Aligning your business’ sales and marketing processes is essential to turning your company into a sales machine with one focus: selling more stuff, more of the time.
“Just a few years ago, HubSpot coined the term “smarketing,” which captures the notion of an integrated sales and marketing strategy. Back then, it was an inspirational idea. Today, it has become an essential reality for inbound sales.”
I’ve always found it interesting and a bit of an anomaly that the sales approach and sales process within an organisation are separate from those of the marketing team. This keeps the two functions as silos, and sometimes they even appear to oppose each other.
Sales and marketing have the same goal; that is to attract, engage, close and retain customers. Companies need to invest in aligning the two teams so that the process to achieve this same goal is uniform and cohesive. Says the Digital Marketing Institute, “Aligning sales and marketing can generate more marketing revenue for your company. Statistics show that companies with aligned sales and marketing teams are up to 67% better at closing deals and achieve 35% higher customer retention and 38% higher win rates.”
So what do companies need to commit to in order to align the process?
Commitment number one: Redefine the mission
Redefining the mission helps to make sure both teams are committed. Photo: Darren Leishman
This commitment is not a tangible one; it’s a commitment of re-focus. Is your sales team’s main focus on sales volumes; is your marketing team’s main focus on lead generation volume?
If this is the case then they are aligned to quantity and not quality and are not aligned to each other.
When goals are not aligned, each team is on a competitive race against each other. The re-focus required is that both teams need to focus jointly on achieving a customer relationship. Numbers are important but a focus on generating quality leads will shorten the time from prospect to purchase and reduce time wasted on unqualified numbers.
Simply put: Marketing cannot generate a good lead without a clear understanding of the type of customer required and sales cannot close a sale with a poor lead or a poorly understood lead. The joint mission of sales and marketing needs to be “Attract and interact with a customer that needs us”. That results in a jointly defined and clear description of a qualified lead.
Want find out how to define a quality lead? Read our previous article, How to align sales and marketing.
Commitment number two: Align the mission
Align the mission so you’re both looking to the same goal. Photo: Alison Leishman
This commitment is required from both your marketing and sales team. The input from the experiences of each department is required in the following places.
Types of customers:
- Marketing understands the product, its pain relievers and features and benefits.
- Sales understand what type of person needs our products. They have first hand experiences of the characteristics shown by our best customers and the type of pain points that increase the chance of purchase.
So commit sales to aligning customer discussions to the product benefits and pain relievers described by marketing content
- Marketing knows how to create content that will highlight and explain every aspect of our product/service.
- Sales know which customers need which type of content and at which stage of the buying cycle.
So commit to aligning marketing content to customers “expressed” pain points as described by the sales team
The two commitments mentioned above require the company to create the opportunities for the sales team and marketing team to share information in order to create common goals. Encourage both teams to work together to map out the stages of the buyers’ journey to find out what type of information is required and when it is required i.e. it may be a marketing function or it may be a sales conversation depending on the situation. Aligning the mission of sales and marketing will ensure the smooth and unnoticed transition that a customer must undergo when moving from the attention of a marketer to the attention of a seller as the buying cycle progresses.
Commitment number three: Align the targets
Pick the right target and make sure both teams are aiming for it. Picture: Samantha Steele
Once commitments one and two are in place i.e. the mission of the two departments is clearly defined and aligned, the next step is to align the targets of the two teams.
Docurated’s VP of marketing, Fergal Glynn, says ““For many companies, it’s a pure volume game where if you can just stuff more and more leads into the sales funnel, just by sheer luck you’re going to get some diamonds in the rough. But at the executive level of a company, our CEO would always be asking about closing business deals and where they came from. … What a CEO cares about are the qualified opportunities that came out of that marketing investment, and how they play into the goals of the business.” If we commit to a marketing and sales joint mission then the number of leads generated are no longer a useful target but rather the number of leads that result in a sale become the target because that links to ROI. This needs sales and marketing to be tied to the same target i.e. did the lead generated create revenue (marketing) or did the lead received create revenue (sales).
This type of target setting results in a joint focus and drive for achievement and a joint responsibility for ROI. Glynn suggests, “To track ROI, look at KPIs such as “deals influenced” or “deals sourced” to connect specific marketing materials straight to bottom-line results.”
It goes without saying that the commitments above cannot be reached without the meeting of minds of the sales and marketing teams but even more so they need the support, guidance and commitment of the executive level.
Are you ready to commit to an aligned marketing and sales strategy?