The CMO’s Sales Alignment Challenge

Sales AlignmentIn an age of information, it’s harder everyday to get buyers’ attention, and the sales process is starting later than ever before. According to Corporate Executive Board, 60% of the buying process is happening before a buyer even talks to a salesperson. This is driving significant investments in marketing staff and software tools to optimize that process in a company’s favor.

Inbound marketing, thought leadership and event marketing are how the modern organization is driving their marketing efforts because the buyer can learn more about the company in an educational way. But this also means companies are capturing leads earlier than they used to, and marketing teams are the ones nurturing those leads with sales development representatives, or passing them directly to the sales team.

But marketing leaders are finding is a massive leaky bucket in that transition from marketing to sales.

  • Leads get stale, not contacted or not contacted enough.
  • Customers aren’t being invited to webinars or field marketing events.
  • Lead data isn’t being updated properly
  • Feedback on lead quality isn’t being communicated to drive refinement

All this means that key marketing initiatives are getting lost in the whirlwind, and the company isn’t yielding the impact it could. The impact is significant. A recent study from Marketo and MathMarketing showed that companies who are successful in aligning sales and marketing are 67% better at closing deals and extract 208% more impact from their marketing efforts.

So why does this happen? It’s not because salespeople don’t understand the value. They get that today’s leads are next month’s wins, but the issue is that they’re short term focused – and that’s not a bad thing as you want them focused on closing business. But the problem is they’re being thrown new “initiatives” almost daily, and as leaders it’s your job to help them focus on what matters.

When talking to our own client base about how they keep their sales & marketing teams focused, we learned that 60% of them are using some type of marketing automation system. So they’re using modern marketing tools to generate and nurture leads and then using leaderboards, Chatter and gamification to get sales aligned on the campaigns and initiatives that will drive the most impact.

Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:

  • Keep It Simple: Be specific about where you want sales to nudge their attention. They’ll still be closing business, but in the 98% of their day when they’re doing activities that lead to sales, make it really easy for them to know what would be most impactful. For example, make more new business calls, or follow-up on a certain set of leads that you think have the best odds of closing.
  • Keep It Short: Salespeople have a natural sense of urgency, so tap into that as much as you can. We’ve found that the top rated internal campaigns and contests last no more than 30 days. Any longer than this and things get stale. And some of the best performing are only for a week or even over a couple hours. Urgency matters because it creates focus.
  • Be Everywhere: You can’t just tell the team once what you want them focused on. It should be repeated over and over, and who is performing well should be put front and center. This might be a report or dashboard, a daily email summary or a full-blown campaign on TV’s, Chatter, email and with real-time feedback like those we run for clients.
  • Get Executives to Weigh In: Ask a salesperson what motivates them and they’ll probably say money. But deep down when people look back on when they felt most proud, it was when they know they did something special as compared to their peers or when someone they respected told them they did a good job and what they’re doing matters. So get your executive team engaged with pats on the back, even if they’re virtual through Chatter, for everyone to see.

If you’re spending big money on sales and marketing tools so you can optimize the customer buying process, make sure you’re also optimizing the internal process to help your team be more productive. Otherwise, a good chunk of that marketing investment is being lost in the wind.

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