People constantly ask about how to grow their businesses. I often tell them, “You can increase profits by aligning your sales and marketing.” I happen to run a one-man operation. Maybe you run one with a complete sales team and a complete marketing team. Either way, it doesn’t matter. For some of you, this will sound like Captain Obvious, to others, it’s going to sound alien. But let me start off by defining the difference between sales and marketing.

Sales and Marketing

Sales is the activities related to selling or the number of goods or services sold in a given period of time.

Marketing, on the other hand, is the study and management of exchange relationships. That means marketing is used to create, keep, and satisfy the customer. You’re identifying customers, and you’re trying to engage with them. You’re trying to create conversations with them.

Generally speaking, sales and marketing are two different activities. And a lot of times there’s a conflict between sales and marketing.

From a small business perspective, I ask, where do we spend our time? I spend a lot of time on marketing but not as much on sales. That’s what I do, I’m a marketing consultant. But if you happen to work in a big business, a lot of times there’s a marketing department and a sales department.

The marketing department is there to generate the sales opportunities for the salespeople. But a lot of the time there is a tug of war going on between them. Marketing is trying to get the message out. Sales guys just want to hop on the phone and go out and meet people face-to-face. So there’s this kind of ongoing struggle between the two of them creating turf wars.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

Let’s first define inbound versus outbound marketing. With inbound marketing, you’re trying to draw people to your business to let them get to know who you are, that you exist, and what you do. Outbound marketing is the old traditional stuff. You get on the phone. You cold call. A lot of people look at even new tools such as LinkedIn as an outbound marketing tool. You find somebody, you hop on the phone with them, you send them a message. You use those things as an outbound or sales prospecting tools. But ultimately you want all parts working together in harmony. You want sales to promote marketing. You want marketing to promote sales. Which basically means you have to create conversations with them.

Digital Marketing

Digital has changed the game for people. On average, we’re living in a short attention span theater. You have someone’s attention for about eight seconds. If somebody gets to your homepage, they’re going to look at three pages in two minutes. If your inbound marketing is drawing people back to your website, that can create a little bit of a diversion. But it won’t create enough time to really get anything done.

People are becoming accustomed to spending a lot more time researching things. As a matter of fact, sources are showing that the average person spends a couple of hours researching and will visit up to 10 sources before making the decision to purchase something. There are lots of different statistics and things out there. But ultimately it boils down to this: people are checking into things more and more online to figure out what their sources are going to be. And of course, they google things, they amazon things, whatever that is.

Alignment Equals Success

Why do you want to align sales and marketing? Obviously, you want to try to create some success. You want to increase your profits. But what happens a lot of times in the larger groups is about 80% of the content that’s generated by the marketing team is never even used by the sales team. So how do we do something that gets them more aligned? Because companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve about a 20% annual growth. But companies with poor sales and marketing alignment tend to have a 4% revenue decline. Obviously getting them to work in concert is going to help.

How do we do this? There are three main things that you have to think about.

Data

The first one is the data, the second one is the process, and then the third one is creating communication.

Obviously, the devil is in the details, and I’m a huge Google Analytics fan. So if I’m writing blogs, I can actually see which blogs are getting the most hits. When I’m doing podcasts, I can actually see which one of the podcasts people are paying attention to.

Ultimately it boils down to this: Data is the currency of business. So whatever is happening, you’ve got to pay attention to the data. You have to make sure that both teams, the sales team, and the marketing team are using the same data. So if that’s you, obviously you’re going to jump on whatever’s hot. But in the case of larger teams, you have to get them aligned.

Be insights-driven. In other words, don’t be data-driven only. Talk to your sales team. Find out what they’re hearing out there. Don’t just rely on the same marketing research. And make sure that everything you’re doing is timely, relevant, and accurate. For example, you wouldn’t want to talk about a Christmas sale in September, and you wouldn’t want to talk about summer in December. You want to make sure that everything that you’re doing is relevant to the time where it’s at. You may have to plan ahead of time. But make sure you’re talking about what’s important today.

Consider looking at different tools to find greater insights. Obviously, there are lots and lots of tools out there that can provide you with information. Some of them are paid for. Some of them are built into things like LinkedIn Sales Navigator which can give you great insights as to what’s happening out there in the marketplace on LinkedIn.

Process

The second piece of this process is the process. You have to create process and systems. When you get a whole bunch of sales people out there doing their own thing, you’re missing that alignment. And the marketing messages and the salespeople going out and using their own techniques may actually hinder exactly what you’re trying to achieve.

What I suggest is that you get both teams together and make sure they’re focusing on the pipeline, that they’re all aligned to what’s going on, agree on common goals. So make sure that your revenue, your increasing revenue, is number one. Ensure that everybody understands the why. Even when you’re a solopreneur and you’re bringing in contractors or virtual assistants. Make sure you’re clear as to why you’re doing what you’re doing, what the end goals are. When I hire a virtual assistant to write blogs, I have to be very clear to make sure that they understand what are we trying to achieve for the customer.

Communication

Create content that helps your salespeople engage with customers, so they can actually pass out printed content or give them links to videos or whatever it is that you’re doing. And make sure that you’re mapping the process to the buyer’s nonlinear journey.

So what is the buyer doing? How are they finding that? Are you mapping the process? That’s why finding out what salespeople are discovering in the field is important to what you do as far as getting your information organized so that it helps them.

Then the final piece of this is communication. This means getting everybody in a room, sitting down and talking. Alignment has to be top down. The C-level people and the sales and the marketing team need to be cohesive. They need to understand what’s going on. You need to support collaboration with this. So make sure you’re doing something that’s going to help everybody be successful.

Final Thoughts

What are you going to do? You’re going to turn this wide open to the rest of people sitting out there who need the solution your product and service you provide.

You can align them by doing this. One, get your sales and marketing working together. Two, combine inbound and outbound marketing to make sure they are working in your business properly. Finally, use the data, the process, and the messages as a cohesive system. In doing so, you’re not only going to make the workplace a lot better for everybody, but you’re going to help your audience understand how you are the best solution for their needs.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about showing the concepts presented. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?