From the dawn of recorded history, it’s been widely accepted that two is better than one. We can consider Adam and Eve, peanut butter and jelly, and C-3PO and R2D2 among the infinite number of examples that prove this theory.
Today, we’re going to talk about a duo that has, for quite some time, been reluctant to partner up – the equivalent of a bride and groom at a shotgun wedding. We are of course talking about sales and marketing, two very critical business units to any organization that would rather fling their toys at each other than play nicely.
Indeed, sales and marketing have a history of what I’ll call non-cooperation.
But a cadre of megatrends – a digital revolution, global pandemic, and hyper-charged marketplace – have these groups reassessing their relationship. With so much competition, and so much at stake, the name of the game is harmony.
In fact, it’s remarkable what can happen when sales and marketing join proverbial hands for the greater good. Research conducted by LinkedIn and Forrester Research (who clearly understand the benefits of working together!) found that 85 percent of sales and marketing leaders agree that such alignment is the best opportunity for improving business performance; that percentage jumps to 90 percent when considering the positive impacts on the customer experience.
The proof positive: This aligned approach not only brings more people in the door and reaps both better business results and better revenue, but it greatly improves the experience for the customer – making them more likely to stay with you.
Though we’re not saying that you need to agree upon everything, this same study found that there really are four key areas that, when focused upon, can foster stronger, more sustainable alignment between marketing and sales.
1. Develop a Common Scorecard
In many cases, sales and marketing are collaborating on the same campaigns and targeting the same customers or personas, but the success metrics, by design, are different. This means, however, that though they’re trying to work toward a common purpose, they’re measuring outcomes differently. In many cases, sales and marketing departments have different leaders with different leadership styles – a reality that drives this gap even wider. One thing to consider: Create a common scorecard. This will foster agreement on such items as what constitutes a marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, sales accepted lead, KPIs, and other measurements. This will really come in handy when you are jointly executing on sales and marketing initiatives. You’ll work together better.
2. Align Your Processes
It’s almost universal – 97 percent of sales and marketing professionals report issues with process alignment. That’s because often, these groups have different departmental methods or tools that are not integrated or have little in common. So, for example, somebody from marketing is collecting data from a lead, then passing it on to sales to follow up – with no visibility as to the result of that interaction. It’s critical to get your systems, and your people, talking to each other to really improve that collaboration between sales and marketing – so the handoff is smooth.
As an example, I was working with a client not long ago, who had purchased seats for their CRM system for all their salespeople, but they only provided one shared seat for marketing. This prevented the smooth transfer of information between teams, thus getting in the way of process communication.
3. Get to a Common Message
The study also found that 97 percent of sales and marketing leaders feel their content messaging is not aligned. When you think about this, it does make sense: Often, marketing is charged with creating messaging that’s very product focused, heavy on top-line brand awareness. On the other side of the coin, sales is looking for content that’s more solution focused – messaging that illustrates how the offering addresses the customer’s biggest challenges, needs, and wants. So, you have two departments, operating in silos, creating different messaging – creating unnecessary frustration for the consumer and making the sales mountain even harder to climb.
We’ve had input from sales professionals who recognize that, though marketing creates these great campaigns, they tend to land flat with customers – either they’re not aligned with the personas, or they don’t reflect the issues that their customers are telling us they’re having. This is why cross-departmental collaboration and communication – with an eye toward telling both sides of the story – are critical.
4. Get on the Same Page, Culturally
Ultimately, this may represent the underlying theme of these four keys – if you can get your cultural alignment squared away, then the rest will follow. You’ll find that an aligned culture leads to better strategic alignment, better process alignment, and better content messaging alignment.
In the instances where such cultural discord exists, sales professionals lament the fact that there’s little to no coordinated planning between the two departments, and no depth to the communication. At The Brooks Group, one way we combat this reality is to have weekly joint meetings between sales and marketing. This gives both departments an equal platform to review a common scorecard, discuss campaigns, and constantly wrench the alignment paradigm even tighter.
So, what’s the risk of keeping your sales and marketing in silos? In short, EVERYTHING. One study found that continued misalignment between these two groups can cost companies up to 10 percent in lost revenue every year…
Do you need help presenting your value proposition with one face, one voice, one consistent message, and one reaction to customer requests? Give us a call.