Often sought after but rarely achieved, sales and marketing alignment is a great goal for any business. It helps both teams be more effective and ultimately perform far better. Things like office politics or changing teams can make this difficult to attain, but working on your company culture over time pays off. With this sales/marketing alignment, you can create a single, strategic customer journey.
The sales team spends their time on the phone or emailing prospects, listening to their questions, and figuring out what concerns they need to address before they make a purchase decision. Thus, they learn a ton about prospects along the way.
And marketing is constantly thinking about pain points and what people need to hear to convert; they should also be thinking about how their efforts will help leads move further down the pipeline, through sales, to become paying customers.
Regular communication between sales and marketing is vital to gaining momentum and meeting goals in both departments. From the moment someone hears about your brand to the end of their journey as they become clients, there must be consistency in messaging. Both the sales and marketing teams are involved in every prospect’s journey.
Organizations with excellent sales and marketing alignment close 38 percent more deals, achieve 27 percent faster three-year profit growth, and achieve 208 percent higher revenue than organizations with disconnected sales and marketing teams (HubSpot). These are very impressive statistics, and strongly convey the positive outcome of sales and marketing working together.
What can marketing learn from sales?
If you want to be a great marketer, you really need to understand the mind of your customers. The questions they ask, the questions they don’t ask, what they like about the product or don’t like about it, which competitors are considered, and more. Having a solid understanding of these things help marketers frame their messaging in the right way to attract business.
The sales team is the perfect resource to learn many of the answers. Marketers can go directly to sales and ask them about the kind of things they hear from prospects. Interviewing clients can be beneficial too (feedback from clients is like gold to marketers) but it only lets you gain insight into one individual’s perspective. The sales team has knowledge about hundreds if not thousands of potential buyers’ perspectives.
The more deeply you dive into understanding the mindset of prospects, the more successful a company’s marketing can be. Marketing is all about psychology, and surface-level messaging only goes so far.
Frequent collaboration between these teams means that marketing will have a better understanding of how to nurture cold leads, social media followers, etc. in the right ways and give them the right messaging to generate more MQLs to hand over to sales.
The best thing that marketing can do to learn from sales is to schedule structured meetings on a regular basis. And they aren’t the only ones to benefit from it…
What does sales need from marketing?
The sales team relies on marketing in many ways. Among the many duties of marketers is generating as many qualified leads as possible for sales, as well as creating collateral to help them sell.
Often, marketing teams will develop the videos, one-pagers, and educational materials that sales need to do their job effectively. Setting up a frequent meeting between these teams will give sales time to express how well their collateral is working. Does something need to be adjusted in their collateral? Are there questions that prospects are asking that the current collateral doesn’t cover? Are there other resources that would help them sell more efficiently? You can’t expect a sales team to be effective if they are lacking the needed resources or if there are issues with them.
Sales also needs to understand from marketers what messaging is being used to attract the leads they’re talking to (and vice versa). Prospects can sense any disconnect from a mile away when they start interacting with your sales team. There needs to be alignment between the messaging that marketing is sending out and the way that sales talks with prospects.
A disconnect between these vital teams can spell disaster.
How do Sales and Marketing work together? Putting it into action.
Scheduling regular, structured dual-department meetings is a great way to align your teams. If your company is small, these meetings may consist of both entire teams. For larger companies, it may just be several spokespeople for each department—with a replay sent out to everyone, so they are all on the same page. All team members should be kept in the loop for this strategy to work optimally.
Here are several topics that are important to talk about during sales/marketing meetings:
Upcoming marketing campaigns
When your marketing team is planning to run campaigns or promotions, they should let the sales team know. They need to provide the sales team with information about the upcoming promotion, like who it’s being sent to, what verbiage they are using, etc., as well as the release date.
Sending a reminder when the campaign actually starts is also always appreciated. Or, marketing can send out a monthly calendar to keep sales in the loop.
Sales can report some of the feedback they’re receiving from prospects. Marketing needs to make sure that their content is doing what it’s supposed to, and if there is any disconnect, sales will likely hear about it directly. Sales can also use this time to report good feedback, too! If they are closing more deals because of a certain campaign or piece of collateral, that’s important to bring up as a point of success.
Which competitors have come up more or less frequently in the sales team’s discussions? Are there any new competitors? Competitor’s marketing will always ebb and flow, and it’s important to keep up with what they’re doing. There may be collateral that sales needs to help prospects choose you over that competitor, or campaigns that can be planned to hype certain features or benefits to outshine a competitor.
As we discussed earlier in this article, marketing is often in charge of creating much of the collateral that the sales team uses to sell (e.g. one-pagers, handbooks, educational materials). Reviewing the collateral together and determining anything that can be improved will boost the percentage of leads that convert.
Having both teams review collateral together will also ensure they are using the same language when talking/emailing/marketing to clients. A confused client isn’t going to convert; making sure you’re using the same language at every stage of their journey will avoid that pitfall.
Discuss the customer persona
The sales team has tons of valuable knowledge about who is becoming a qualified lead. Is there any disconnect between who marketing is trying to target vs. who is actually being attracted? If there IS a disconnect, both teams need to be flexible and keep an open mind. The market is always changing; pain points will change and new competitors will arise. Agreeing on a customer persona is a necessary step for defining how to market towards them in each stage of the customer’s journey.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) tracked jointly will give marketing and sales a common goal. Each team will, of course, have its own set of KPIs, and every company is different. Identifying several things both teams can own together will create a more collaborative attitude.
Dual-department communication is already on the rise, and starting to work on that part of your company’s culture now is beneficial. In fact, 54% of marketers say they are empowered to collaborate with sales teams (a year-on-year growth rate of 86%), and 52% share common goals and metrics (Salesforce).
If you’re hoping to build a better future for your business, aligning your teams is absolutely worth it. You’ll be able to optimize every stage of the customer journey with a clear brand message that’s congruent the entire way.
In De Lu Studios’ experience, we have found that companies that normalize and promote discussions between marketing and sales are far more efficient and really do experience higher growth. Although we become an extension of your marketing team, we still find a ton of value of being able to go directly to sales and learn from them or discover what materials they need. In that way, we are more than just marketers in the traditional sense. Contact us today to to learn more.