5 Ways to Foster the Marketing-Sales Alliance

Marketing, Sales | 5 minutes to read

18th Dec, 2018

Sales and marketing – despite being so closely related, have always shared a relationship of constant competition. And that has been the case ever since the emergence of these two functions – hence, a historical paradox one can say.

All this despite the fact that these two functions are like the two wheels of the same cart, which means they are always aiming in the same direction, i.e. optimized ROIs and accelerated revenue cycles for the organization.  Quite an irony indeed.

Let’s look at the root cause of the disconnect first to be able to comprehend the workarounds for bridging-up the gap.

Sales, essentially are more of a direct process where the aim is to connect with the prospect and steer him towards making the purchase, hence converting him into a customer.

Marketing, on the other hand, is a more overall sort of a process where the agenda is to increase the brand awareness and create grounds of comfort for the prospect and sales team to engage, thus increasing the probabilities of conversion. The typical intersection point between the two functions lies where the marketing team hands over the ‘prepped-up’ lead to the sales team and generally the active collaboration ends at that point itself.

Next steps depending upon the conversion rate of those ‘prepped-up’ leads often result into contention between the two camps with each accusing the other of slacking on their responsibilities. And so, the war continues.

As per research, misalignment between sales and marketing plan significantly impacts revenue with lost sales and wasted marketing outlay costing companies $1 trillion a year.

Moving from Contention to Collaboration
Lately, organizations have started realizing the massive costs of lost opportunities and lagging ROIs because of this misalignment between sales and marketing objectives. Instead, a conjoined and integrated approach actioned by these two teams is the ultimate revenue engine that any and every organization aspire for.

A lack of alignment between two teams results in wasting of 60-70% of B2B content and a failure to convert 79% of marketing leads into sales.

When the benefits are so darn alluring such as – shorter sales cycles, lower market-entry or outreach costs, better overall ROIs coupled with the side benefits of improved performance metrics and productivity levels, why would any organisation shy away from attempting an alliance between these two.

In fact, the great divide is now getting dissolved at a faster pace courtesy the developmental strides contributed by technology interjection into businesses. One can say, technology has played a dual catalyst role here – a reason for causing this paradigm shift, as well as an enabler for assisting the trend to pick up motion.

The Big Q
With all the intent from organisations and the great deal of push from technological advances, if the integration and alliance was still as easy as it sounds, the world of sales would have been a happier place. However, an ideal scenario never exists but that doesn’t mean that striving for the same is not advisable.

The big question emerges – how to foster the alliance between the two disagreeing domains? Let’s see few actions which can aid the movement and accelerate the integration without arising any discontent in any of the two camps.

5 Ways to Marry Marketing and Sales (and bask into the glory of the resultant revenue team):

Make the ‘Meet’ Happen
Getting the parties in the same room is the first step to begin the trek on the road of integrated functioning. These meetings are pre-requisites for the purpose of goal alignment between the two functions.

Also, these common-meet grounds are necessary for identifying (and dealing with) the friction points before the integration process can begin – to avoid any cracks later on.

A clever idea would be to ask the teams to come prepared for such meets. They can have their doubts, initial brief questions, any objections, suggestions etc. handy to be able to address the points and plan properly to proceed towards the shared goals.

Have Them Collaborate on Content
The fort of alignment (and then sales) success cannot be fathomed without ensuring this tactic. Sales and marketing people are subject matter experts in their own realms, however, they may have a loose hand when it comes to each other’s territories.

For example, a salesperson may not know the right channel to make the most effective outreach for a particular prospect and a marketing person can be devoid of any important information which the prospect may have shared with the sales rep during their meeting. Both the scenarios are ingredients for a failed sales recipe.

Hence, making the two team strategize on the precise content requirement is the first step (this will also ensure that no content which is created by marketing is being left unused at the end). A team job here will also ensure that the content is laced-up with the real-time sales experience insights.

Additional tip: A central content resource library shared between the two will also go a long way in ensuring the content is being leveraged to the maximum.

Organize Regular Scrutinizing Meets
Open and regular communication platforms allow seeing what’s working and what’s not – a collaborative analysis. This step is important to ensure a mutually beneficial course correction. Such brainstorm sessions also provide an apt ground for discussing new strategies.

In absence of such common debrief meets and brainstorm sessions, how much soever effort you’d put into the alignment project, the two poles will forever stay apart.

Expecting the two teams to agree on everything can still be deemed as a genuine expectation but in case of these two historically antagonistic ones – it will be an unfair one. However, striving for establishing an environment where opinions, disagreements and perspectives are valued – is the way to go.

Relook at Lead Scoring and Performance KPIs
Set up a methodology for a common ground lead scoring – when a lead is MQL and when it is SQL, will depend greatly on the product or campaign. Hence the teams need to collectively discuss and decide the apt lead scoring each time for the particular project.

Well established KPIs for both the functions – some individual and some shared (the ratio being dependent upon the nature of work) will help in keeping the arrangement aligned. That ways, the skew that could have arisen from a dis-balance between subjective (traditionally owned by marketing) and objective (majorly the sales team quota) KPIs is also managed.

Also, defining a shared accountability metric will eliminate the thought process of blaming each other for failures or the friction which have thriven between the two teams so far.

Leverage ABM To Your Advantage
Working together to target specific accounts instead of going all over the place, by having a defined and customised strategy has an amazing by-product – an aligned team. Therefore, account-based marketing is your best friend if you’re serious about the sales-marketing alignment.

While practicing Account Based Marketing approach of selling, both marketing and sales, make account-strategizing a team effort while sharing the data/ informational insights with each other.

Such a concentrated approach to the employment of efforts in a scientific and personalised manner to plan and execute micro campaigns leads to revenue enhancement for the company and ensures that marketing and sales collaborate with each other. And that’s true because the approach cannot succeed without active alignment between the two teams.

Bonus Tip:

Co-Leverage to Show-Off
Leveraging marketing for showcasing sales team efforts and expertise is an idea which you must explore. It can be done via content, which is as such, marketing’s strength, or even through planning co-managed events or activities. Such acts will bolster the sales team’s credibility and translate into more closures.  For example – involving sales team members to be part of marketing meetings or summits to share their sides of the stories will position them as thought leaders.

Benefits of Integration
Once the momentum picks up on this continuously evolving road of integrated functioning of sales and marketing – or you can say, the evolution of the new ‘revenue team’, the string of benefits don’t cease to end. Let’s look at a few broad line advantages which an organisation accrues when the alignment efforts are looking successful:

  • Customer and prospects get a singular and non-confusing picture
  • Marketing team has better insight into some real-time or ground level info which would have otherwise remained classified
  • A straightforward and clearer mapping of customer journey with enhanced access to information
  • Better uptake and integration of customer feedback with mutual info-share pact
  • Sales team gets a smoother lead flow in the funnel with the quality of leads going upward
  • Aligned together means aligned with the company goals instead of getting wasted away in momentary raptures of small goal victories

All these benefits lead to the big bang which gives the maximum kick to any organization, which is, maximized revenues.

An industry report suggests, in case of a non-aligned environment between sales and marketing teams, there’s a 4% decrease in company revenue, however, if the teams work in collaboration then many companies experience a 20% increase in their sales

With all these tips handy now, what would be your customised approach to ensure the integration of these two antagonistic camps in your organisation? Do you think marketing has emerged as the ‘new sales’ with this trend of integration of the two functions? Do share your valuable thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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