BY STEFAN KARPOWICZ
While most small and medium sized businesses employ both a sales team and a marketing team, there is often a lapse in the ability for these two departments to work together to achieve a common goal. In fact, according to a study done by Forrester, only 8% of companies have strong alignment between these two departments. Misalignment between marketing and sales can cause major challenges for a business as the modern customer is able to identify any discrepancies in either departments’ playbooks, and this will deter them from continuing on the sales journey. Below are 5 quick tips that you can implement immediately to help your sales and marketing teams work together.
ONE: Schedule regular check-ins with leaders from both departments
Poor communication is the leading cause for misalignment between sales and marketing, which is why this tip is the most important. Whether it is in-person or via an online platform, having a routine schedule in which both teams meet is crucial if you want to take a step in the right direction. None of the below tips can be implemented to its fullest ability if these two departments can not come together on a regular basis. Depending on the size of your organization, you may choose to have just the leaders of each department sit in (i.e. CMO, Director of Marketing, Sales Director, Sales Manager). If you are smaller in size, it may be worth it to have all members take part in these meetings as it will help close the culture gap between the two departments and will help achieve tip # 3, understanding each others strengths and weaknesses.
TWO: Make sure both departments collaborate on your content strategy
An article written by the Content Marketing Institute shows that 60-70% of all B2B content created is not actually used by the sales team that it is intended for. In most cases, this is because the sales team does not see the content being created as valuable to share with prospective clients. This is largely due to the sales and marketing team not collaborating on content generation. Without alignment in this regard, the marketing team can often create content that does not convey the type of message or highlight the selling features of the product or service that the sales team would use to nurture a lead. In order for the marketing team to fulfill its responsibility of arming the sales team with strong, relevant content, both departments need to have joint content strategy meetings. From there, the marketing team can generate content such as case studies, infographics, articles, or other promotional material that the sales team can be confident in sharing with prospective clients.
This type of alignment will also improve the qualification of leads generated by both teams. The marketing team must have a strong understanding of what the sales team is looking for in a prospective client. Similarly, the sales team needs to understand the process set in place for inbound leads as they are more likely to become a client if nurtured properly throughout the sales journey. In fact, nurtured leads experience a 23% shorter sales cycle. Therefore, it is imperative to have proper alignment with respect to the overall goals of the company as it can turn a qualified lead into a client at a much faster rate.
THREE: Ensure that both teams know each other’s strengths and weaknesses
Each department has a specific skill set that they use day-in and day-out to help the company generate revenue. In many cases, these skill sets do not overlap amongst both teams. For example, sales representatives may not be versed in Google Analytics, search engine optimization, or graphic design. Similarly, the marketing team may not have experience with following a sales process, cold calling potential clients, or communication strategies that lead to closing a deal. That is why it is important that both teams understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. By understanding the capabilities of each department, you can set specific expectations for one another and can once again, improve your alignment from a performance perspective. This is particularly evident when the marketing team is working to create tailored content to be used for business development. A sales team’s objective is to build and retain relationships, and so the stronger the understanding of how the sales team goes about doing this, the better the marketing team can tailor their content.
FOUR: Understand that both teams are responsible for driving revenue
In many organizations, there is a sense of competition between the two teams. Both are responsible for helping to grow the company and generate revenue in their own capacity; sales through sourcing new leads, and marketing through generating inbound leads. And while competition can be healthy for the organization, it can sometimes create a divide that negatively affects cohesion and teamwork. When it comes to keeping track of each teams performance, make sure that your CRM clearly identifies how both efforts are contributing to the overall targets of the company. As previously mentioned, competition can be encouraged amongst the two departments if it is done in a light-hearted fashion. For example, from a lead generation perspective, introducing a SPIFF that awards the team that brings in the most leads (inbound vs. outbound) can be very healthy for the business.
FIVE: Plan events that include both departments
It is very beneficial for the sales and marketing team to bond in an out-of-office environment. Something as simple as a quarterly outing will help to build and maintain stronger relationships amongst both departments. Getting to know one-another as individuals helps to build trust, and encourages team cohesion in further projects together. The bottom line is that sales and marketing go hand-in-hand and whether they like it or not, they are partners that strive to achieve a common goal. Therefore, they need to work together and support one another to help grow the business. The quicker you can align both departments, the quicker you will experience the many benefits that come along with it.
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