Misalignment between the sales and marketing teams is a common problem in many businesses. We’d all agree that it’s imperative that they need to work hand in hand. But believe it or not, some sales and marketing teams barely speak to one another.
They both have the same objective – to drive sales and revenue. Marketing’s role is to generate qualified leads, manage the customer experience, increase brand awareness and create a brand-appropriate sales environment. The sales team’s role is to turn the qualified leads into sales and provide an exceptional customer experience.
According to Marketing Mag, “the two need to work hand in hand in order to fire up the lead gen engine.”
As featured on the Marketing Mag website, here’s Azadeh Williams’ (the founder and managing partner of global B2B media and marketing agency, AZK Media) take on how sales and marketing can work together to generate real, tangible results:
1. Adopt a complementary mindset
When you think of marketing as ‘secondary’ to sales, that’s where you start having problems. When you instil a culture of seeing the two as complementary, everyone’s mindset shifts towards being more collaborative. After all, there is a lot of dependency, especially in B2B, that marketing has on sales and vice versa. The whole idea of alignment is understanding what those key dependencies are. Then align roles and responsibilities so everybody has a clear-eyed view of what the future looks like.
2. Use common language
One of the first ways to align is by creating a common language. As an example, what a ‘lead’ means for your marketing department (MQL or marketing qualified lead), may be completely different to what it means to the sales team (SQL). A marketing team could say, ‘I’ve generated 27,000 MQLs’, but zero of these have turned into revenue. That’s a terrible disconnection. A common framework or a common language and clear expectations is a starting point for any of this to create alignment.
3. Establish common KPIs
Another way to align is to look at performance metrics and evaluate revenue goals and budgeting together. It is critical to formulate targets in this way so you’re sharing a common goal – regardless of how you budget, your account-based marketing plan or even your inbound lead gen strategy. It’s important to find a common ground.
Once those things are clearly defined, you can consider creating a playbook that clearly outlines roles and responsibilities. This is a place to hold one another accountable. Every quarter, you can then review the metrics and playbook, and continue to iterate and evolve, so sales and marketing continue to complement each other and work like a ‘well-oiled machine’.
4. Identify common mistakes to avoid when trying to get sales and marketing alignment right
One of the biggest mistakes is not getting C-suite buy-in and executive sponsorship. The sales leader and the marketing leader could be thinking, ‘yes, let’s do this, let’s walk arm in arm and go.’ But if you don’t have buy-in across the C suite, it’s not going to take off.
In times of economic uncertainty, the CFO (chief financial officer) or the CRO (chief relationship officer) are often the key people in this equation. They’re funding the sales and marketing budget. They’re also looking at the business holistically. If there’s a perception in the organisation that marketing performs one way and sales performance another way, then it’s harder to convince the CFO that you’re anything but siloed.
5. Driving value in greater alignment
From an agency perspective, here are things to do before engaging with a client to help support their media, marketing strategy and campaigns. Take a deeper look at their sales and marketing alignment.
In essence, effective alignment is all about continued communication and collaboration. It’s about bringing all of your sales and marketing talent and resources together, in one place. Then create a playbook. This means sales and marketing can work together, driving demand, closing business, looking at the full customer lifecycle, and tackling retention, renewal, cross-sell and upsell – all as one robust ecosystem.
At Property Republic, we recommend conducting a workshop to help your sales and marketing teams get on the same page. During this workshop, the project team and other influencers can put forward their ideas in a safe environment. Ideally, this workshop is facilitated by an external party (like us!), who has some knowledge of your industry. A workshop agenda example:
Determine the project mission
Agree the strategic objectives
Brainstorm the critical success factors
Evaluate the critical success factors to determine the actions required to achieve success
Determine who will be responsible
Identify how you will monitor and measure each success factor
Use group brainstorming techniques to keep the session invigorating and attention focused. You’ll leave with a clear understanding of the project’s destiny that will assist with marketing planning and budgeting.
By making sure your sales and marketing departments are on the same page, you’ll be able to maximise your content strategy and ensure that the full customer lifecycle remains seamless.