According to a study by Forrester Research, only eight percent of B2B companies believe they have a strong alignment between sales and marketing. This is a significant problem because without effective communication and understanding between the sales and marketing team, the whole buyer journey is affected. From lead generation, to nurturing and closing deals, the entire funnel becomes a game of missed opportunities.
As Marcus Sheridan states on The Sales Lion, "the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) or at least someone in the marketing department should always be in attendance, with the main purpose to continue to instill the vision of the company’s digital and content marketing (including overall messaging) to the sales department."
Though the division of departments is a common issue, it can be easily avoided by understanding the strategies that make sales and marketing teams work together on the right path.
The first step toward improving your sales and marketing alignment is identifying weaknesses. Team leaders should meet to discuss the current problem areas and come up with next steps that help resolve these issues. Assign tasks to specific people and create roles for ongoing processes.
Align Both Teams with the Customer
An important step in getting your sales and marketing teams on track is to align both with the customer. Forget about lead generation and compensation plans for a minute and have both teams focus on the customer experience. What experience do your buyers want and value? The teams should work together to improve your relationships with customers, which obviously have an impact on your sales numbers. The former will lead to the latter if it’s done well.
Marketing and Sales (and even Customer Service!) should collaborate regularly to brainstorm content ideas. These sessions should be based on questions the customer-facing departments are getting in order to make sure that content stays up to date and caters to client needs. In turn, letting sales in on the company’s current content marketing efforts will help them understand the tools they can use to help boost sales, such as blog posts, case studies, and webinars.
Consumers are able to gain a huge amount of information about a company before they even come close to contact with the sales team. According to a study by DemanGen, nearly 82% buyers view between five to eight pieces of content from a winning vendor. This means that sales and marketing need to be working hand-in-hand to make sure that social selling efforts are streamlined and that sales is involved in the social marketing every step of the way.
Give Sales Visibility
One reason for the breakdown in communication is that the influence of marketing on the company’s revenue isn’t always obvious. Marketing should make sure that sales understands the impact of their interactions and are notified when leads are assigned, reminded of when to reach out to active prospects and alerted when prospective buyers take specific actions, whatever those may be (reaching out for pricing information, signing up for a newsletter, etc.).
Offer Sales Support
Support campaigns can be helpful to make sure that the sales team can carry out their many responsibilities. One possibility is a steady drip campaign that targets customers who said "no" initially, but who might just need more information or a stronger relationship with your company before sales can convert them. You can establish processes for reaching out to leads that asked to be followed up with at a later date. Most campaigns can be automated with the right CRM or marketing software, and they will be of huge help to the sales team in organizing and streamlining their communication efforts.
Follow this sample agenda for your sales and marketing meetings.
1. Invite both team leaders to discuss new problems they face and what they see as challenges to the company as a whole
2. Identify weaknesses
3. Discuss ways to improve upon weaknesses
4. Discuss Content Marketing Efforts (Brainstorm Content Ideas)
5. Discuss Social Selling Efforts
6. Establish concrete goals
7. Assign roles
8. Set a follow-up meeting