It’s important to remember that sales and marketing are not separate divisions, but one team chasing the same goal.
Marketing is doing everything in their power to reach prospective customers that will be a good fit, and sales is doing all they can to turn those leads into sales dollars. But if these teams aren’t in sync, expectations can’t always be met, and opportunities to expand your customer base (not to mention your revenue) can fall through the proverbial cracks.
In fact, better sales and marketing alignment will result in annual revenue growth. Companies with less aligned sales and marketing teams reported an average of 7% decline in revenue. Change is uncomfortable, but if your sales and marketing departments are still operating as separate entities, it’s likely time for a change.
Here are some tactics to better align your sales and marketing teams for future success!
- Aligned Goals & Objectives
More often than not, marketing and sales have different goals stemming from misunderstood roles — especially when they’re organized by function.
Both have objectives that depend on one another. Marketing needs to show their ROI based on revenue coming into the company, and they depend on sales to bring in those returns. On the other hand, for sales to make those returns, they need marketing to send them quality leads to close.
Once the two departments have defined shared goals and objectives (ensuring they are S.M.A.R.T. goals), together they can then begin to develop specific strategies to hit their targets and achieve their objectives.
- Clear Roles & Definitions
What responsibility do sales and marketing have to one another?
This is the big question that, if left unanswered, can lead to different departments pointing fingers at one another. A great way to eliminate potential confusion is to have a clear SLA, or Service Level Agreement. A comprehensive SLA will serve as a guide for how marketing will deliver quality AND quantity leads to sales, and how sales will follow up on those leads according to an agreed time and frequency between the two departments.
The results that are created by sales and marketing inherently depend on the efforts of the other team. When one slips, it’s only natural to blame the other. That’s why you need both working as one team and a clear internal SLA type agreement in place to ensure expectations of each are met.
An SLA should clearly outline expectations around the following:
- Lead Qualification
- Lead Nurturing
- Average Number of Leads Generated by Marketing
- Average Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate
- Shared Goals
- Lead Management Tactics
- Key Performance Indicators
Creating an SLA between your sales and marketing teams will create that win-win situation for both sales and marketing!
Your next task is to review your lead definitions. The qualities that make for a promising lead can be a huge source of disagreement between sales and marketing.
Reviewing the lead process and its’ definitions will help to decide if definitions need changing, which campaigns need to be scrapped, and which channels are not producing quality leads.
- Eliminate Functional Separation
Divisions may make budgeting and office layouts tidier, but they can also turn into silos, encouraging a disconnect between departments. When issues in communication or alignment arise, this can lead to finger-pointing and blame being placed on other divisions.
Because of the change to customer-focused arrangements, sales and marketing are more focused on the needs of their target customer and aligning their tactics accordingly. Take a critical look at your organization, and you may find that the structure you currently have in place may be putting up unnecessary walls between teams that ought to be driving for the same goals.
- Consistent Communication
Effective communication between sales and marketing is imperative, as these teams should help each other in everything they do—not just when fires need to be put out. Regular communication can help to tackle problems more quickly and effectively, and can prevent larger problems from arising over time.
Think of it this way: sales is the pilot flying the plane, and marketing is the navigation system. They depend on the communication between one another to get the job done.
Allotting time for weekly meetings between sales and marketing gives both teams the opportunity to bring up issues that need resolving, and will help to prevent team members from struggling along on their own with small pain points until they get too large to fix.
Furthermore, it’s important to see your progress as a team and react together. Teams that take time to review their progress together are well-equipped to improve together—and when goals aren’t being met, it’s easier to coordinate and make a team effort to resolve it.
Don’t be afraid to take people away from their role for a couple hours to learn the ins and outs of another role. It’s impossible for sales and marketing to work together effectively if they’re in the dark about each other’s daily tasks and processes. Setting time aside for sales and marketing departments to shadow each other will, invariably, bring up tons of questions, and will impact the way they do their jobs in the future.
- Content Collaboration
The best way for people to learn something new is to make them write about it. Content collaboration is a great tactic to align your sales and marketing teams—not to mention that the end result can become awesome content for your company’s blog!
For an example exercise, ask your marketing team to identify popular or valuable topics regarding sales, and start creating a blog series around it. This will get the ball rolling for more conversation between your sales and marketing teams, and will encourage marketing to learn about topics such as sales reporting, sales metrics, sales calls and everything there is to know about what it means to receive good lead.
By collaborating through content, sales and marketing have the opportunity to learn about each other’s roles and, ultimately, better understand the customer journey.
It’s Time to Align.
Now that you’ve read the tactics to improve alignment, consider how you could implement them in your company today. They may seem simple while reading them, but the truth is that they will often require some extra efforts.
Take your time and decide what will work for your company, as well as what won’t. Even if your only implement a few of these tactics, you’ll be off to a great start in aligning your sales and marketing teams for the better, and your compan