What’s YOUR experience with sales and marketing alignment? When I’ve seen commercial teams work well together, it is like a beautiful orchestra where everyone plays their part, and the result is magic. When sales and marketing do not work together, it is like a fifth-grade band that has two or three instruments out of tune, and no matter how hard they try, they simply can’t make any recognizable music. Those examples are clearly extremes and, more often than not, sales and marketing teams work together on some level doing an acceptable job.
How can sales and marketing teams go from “acceptable” to “awesome”? Several things come to mind.
Are both teams focused on customers as they should be? Do they share a common understanding of which customers are true targets and which are not? Do they fully appreciate the pain points of those customers, so that all sales and marketing messaging reinforces how your products and services address those pain points? Customers always need to be the focal point of commercial teams. They are the “why” you exist as an organization. Never lose sight of them and their ever-changing needs. They pay the bills!
Do sales and marketing teams ever collaborate on what tools are needed to increase selling effectiveness? Are marketing materials on point, and does the sales team use them? Is there a good feedback mechanism, so that as new content is developed, the sales team has an opportunity to weigh in? Is there a solid training plan for how new material is to be used? Is there a post-deployment evaluation process to understand the effectiveness of new tools? Collaborating on sales-tool development can be key to ensuring that the right tools are in the hands of the people who will use them most.
Does your marketing team generate enough leads to keep the sales funnel full? Are leads qualified at any level when passed from marketing to sales? A solid marketing and sales process will help define what a good, qualified lead looks like, so that all share the same expectation. Data from a sales automation platform can help confirm how many leads are needed to meet sales objectives. Often there is a 3-5x factor involved, meaning that to close $1,000 in deals this month, you need a funnel of $3,000-$5,000. In some industries, this could be more.
In addition, marketing and sales should be sharing the same financial goals. It is one things to generate leads; it is another thing to close a deal. Unless a reasonable percentage of leads are turning into closed deals, then something is wrong. Either the leads are not relevant, or the sales team isn’t competent. Either way, the problem needs to be fixed. Both teams need to share the same goals, so that they have skin in the same game.
Has your marketing team experienced “a day in the life of” a sales rep? Do they regularly ride along with outside sales and/or shadow an inside sales team member? Do your sales reps understand the value that marketing brings? Do they know the breadth and depth of the role, or do they think of marketing as the folks who create ads, organize tradeshows and send email blasts?
If you truly want to gain alignment between sales and marketing teams, they need to understand and appreciate each other’s role – the highs and the lows, the wins and the losses, the fun and the drudgery. Plus ride-alongs and shadowing keeps your marketing team in front of the customer. They need face time, too!
Fortunately, I’ve had the privilege of leading a well-aligned sales and marketing team for a large multi-national organization. It was a great honor, but didn’t come haphazardly. I put some very intentional mechanisms in place to build and maintain collaboration.
TopLine Results offers engagements for sales process, marketing process, and sales/marketing alignment. I’m happy to share some of my tips and tricks with customers. To learn more, reach out on our website, www.TopLineResults.com, or call at 1-800-880-1960 x209.
Here’s wishing you an AWESOME commercial team!
About the Author
Melanie R. Varin is Chief Operating Officer and consultant for TopLine Results Corporation. Melanie specializes in business process consulting for organizations across many industries. With more than 30 years of business expertise, Melanie focuses on providing clients with winning strategies for improving their sales, marketing and overall business processes from assessment to implementation.