How marketers can work more effectively with sales Best Practices | Marketing | Sales by TAYLOR COTTER December 02, 2021 Sales and marketing teams have the same ultimate goal: revenue generation and growth. Despite this, marketing and sales do not always spend enough time aligning on goals. Sometimes marketing teams measure success by the volume of leads generated, while sales may be less concerned with volume and more concerned with quality, or the likelihood these leads will convert into paying customers. 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 revenue teams. By putting sales and marketing in lockstep, these companies keep the bottom line 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 sales teams to achieve better alignment and exceed revenue goals. Why marketing and sales alignment matters Marketers and salespeople working together smoothly and aligning their operations can create advantages for 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 low-quality 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 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 repurposing assets, 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 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 are still fundamental differences between marketing and sales. There are a few things that marketers can do to better understand salespeople and improve the value they deliver to sales. Sit in on sales calls The best marketers do this regularly. By sitting in on one with sales each week, marketers can get insight into the results of their programs. Learn more about the characteristics of a good (or bad) lead, what the biggest concerns are, how they describe a problem they are trying to solve, and if your marketing materials resonate with prospects. Understand the sales funnel Marketers know how the sales funnel works: leads get qualified, turn into prospects, then opportunities, 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? A unified customer relationship management (CRM) system, like Insightly, 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 CRM data to extract customer insights and learnings to inform programs and initiatives. Review sales results We all know the sales process doesn’t end when we generate a lead. Your sales team is likely using their CRM to collect 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 Create a comprehensive content plan that includes blog posts, tutorials, videos, and other agreed-upon resources that sales management and account executives can share with prospective customers. Also, figure out the best ways to repurpose materials in different formats so that you can maximize the value of every piece of content you produce. 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 a plan that includes post content and suggested language. 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 An ideal 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 bottom line. 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. A unified platform for sales and marketing, like Insightly, can help to keep both teams in sync from lead generation through conversion and ongoing customer engagement campaigns. Conclusion We are all striving toward perfect sales and marketing alignment. Consider the value that each team can provide to one another when interacting and planning your joint revenue efforts. What tools, processes, and elements of culture can help your sales and marketing teams to better collaborate and tackle challenges? Marketing trends | Sales & marketing alignment | Sales & marketing alignment | Sales management | Sales process | Sales team TAYLOR COTTER Taylor Cotter is a content marketer and social media strategist who has worked with leading B2B software companies to increase their reach and exceed their customer acquisition goals. Taylor is passionate about marketing that sits at the intersection of creativity and functionality. You can learn more about her at taylorcotter.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.