Sales and marketing teams have the same ultimate goal: generate revenue for the company. Marketing does this by running programs that cast a wide net to collect leads. Sales teams follow up on those leads, qualifying and converting them into customers.
Despite this, marketing and sales do not always align their day-to-day goals. For example, sometimes marketing teams measure success by the volume of leads generated. Sales may be less concerned with volume and more concerned with quality. Do these leads turn into deals, and how big?
This misalignment has led to tension between sales and marketing teams. It also leads to companies missing revenue targets. Because of this, many companies have made strides to align marketing and sales teams. You may hear these referred to as ‘smarketing’ or ‘revenue’ teams. By putting sales and marketing in lockstep, these companies keep the bottomline top-of-mind.
If you’re a marketer, navigating a move toward marketing and sales alignment can be a challenge. You may need to make changes in your day-to-day work. Here are a few ways marketers can work with salespeople to achieve better alignment and meet revenue goals.
Why marketing and sales need to have a good relationship
Marketers and salespeople working together smoothly and aligning their operations can create advantages that benefit both teams.
Improved lead management
Your junior sales team likely spends the bulk of their time qualifying leads. They use an integrated CRM, online research, email and phone conversations to determine if leads have the potential to turn into customers. Instead of following up on non-useful leads, sales can use this time to start to warm up leads who fit their ideal customer profile.
This gap begins to close when sales and marketing work together to create a lead scoring and grading models to qualify leads. Once sales and marketing agree on lead qualification criteria, they’ll reduce friction between the teams and start improving lead conversion rates. It may take some time and testing to figure out the best lead qualification model, but as long as sales and marketing are working in tandem with each other, they’ll be able to find what works best faster.
Sales can leverage marketing programs
Once these leads are qualified, sales teams are responsible for converting them to customers. Here’s where marketing can help. Marketers have content, programs, designs and events that can be repurposed into sales collateral. Sometimes there is a dedicated product marketer who focuses on using marketing to enable sales. This is especially useful during a sales blitz, an outbound sales campaign common with account-based marketing (ABM).
A marketing blog post can become a case study. A webinar can become a product tutorial. A trade show can be a way for a potential customer to meet your team. By leveraging these already-created properties, marketing provides sales reps with more tools to help them guide customers through the buying journey and close deals.
Integrated programs have the best chance of success
Companies are moving away from ‘spray-and-pray’ marketing to hyper-targeted, integrated campaigns. If your company is using account-based marketing, the buy-in of sales and marketing is crucial. ABM campaigns require sales results, account management expertise, agile digital marketing, and creative thinking. Your marketing and sales leadership must be in lockstep as to how the campaign will operate, who is responsible for each aspect, and how to measure its success. If your marketing and sales teams aren’t on the same page, your ABM campaign will struggle—or fail outright.
How marketing can better understand sales
Even when teams are integrated, there is a fundamental difference between marketing and sales. Marketing professionals are like the film directors, who use their creativity and analytical thinking behind-the-scenes. Our goal is to set up all the elements for success. Salespeople are the actors. They bring the vision to life. Directors and actors are both necessary for a film to exist. Both need specific skills and experience.
There are a few things that marketers can do to better understand salespeople:
Sit in on sales calls
The best marketers—and marketing leaders—do this regularly. By sitting in on one with sales each week, marketers can get insight into the results of their programs. You can learn the traits of a good (or bad) lead, what their biggest concerns are, and if your marketing materials resonate with prospects.
Understand the sales funnel
Marketers likely have a loose idea of how the sales funnel works. Leads get qualified, then turn into prospects, then customers. Yet, sales teams know the ins-and-outs of their funnel specifically. Perhaps there’s a smoking gun that can tell a salesperson that someone is a great potential customer. Conversely, there may be a red flag that tells a sales rep that someone should be disqualified immediately. Are there specifics that impact your company’s sales process? As the marketing team learns these, they can focus on generating leads that are a better fit for the funnel.
Integrate and align your customer relationship process
We all know there’s a slew of sales and marketing tools out there. Yet, what about tools that align the goals of marketing with the goals of sales? Aunifiedcustomer relationship management (CRM) system is the first step in orienting marketing and sales results. Sales management uses a CRM to organize and manage sales processes and customer interactions. Marketing can use the CRM data to extract customer insights and learnings to inform programs and initiatives.
Review sales results
As a marketer, we often focus on lead data. If we are generating leads, we’re doing our job. Right?
No. We all know the sales process doesn’t end when we generate a lead. Your sales team is likely using their CRM tocollect and crunch plenty of sales-related information. This shows how leads move through the funnel and how they convert to customers.
Three ways marketers can become indispensable to salespeople
Once marketers understand how the sales process works, there are a few easy ways we can help sales close more and bigger deals.
Provide them with content to help warm leads and close deals
Identify blog posts, tutorials, videos, and other resources that sales management and account executives can share with prospective customers. This helps potential customers learn about your solution without creating new product marketing material.
Offer social media training and reviews
Many sales managers rely on social networks like LinkedIn to help them qualify or prospect. Marketers can offer reviews and recommendations to sales’ social media accounts, as well as provide content.
Create loyalty programs to improve customer engagement
Marketing doesn’t end once the deal is closed. Implementing best practices in customer engagement can improve customer experience. This gives salespeople more leverage in offering benefits to customers.
How salespeople can help marketers
Sales teams can also help marketers improve programs, which in turn generate better leads. Here are a few specific ways that salespeople can provide insight to marketing.
Help marketers build an ideal customer profile
Anideal customer profile is a comprehensive account of your company’s perfect customer. Ideal customer profiles are crucial for account-based marketing and targeting enterprise-level customers. An ICP relies on sales information to understand the process by which the ideal customer goes through the sales funnel. Marketers can integrate both quantitative and qualitative sales results into the profile.
Identify customer advocates
Customer testimonials strengthen marketing. There’s no better way to convince a new customer than the recommendation of a current customer. Along with customer success, salespeople can help marketing identify strong customer advocates who can be quoted on the website and speak at marketing events.
Measure marketing return-on-investment
You don’t know if your marketing program is successful until you get regular feedback from sales and see the final bottomline. Request regular reporting from the sales team on the results of marketing programs, including revenue generated from specific campaigns. Incorporating this assessment will ensure that marketing programs align with sales success.
We are all striving toward perfect sales and marketing alignment. Yet, even when all the software, numbers and spreadsheets line up, actually working together presents some new challenges. Consider the value that each team can provide to one another when interacting and planning your joint revenue efforts.