I recently read an excellent book called The Excellence Dividend by Tom Peters—an ex-McKinsey consultant whose consulting practice now focuses on customer experience and customer excellence. In his book, Peters talks about the importance of cross-functional alignment. And I whole-heartedly agree!
I’m a strong believer in cross-functional alignment between sales and marketing. Why? Lack of alignment is one of the greatest areas of friction between these two revenue-driving areas of your company—and in fact is one of the greatest deterrents to sales pipeline growth in the 21st century. Without that alignment, you’re missing out on important sales pipeline growth opportunities.
Bringing these two areas together can be a challenge. Sales and marketing are two different departments that are being measured and accountable for two different things. Sellers view their job as being in the field, meeting customers, writing proposals, and winning deals. Marketing is focused on brand affinity and top-of-the-funnel leads. They rarely come together with a shared sense of accountability, which is typically around the creation of sales qualified leads.
What can you do to improve your sales and marketing alignment? Here are two innovative ways to bring sales and marketing together and increase your sales pipeline growth.
1.Eat lunch together. Full disclosure: I took this idea from Tom Peters. Cross-functional departments need to have lunch together, which allows the teams the opportunity to exchange ideas over 30 minutes or an hour in a relaxed setting. Making this a regular occurrence allows your sales and marketing teams to talk about new initiatives, campaigns, and problems in the market, and objections from customers. In other words, both departments can start walking a mile in the other’s shoes.
The outcome? Each person on the sales team will become an extension of the brand—they’ll be micro-marketers, of sorts. And they will then represent the brand in their individual territory or market. They will be more creative and insightful through sharing content much earlier in the customer’s journey. As for marketing, they’ll become more accountable for sales quotas and activities. They will learn to create a structure around content creation and campaign distribution and execution that will drive meaningful revenue impact.
2.Create an insights committee. If you follow our blogs, you’re already familiar with the concept of developing a formalized insights committee. If you’re not familiar, here’s how it works. Sales and marketing get together regularly in a boardroom, where they take an ideal customer profile and create content based on that specific customer. They brainstorm all the questions the buyer thinks about every day and document those questions, and brainstorm content ideas to dispel myths, create best practices, and answer those questions. These ideas then become the basis for the content creation strategy.
These are two simple things you can do – both are experiential events or meet-ups between sales and marketing (we call them collision points) – to build cross-functional growth.