs, and number of leads generated.
By unifying each team under similar goals, however, the business stands to unify the mission of each team. Aligning on lead qualification criteria, defining “qualified leads,” identifying tactics and deliverables — all of these things can bring teams together and enforce success rates for meeting goals on each side.
4) Talk the Talk
Without regular communication between your teams, your ability to meet your prospects’ needs will be short-lived. Effective meetings are an open forum in which people on both teams can discuss what efforts are and are not working. They allow members of each team to better understand buyers at different stages of the journey that they don’t manage on a day-to-day basis. And meetings serve as an opportunity to reflect and brainstorm on how to improve upon strengths and address weaknesses. Plus, a consistent dialogue establishes a rapport between sales and marketing, and nurtures greater understanding and more meaningful relationships within your company and with your customers.
5) The More the Merrier
Don’t get too comfortable! Once your teams have aligned, get fresh feedback from consultants and agencies to share the issues they’ve observed. Requesting this kind of feedback surfaces critical issues you may not have learned otherwise. Many of these stakeholders are not going to proactively share these thoughts. You have to seek them out.
Take these insights to heart – they can help members of each team improve their own efforts.
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