It used to be that the marketing department lived in the world of branding and brochures and the sales department operated in a silo with little to no contact with them.
Things have changed, however.
Because prospects and customers have more control over who they see and when they see them as it relates to purchasing products and services, the level of effectiveness of the marketing department can either make or break the chances sales has of getting in front of the buyer. In short, the messaging marketing publishes can either get sales the appointment or compel the buyer to go elsewhere.
Insight: Buyers are spending more time researching online before they purchase and, according to Sirius Decisions, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. That doesn’t mean that sales is absent completely from the early buying stages, but it does emphasize the need for sales and marketing leadership to become aligned around messaging, strategy, and tactics.
Here are 4 Tips for Ensuring Sales and Marketing Alignment
1. Specify the Metrics that Matter
Agreeing on what defines a qualified lead has been an age-old debate between marketing and sales, but in a time when marketing impacts lead generation more than ever, it’s crucial that both sides get tight on the metrics and qualities that define a sales qualified lead. There needs to be a certain level of accountability on each side, and the definition of a “qualified sales lead” needs to be clearly communicated.
There should be an established set of expectations around the quantity and quality of leads marketing pushes over to Sales. The same goes for response times and closing ratios once sales receives those leads. According to Marketo, when sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies increased deal closing by 67%.
2. Schedule a Regular Sales and Marketing Alignment Meeting- and Stick to It
What contributes to alignment more than anything is disciplined communication, and a regularly scheduled sales and marketing alignment meeting is ideal for that. Set aside a time for regular alignment meetings and use this time as an opportunity to get crystal clear on a campaign strategy and execution both sides agree on. The most effective and impactful campaigns will be a result of the combined knowledge and insight from both teams—sales has a better understanding of your organization’s ideal customer and what’s happening in the field, while marketing possesses the skills needed to best articulate your message and branding.
Marketing is not only responsible for sending the right messages about your organization and products, but also for positioning your salespeople as subject matter experts in the eyes of your potential customers. An alignment meeting offers the chance for leaders from both teams to determine the strategies and processes that best position your organization and sales team in the eyes of your prospects.
3. Map Content to Your Organization’s Sales Process
If your marketing team is trained with the same sales process that the sales team uses on a daily basis, the resources and tools that they create will be consistent with the way your people sell, and the way in which your customers want to buy. In this sense, providing sales training to your organization’s marketing team can benefit communication both internally and with the prospects you hope to turn into satisfied customers. This case study on PQS Systems reflects that type of alignment success.
Well-executed and intentional collateral that is aligned with the sales process is the best way to encourage healthy flow through the sales funnel. Thought provoking articles, videos that simplify complex solutions, and ROI calculators are a few effective ways to nudge prospects that have gotten stuck somewhere in the sales funnel.
4. Create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) Between Sales and Marketing
It’s one thing to say that you will make efforts to align sales and marketing, and another to actually follow through with those commitments. Make sure that alignment is in fact a priority among department leaders and develop a Service Level Agreement between both teams to ensure accountability. With a formal contract, both sales and marketing will understand the expectations they are to meet and will be aware that their partnership is necessary in order to reach the shared goal of increased sales effectiveness.
At the end of the day sales and marketing perform for the same team. Successful selling is somewhat of a relay race; regardless of who crosses the finish line with a win, there was a team behind them working together to move the baton forward. When the team is working in alignment, the finish line is that much easier to cross.