It’s no secret that sales and marketing teams sometimes don’t get along. One department blames the other, backstabbing business politics ensue, and then your office is full of frowning faces and sneering comments. But that doesn’t have to be the case! By aligning sales and marketing towards a certain goal with a specific philosophy, both departments will learn how to work together, creating office harmony and generating quality revenue. Here are a few tips to align both teams:
- Foster communication. Constant transparency is essential. During regular meetings, create an agenda item for an open forum that facilitates discussion between both departments. For example, sales could give marketing feedback on how qualified their leads are, and marketing could give sales feedback on how to build their personal brand. In any leadership situation, the wheels turn smoothly when everyone feels that their opinion has been heard.
- Align to the customer. Both sales and marketing should work through a customer persona process, targeting who the ideal customer is in terms of the business’s size and revenue and who the ideal buyer is in terms of the person’s title and decision-making ability. Both departments do work with the customer, even if they’re rubbing up against the customer in different ways. Christine Crandell on Forbes wrote that sales and marketing alignment begins with the customer. In fact, she wrote that customers prioritize relationship and trust over product and price. By aligning to the customer’s own priorities, both teams will remember that it’s not about them – their MQLs or their W-2– it’s about the customer.
- Use the same tools. Both departments should utilize the same sales enablement tools, such as Salesforce or HubSpot, which shouldn’t be too complex. Sales reps should want to input the data that marketing needs, and to do that they need to see the marketing process. Once they do, they’ll understand how it will affect them, and they’ll do what they need to do to improve the system. In the same vein, marketing should help sales by delivering messaging, and if appropriate, presentations that are highly targeted to the buyer. Every buyer is a bit different; it makes a significant difference if you are “speaking their language”. The one size fits all message is a thing of the past, the more specific the better.
- Work together. Sirius Decisions uses the term “small-net fishing,” to describe a process where salespeople focus on developing their pipeline through their own prospecting efforts. While this approach is primarily driven by the sales rep, it still requires marketing support. Marketing should help facilitate the process by helping the rep focus on new lead development with defined targeting criteria, touch sequences and messaging. With this approach both marketing and sales work together; the sales reps own a subset of the corporate campaign, while the marketing team focuses on penetrating the broad target market. Additionally, marketing should ensure the data from the top of the funnel to the bottom is accurate. Sales should also work with marketing by working to generate leads through developing their own personal brand on social media sites such as LinkedIn. Marketing can also sit in on sales calls, and sales can watch a social media campaign, so that everyone is part of and understands the entire process. When both teams have the same succinct focus on target markets and have precise communication between them, revenue and harmony flows.
- Agree on a philosophy. As well as having the knowledge of who your ideal customer is, both sales and marketing should subscribe to the same business philosophy, which should focus on the customer. The last thing we would want is the marketing team subscribing to a “customer-centric” philosophy and the sales team subscribing to a “sales-centric” philosophy; that’s just counter-productive. Instead, have your teams read a book and talk about a chapter a week, constantly learning together. It might also be a good idea for both sales and marketing to come up with a written service-level agreement that determines an end goal for both departments to work towards and puts in place a plan to attain that goal. As long as both sales and marketing are subscribing to the same philosophy, alignment will be easier.
- Share accountability. To stay away from the blame game, have both sales and marketing share accountability. Make sure their is time allotted in each meeting for constructive feedback, to ensure both the marketing and sales teams are constantly improving. A compensation plan that ties marketing into sales, where the focus is on the quality, not quantity, of the sales is also very helpful. Marketing reps may have a comp plan based on the conversion rate of MQLs to SQLs, and SQL’s to stage one forecast. Sales reps may have a comp plan based on the conversion rate of their own “Small Net Fishing” campaign as well as their reaching their quota.
Hope this helps foster community between marketing and sales in your business!