If your sales and marketing teams are living in different rooms of the same house, it’s time for a redesign. It’s 2016, after all, and open concepts are all the buzz. It’s no wonder: best-in-class companies that aligned sales and marketing experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue, compared to a 4% decline in laggard organizations, according to a report by Aberdeen Research.
These all-star organizations also saw 47% of sales forecasted pipeline generated by marketing, compared to an average 5% among laggard organizations.
Now that you know why you’re remodelling, let’s explore how you’re going to do it. Below are six tried-and-true tactics that will help you develop the mindset, strategy and process to align marketing and sales.
1) Strategy and process: Align leadership, teams and meet regularly
Executive buy-in is key to aligning sales and marketing teams successfully. When leaders value the process, they foster creativity, collaboration and innovation among all members of the team. And it is in this kind of environment where the sales and marketing machine thrives.
If you’re at a smaller company, scheduling 1:1 meetings between teams on a weekly basis isn’t difficult. But if you’re at a larger company, you might find this difficult to scale.
Hubspot’s Carolina Samsing best explains:
“My interest in smarketing best practices started when our Latin American sales team grew a ton in just a few weeks. Suddenly, communication between Sales and Marketing was much harder to get right. When we were a smaller team, I could meet 1:1 with each salesperson and talk about how we could help generate more (and better) leads ... but that wasn't scalable as we grew.”
Samsing spoke with each marketer to gain insights on how to work better with sales and keep expectations aligned. Among these insights were:
Arrange an onboarding “smarketing” meeting with every new salesperson so best practices are instilled from the start;
Attend the sales team’s weekly meetings to stay up to date with their quota and goals. Marketers can also use this time to share upcoming campaigns, major content assets and/or webinars; and,
Conduct monthly audits, where marketing and sales managers analyze the results of SLA’s. Key performance indicators are lead generation, MQLs and conversion rates.
When all levels of sales and marketing teams understand the strategy and processes involved they are aligned for success.
2) Mindset: It’s not a sales funnel; it’s a buyer’s journey
As seen above, Marketo describes “The New Buying Funnel” as a more marketing-demand-centric. Their integrated approach meets the modern buyer where they’re at in their journey. According to a survey by DemandGen Report, 77% of B2B buyers said they will not speak to a salesperson until they had completed their own research.
The modern buyer wants to engage with sellers on their own terms, learn from influencers and view sellers as more authentic. Depending on product value or how demand is generated, the funnel varies. Some evangelists say the lines are more blurred than ever before.
As social selling evangelist Jill Rowley likes to say, “The modern consumer is digitally driven, socially connected, and mobile empowered. Sales reps need to adapt or be replaced.”
What this quote doesn’t encapsulate is marketing’s role. Marketing and sales need to adapt together, align themselves and collaborate, or BOTH be replaced.
3) Measurement: Agree on a common set of goals
Traditional marketing metrics include brand awareness, generating qualified leads and even vanity metrics such as likes, shares and retweets; traditional sales goals include monthly or quarterly quotas and solving customer’s problems.
Teams need to craft a strategy for getting to the same revenue goal together.
ICP: The ideal customer profile is who sales and marketing decide to target. VP of sales at enterprise tech firms? Director of marketing at IT corporations? Research your ideal customer and define who they are.
MQL: Marketing Qualified Leads, commonly known as MQLs, are those people who have raised their hands (metaphorically speaking) and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become fully fledged opportunities. Ideally, you should only allow certain, designated forms to trigger the promotion of a lead to the MQL stage, specifically those that gate bottom of the funnel offers like demo requests, buying guides, and other sales-ready calls to action (Hubspot).
SQL: Sales Qualified Leads are those that your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow up. Using this stage will help your sales and marketing teams stay firmly on the same page in terms of the quality and volume of leads that you are handing over to your sales team (Hubspot).
SLA: Service level agreements are outlined for each stage of the revenue cycle. They determine how quickly the sales team will respond to an MQL, what happens if they don’t, etc. They encourage accountability and make it easier for each team to measure their results.
3) People: Sales Development Representatives (SDR’s) close the gap between marketing and sales
Kyle Poretto of NewsCred says the role of the SDR is “bridge the gap between sales and marketing.” He says there’s no denying that SDRs have several responsibilities that fall under traditional marketing functions, such as email campaigns, but ultimately, the role is hybrid. Depending on the organization, SDRs can either be a part of sales or marketing.
According to Marketo, SDRs should be doing the following:
More consistent and better follow-up on leads = better conversion of leads into opportunities
Fast lead response times = better conversion rates
Less time wasted by salespeople on unqualified leads
Prospects receive more “human touch,” which enhances lead nurturing
SDRs can enter the info on leads salespeople don’t, and get better data to marketing
The additional stage between marketing and sales improves cycle analytics
Talent development for sales — today’s SDRs might be tomorrow’s best salespeople
5) Insights: Use sales in content creation process
Content is the currency in the modern buying journey. So when it comes to your content creation process, marketers shouldn’t be the only people generating topics. Sales teams are in touch with buyers on a day-to-day basis, they have valuable insights and perspectives that can be sliced and diced into various content assets — daily blogs, ebooks, infographics or white papers. This involvement in the content process also allows them to bolster their expertise online, improving their visibility as a trusted authority in front of buyers.
If your sales team is hesitant to write their own pieces, offer to ghostwrite it for them.
6) Culture: Team building
Last but not least, no matter the size of your organization, team building helps people get to know each other. Team lunches, celebrations and outside-of-the-office gatherings “helps build trust among team members and ensures that people feel comfortable leaning on each other for support,” says Samsing.
Bottom Line: The stats don’t lie — collaboration and cooperation between sales and marketing result in peak performance. If your teams are isolated, living in silos, it’s time to break down the walls.