Just how well do your sales and marketing teams interact? Can you point to tangible achievements as a result of close sales/marketing collaboration? Or is the situation more akin to military platoons advancing with little or no contact with one another?
In fact, many businesses are still chasing the elusive goal of optimum sales and marketing alignment. Even in an era of advanced marketing automation, “marketing technology and processes have yet to turn the sales and marketing boxing ring into a night of candlelit dinners,” observes B2B marketing expert Laura Ramos.
As we all know, today’s consumers (both B2B and B2C) are far better informed about your products or services than in times past. This has substantially affected what we consider the sales cycle, since it’s rare for a salesperson to address a prospect who has no idea who they are or what they represent.
But it’s important to point out that what prospects do know is largely based on materials (in print and online) generated by a company’s marketing team. So if the sales team isn’t kept up to date on these materials, it can enter the sales conversation at a disadvantage—either looking unprepared or out of step with the latest marketing message your business is promoting.
Either way, that lack of alignment can mean the difference between closing a deal or losing the prospect to another, more closely aligned competitor.
Here are tips on getting sales and marketing on the same page, thus benefiting both your business and your customers:
- Always be communicating! A renewed emphasis on cross-departmental communications is a great first step in achieving proper alignment. Select an individual from each department to meet regularly (at least once a week) to keep each other informed on new lead generation, updated marketing materials, suggestions for new initiatives, and so on. Quarterly meetings between the entire teams is another potentially fruitful exercise.
- Review the marketing message on your website and in your collateral materials. It’s vitally important that everyone be “in sync” on the message you present to the target audience. When branding inconsistencies occur—between sales hand-outs and digital messaging, for example—the sales team may emphasize a range of features and benefits at odds with what the marketing team is pushing.
To offset potential customer confusion, closely review all the material that represents your business in print, on the web and in social media. Ask the sales team for input on how to better frame a branding message that genuinely connects with prospects (rather than just makes your company look good). Get sales involved in the actual creation of materials, thus reflecting their own experience in the field.
- Align sales and marketing metrics. It’s likely your sales and marketing teams are tracking different information and employing different analytic models. If so, confusion is likely to ensue. The key is devising a system that both teams can use to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of a sales campaign or marketing initiative, how best to nurture a warm lead, and the numbers of leads that convert per month and quarter. Collaborative analysis can also point to any gaps in data that may be contributing to a decline in sales.
Sometimes a friendly rivalry can spring up between sales and marketing teams. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as everyone understands and agrees upon the final goal—acquiring new customers and retaining the ones you have. Closer alignment of these two necessary departments will tilt the odds of future success in your favor.
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