Marketers spend a lot of time developing resources that explain products, answer questions about services, and in general are meant to cultivate customer relationships and support the sales staff. Webinars, white papers, website content, or leave-behind collateral — they all cost any business a chunk of change. So why is it that so often all this good material goes unused by the very people it’s supposed to help? Are there any tried and true ways to align sales and marketing?
I recently asked someone in financial services that question. He works for a national firm that provides tons of marketing material on every conceivable nuance of what they offer, all at his disposal as he builds client relationships. But he rarely uses any of it. Why? Because it’s not applicable. He said he would have to change his whole sales process to make use of most of it.
The lack of use of all those great resources is symptomatic of a deeper problem. If we address the disconnect between sales and marketing (and customer service, for that matter), increased use of marketing materials will be a side benefit.
Too often, the divide between sales and marketing functions is as real as, well, partisan politics. And it’s just as harmful. When they work together as allies instead, according to an article by Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnaswamy in the Harvard Business Review, “companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.”
“The lack of use of great marketing resources is symptomatic of a deeper problem. If we first address the disconnect between sales and marketing, increased use of marketing materials will be a side benefit.”
Jonathan Franchell of Content Marketing Institute cites research compiled by Hubspot, that puts an even finer point on it: When you create teamwork between marketing and sales, marketing efforts will generate over 200% more revenue.
How to better align sales and marketing in your organization
Five key management moves will increase teamwork and alignment between departments as well as use, and usefulness, of marketing resources.
Train everyone in the inbound marketing sales funnel. Make sure marketing, sales, and customer service all understand how each contributes to the pipeline, including retention. Get everyone on the same page and marketing resources will be a closer fit to the needs of the rest of the team.
Open up communication between marketing and sales. Monthly joint meetings will help to align sales and marketing. Make agendas proactive and strategic. Create opportunities for them to get to know and trust each other. Name a liaison from marketing to sales and vice versa. Start an ongoing job-shadow program where someone from marketing goes on a few sales calls and someone from sales consults with and signs off on collateral design.
Share data. Give Marketing and Customer Service access to the same CRM used by sales. Include a custom field to record resources used with each contact. Use this to track how content pieces do or do not contribute to customer relationships and ultimately sales. Use information captured this way as part of job performance reviews, as well as to improve marketing content.
Collaborate on customer personas. Include Sales in the planning of messaging that focuses on your personas. Keep the process fluid, adjusting the message as Sales returns with feedback. Include Marketing in reviews and strategy for select accounts. In the process both departments will see how much they need each other and chances are more doors will open to make sales.
Leadership: lead by vision and example. None of this works otherwise. As your business grows, disconnects between essential parts might be a symptom of unease with change. It’s up to you to keep the focus on your mission, values, vision, and the team cohesion it takes to get there. Coach your managers toward lateral collaboration. Use the marketing resources yourself and point others to them. After all, you are your brand’s biggest ambassador, internally as well as externally. Exemplify the culture of collaboration and your team will follow.
How aligned are the marketing and sales functions in your business?
When you make us part of your marketing team, we work hard to understand your needs, collaborate on your strategy, then create resources that align with the rest of your organizational goals, and your sales team.
To explore the possibilities, give the Lumen Marketing team a call at 720-722-2987, or click the blue button below.