Depending on the size of your company, aligning sales and marketing can be an endeavor of varying difficulty. The one certainty is that it is an endeavor, and it is difficult. Sometimes very difficult.
Big dogs like our own CEO Bob Marsh provide some great insight on approaching this challenge from the executive perspective [see: “The CMO’s Sales Alignment Challenge”]; it requires cooperation on all levels for success. The following are a few additional ways you can get there. They might not be complex, but believe me when I say that simple, practical improvements can aid greatly in achieving the much larger vision.
1. Actually Sit in the Same Room Together Sometimes
Communication, or lack there of, is a major contributor to sales/marketing alignment problems — perhaps even the greatest culprit of them all. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Schedule joint sales/marketing team meetings on a monthly or quarterly basis
Even if just for the purpose of having an open discussion or brainstorming solutions, adding structure here can help fill the communication void.
- Crash each other’s team meetings
Same idea, but more like being a guest and vice versa. Doing this can help each side understand how the other operates.
- Shorten workspace proximity when possible
Physical distance can actually exacerbate “perceived distances” between teams. For example, I used to work at a place that had the sales team in an isolated room, and even though there was only a wall between us, it might as well have been a continent. The amount of information lost in between was colossal. At LevelEleven, I work just desks away from sales, and just being able to hear their conversations has a value that helps us coalesce around common goals. Plus, I can hassle them whenever I want.
2. Encourage Your Team to Socialize Every Now and Then
Like, actually socialize. Experiencing things together as humans is helpful to improving professional teamwork — and it’s really easy to promote. Schedule a few team happy hours or book a quarterly team outing to an athletic event.
3. Encourage Empathy Between the Clans
LevelEleven account execs write blog content all the time. On the other side, marketing helps create collateral that our reps request for armor against objections. It helps us each to do a more effective job and to understand each other’s responsibilities.
4. Speak the Same Language
There are enough differences between sales and marketing teams that it’s easy for things to get lost in translation between the two. It’s crucial that teams agree on things like:
- Basic terminology, goals and objectives
- Demographics, sales funnelling, messaging fundamentals
- Lead/product characteristics, comprehension, value
Having unique perspectives is healthy and important to success, but lacking basic agreement on the fundamentals or process will cause problems that become difficult to overcome.
5. Share in Each Other’s Successes
Simple: it’s a team effort, so when the team succeeds everyone should feel it. This could come from things like group incentives or peer-to-peer recognition between departments. However you promote it, encouraging shared successes between teams will naturally result in a closer alignment of initiatives.
Obviously these tips won’t close the gap and align sales and marketing initiatives on their own, but encouraging some simple, practical improvements to a culture can make a strong glue that helps hold it all together. The executive level strategy is still crucial, but winning the war means winning in the trenches — so considering some of the factors that influence that outcome is absolutely worthwhile.
If using gamification to align sales and marketing is something that sparks your interest, here’s a great post on the topic: