It’s amazing how often I hear people speak about this topic. And I have worked in companies where there is tight alignment – luckily, this is the case here at Quaero – and others where no true relationship between Sales and Marketing existed.
I recently read my colleague, Roman Lenzen’s post entitled, Bridging the Actionable Analytics Gap, in which he discusses the fact that each department – Marketing, IT and Analytics – has an incredible amount of expertise in most cases but they often do not know how to bring all of the pieces together: “Presenting the insight in a form so that the business constituencies may easily digest the information, and start to visualize how it may be implemented to effect bottom line revenue (or profit), is one of the biggest barriers in insight and analytics adoption today.”
This brings me back to that Sales and Marketing alignment issue since it’s really the same thing. We’re all here for the same reasons – to drive revenue for the company. Marketing is responsible for not only driving what goes into the top of the funnel but also nurturing those leads so that they become “sales ready.” And then Sales must evaluate and accept those leads, taking every opportunity to build strong relationships with prospects, delivering a picture to that prospect of what life looks like once they have that product/service in place and gaining acceptance from the decision maker to move forward. We are all there to drive to business to that final close.
So where does the issue lie? How do you get to the root cause of misalignment?
I think back to an organization that I was aware of several years ago. There was a consistent lack of synergy between the 2 departments; Marketing was furiously seeking to help the Sales department throwing many resources over the fence and then getting frustrated when they weren’t used. Marketing was also delivering leads that were then qualified by an Inside Sales person prior to passing them on to the field sales reps. But Sales was consistently stating that the leads were not qualified and thus a vicious cycle was created as the leads were not followed up on.
In this particular organization, Sales and Marketing were working on silos, both trying to work together but falling short. It was clear that a shift needed to occur in order to break through the barriers. But this shift is not something that happens overnight. Initial steps are required before that heavy lifting can begin. Here are some steps that can get you moving in the right direction:
1. Gain support from management. Before you do anything, it is critical to gain upper level support from your organization’s leaders. Depending upon the size of the company, that could mean your VP of Marketing or it could be your CEO. And it definitely involves both the Sales and Marketing leaders of the organization. Where do they see the gaps? Find out if they are willing to support an alignment initiative, especially if it means the potential for an improved sales pipeline and greater revenue.
2. Get back to basics. We all get very caught up in product solutions, specific prospect deliverables, and where things are in the sales cycle. But we rarely take a step back to have a basic discussion of lead definition. What is a lead in your organization? Define it – yes, write it down, send it around, ask for edits if they are needed and require it from every person on the team. No one is exempt, from the VP of Sales to the Inside Sales person, from the CMO to the Marketing Programs Manager.
3. Map out the lead lifecycle. What should happen when you get that lead from your website/tradeshow/referral? How should it be moved through the process and how long should it be in any specific “bucket”? Again, write it down, send it around, gather feedback. It’s amazing how many A-HA moments you will likely have as you work through this. You may realize that once you have this amazing lead in your hands – that everyone agrees is a truly amazing lead as a result of your lead definition process – that Marketing needs to spend more time and create a nurturing program that seeks to educate that lead to make sure it’s ready for Sales.
These steps should enable you to create a roadmap for Sales and Marketing alignment. You should be able to start seeing the gaps – where are you now and where do you want to be? Yes, you may see just a few things that need to be tightened up or you may have a laundry list of issues to be addressed. Don’t be daunted by this roadmap – let it serve as your guide. You might only be able to address one piece at a time and over a longer span of time than you would like based upon available budget and resource. But hopefully you will recognize some short-term wins and be working towards some longer term goals.
Do you have a story to share about Sales and Marketing alignment? We would like to hear from you.
Image Source: Eloqua’s Blog, It’s All About Revenue