No questions, no messing around, your sales and marketing need to be aligned!

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Some people think that sales people can be rude, too quick to get to the point and have absolutely no sense of how to build a relationship. They picture a fruit and veg LAD in London shouting “3 pound for a pound!” Many others think that marketing people have more fluff in them than my child’s (I’m a new Dad, read all about it!) favourite cuddly toy. The truth is, those stereotypes once had some merit but really, sales and marketing departments should have the same goals. As I wrote about in my last blog, they need to be aligned for your company to have any chance of success.

“Misalignment between sales and marketing costs B2B companies 10% or more of revenue”– Hubspot

Let’s get started

There’s a lot more detail about the benefits of alignment in “Why you can’t rely on the gift of one big sale this Christmas” and I promised you then that I’d give you an insight into the how, so let’s start. The first step is to hire a revenue officer to manage the income streams of every department. Then the fun begins.

Marketing first

A sale is a lot more likely to close if it starts before a salesperson has ever contacted a potential client. This happens by using a “marketing first” approach. Marketers will find ways of communicating with leads that have a specific problem and highlight how you’ll solve it by using the features and benefits of your offer. They’ll know who to contact and what to provide because of an integrated sales and marketing funnel in which marketing lend a hand at every stage of the sales process.

Funnel stages

Let’s break that down…

·      Marketing help sales to prospect and qualify leads by defining common criteria.

·      Marketing help sales to define needs and develop value propositions.

·      Marketing guide sales solutions by providing templates and guides that stop the need for constant reinvention.

·      Marketing provide case studies, success stories and objection handling material to help address any client worries before they make a decision.

·      Marketing advise sales during contract negotiations on things like planning and pricing.

You might notice that each bullet point starts with “Marketing…” but it’s not all one way. Sales should be helping marketing at every stage by gathering information, feeding back on successes and failures and using their client relationships to advise on strategic decisions. That combined knowledge will be key when sales are ready to close the deal.

“There is no question that, when Sales and Marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.” – Harvard Business Review

Measuring performance

Key to getting Marketing and Sales to work together is making sure that their combined efforts are being measured and rewarded fairly. If the departments are integrated, the performance measurement should have at least some level of integration too. Joining up some KPIs (Key performance indicators) will give both departments a common goal. They are more likely to unite if they both want to achieve the same thing. That integration also makes it easier to analyse your business across the board. If there is a weak part of your funnel, you can fix it.

Rewarding success

If both teams are being measured together, it is only right that they are rewarded together too. That doesn’t mean that individual salespeople can’t earn commission and marketing teams can’t have a level of separate bonuses, it means that the results of their joint efforts should be compensated equally. Setting up a joint revenue target will help with this and that’s where having a revenue officer makes a big difference.

The secret to success in my business is collaboration. Nothing can be achieved in our industry without bringing people together” – Julian Douglas, Vice Chairman, VCCP

Keep talking to each other

Even with all of this in place, a lack of communication will mean all of this is for nothing. Regular meetings between marketing and sales will flush out any challenges and give everyone a chance to see how they are performing against joint metrics. Make the meetings purposeful, make them quick and be adaptable. I’ve gone into the importance of adaptability here.

Say Hi!

One step at a time

Everything I talk about in sales leadership has a theme: Incremental steps. Not everything has to be done at once but moving towards integrated sales and marketing teams will have a huge benefit to your customers and therefore on your business. I work with start-ups and larger global clients to get the most out of their teams. If you’d like some advice on how to scale up, combine sales and marketing teams or how to make the most out of staff working from home, say hello. You can find me on LinkedIn or Skype (joshswerdlow).

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