According to HubSpot, “Sales and marketing are two business functions within an organization — they both impact lead generation and revenue. The term, sales, refers to all activities that lead to the selling of goods and services. And marketing is the process of getting people interested in the goods and services being sold.”
Although both functions have the same end goal, revenue growth, they are not always tightly aligned. In fact, a study done by Sirius Decisions found that B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three year period.
There is strength in numbers, aligning these two departments is crucial to overall business success and continued growth. The average prospect needs to touch five pieces of content and involve 6.8 different people before they’re ready to purchase. But only 20% of sales reps share content during the decision making the process and are often focused on a single person for their pursuit.
The problem is, at many organizations, there is a disconnect between these highly interdependent business functions, leading to the loss of prospects, revenue, and productivity.
Why this is happening?
It starts with understanding the numbers.
When sales and marketing understand how marketing inquiries flow through the proverbial funnel to become marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, and eventually qualified deals and contracts, the teams have a common language and understanding of how each group contributes to the sale. How often do we hear “Sales is squandering our leads” from marketing. Or “these leads are terrible” from sales. It’s likely this is a siloed organization lacking sales and marketing alignment.
We also need a feedback loop.
Although sales and marketing are separate business functions, it’s crucial that they share the same targets and communicate effectively about their current projects and processes. Marketing departments are capable of making an array of materials to promote your brand. However, this means nothing if the sales team doesn’t find the content applicable to their current sales cycle and challenges. This can lead to situations such as…
- Sales reps using old content or making their own that is off-brand and has incorrect messaging.
- Marketing getting frustrated when confusing or incorrect messaging is influencing the marketplace.
Lack of cross-functional communication between sales and marketing will leave all parties feeling frustrated. No marketer wants to spend time making content that won’t be used, and no sales rep want to sift through a mound of irrelevant content while trying to add value for a prospect. Aligning these two functions is a companies best hope for success.
The bottom line? Both departments need to work together toward their common goal.
Here are three recommendations on ways to get your marketing and sales departments aligned with one another…
1. Be transparent about how the funnel flows
It’s not about finger-pointing. It’s about collaboration. When marketing sees conversion rates are low or dropping, they’ll naturally want to improve the quality of content and programs. When sales see the volume of leads, they’ll want to see what’s in that volume. And any lead is warmer than a cold call!
2. Communicate about what content is needed and what already exists
Although both sales and marketing functions revolve around effective communication with prospects and customers, communication between the two functions can improve. As a marketer, I’m often asked for specific content by the sales team to help them inform prospects and close deals. Usually, the things being asked for already exist. The issue is the sales team either doesn’t know where to find it, or that it exists at all. This is one reason why it’s important to empower your sales team to find the content that they’re looking for on their own. This not only gives back the marketing team their time, but it also allows the sales team to find what they need, quickly, and get on with their sale.
Making a concentrated effort to keep each other in the loop on current initiatives is a simple step that can go a long way towards improving the sales process. Companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes had an average of 10% more of their salespeople on quota (CSO Insights). Some ways our marketing team at LevelEleven keeps sales in the loop is through:
- A searchable content repository that is open and available to all
- Marketing content calendars to inform the team of what’s coming
- Weekly sales and marketing meetings for progress updates
- Brainstorm sessions with the sales team to discover what content would be most beneficial
- Guest blog posts by the sales team on topics they find relevant
- An open door policy with the sales team, making them comfortable to offer suggestions whenever they think of them
When marketing works with sales to empower them to locate content on their own, the sales cycle will go smoother for everyone. In fact, a study done by MarketingProfs found that organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates.
3. Get to know each other and have fun
Often overlooked, cross-team bonding is another way to foster teamwork between sales and marketing. Although these functions are usually separate teams within an organization, positive relationships between departments can go a long way to align sales and marketing initiatives.
Team building builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration, resulting in more tightly aligned teams. Forrester Research found that aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth while less aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue. Cross-team bonding offers sales and marketing departments a jumping off point to build stronger relationships in and out of the office.
Although aligning your sales and marketing teams can seem like a challenge, it will go a long way to improve the quality or your team’s conversations with prospects and customers. When both functions are on the same page, marketing content will be created with prospects and customers in mind, and used to its fullest potential by sales, resulting in increased revenue for the organization, that can be tied back to the content itself.
Looking for more ways to enhance your sales team’s performance? Register for our webinar, Supercharge Your Sales Engine, to see how to manage, motivate, and automate with a modern tech stack!