It’s no secret that a growing, thriving business must maintain a positive and effective relationship between the sales team and the marketing experts. A symbiotic relationship results in better brand awareness, higher average sales size, achievement of company-wide KPIs, and most importantly, increase in overall revenue.
However, the dynamics of this relationship aren’t as straightforward as they may seem. In fact, tension between these teams is an age-old problem.
My Start Up Land looked into research from a variety of reports, including a Demand Gen report and Harvard Business Review, to show where the sales and marketing alignment breakdown is actually occurring. The complaints come from both sides, and depending on who you talk to, you may hear any of the following complaints:
- Need for better quality leads or better follow up on the leads that are generated
- Lack of sales-ready content or ineffective use of content that already exists
- Insufficient intelligence on leads or inconsistent use of systems to generate intelligence
- Need for target-specific messaging or need for clearly defined buyer personas to develop that messaging
From an anecdotal perspective, the bottom line complaints that we often hear from the companies we work with often sound a little something like this:
Sales: “Marketing is out of touch. They don’t have boots on the ground. I need more leads, and the leads I do get need to be better quality.”
Marketing: “Sales people always go rogue. We’ve worked hard to establish a tried and true method—everything from messaging to lead generation and lead nurturing processes. But sales just do their own thing.”
Here’s Why Your Marketing Strategies and Sales Process Must Work Together
Everyone seems to have their reasons why they are not able to do their job effectively. And often, while people are busy pointing fingers, important company-wide goals can begin to fade into the background.
Don’t let your business get stuck in this dysfunctional cycle of miscommunication and ineffective work processes between sales and marketing. Keep the following shared purposes at the forefront:
- Less wasted leads or leads that slip through the cracks
- Shorter sales cycle
- Easier closing process
When these teams begin to work together, your business’ key metrics look better and your revenue increases! That’s certainly a compelling reason to get serious about joining forces and improving communication and strategies across these teams.
From Funnel to Fly Wheel
Everyone’s familiar with the standard sales funnel. The ultimate goal, of course, is new clients, right?
Well, it shouldn’t be.
The ultimate goal for any business should never end with landing a new client. You should be looking to achieve continual, happy clients…the kind of clients that turn into raving fans and become ambassadors for your brand.
When your funnel literally feeds itself, your happy customers will provide quality testimonials and word of mouth referrals for you—because they want to! There’s no better marketing strategy than that.
Turning your funnel into a flywheel requires the seamless cooperation of sales and marketing.
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Sales and Marketing
How to Optimize Content Marketing to Meet Both Teams’ Needs
This process truly starts in your initial gap assessment to determine your specific audiences. If the ultimate goal is to eliminate drop off between touch points, then you first have to know exactly who you’re trying to reach.
The marketing materials you produce must be effective at keeping your potential customers engaged with a high level of energy and momentum. This process marries sales and marketing so that the content being produced is actually useful in generating warm leads and effectively pushing them towards being sales-ready.
In this content development process, your sales team should be acting as your eyes and ears. When they notice patterns in the obstacles, complaints, and points of confusion among leads, that information turns into critical intelligence for marketing. The marketing team can reframe and redevelop messaging with the goals of:
- answering common questions
- addressing frequent obstacles or complaints
- clearing up any potential confusion
But your content strategy is just what’s happening behind the scenes. The ultimate purpose of the entire process is to capture prospective clients’ information. Content strategy also establishes you as a thought leader, allows consistent communication for new and existing clients, and adds value to your industry. However, from a bottom-line standpoint, the most critical reason to do content marketing is to grow, maintain, and engage your database.
Some say, “You’re only as good as your database.” And, here are the questions to confirm whether your database is—or is not where it could be:
- Is it constantly growing?
- Are you gaining new subscribers?
- Are your lists segmented?
- Do you have automation set up to keep your lists engaged with specific content?
- Is your content specific to segments?
The Importance of Marketing Automation and Lead Scoring
When well-developed content strategy leads to prospects being added to your marketing automation software, then your content development has achieved its true purpose. From that platform, you’re able to put the power of marketing automation to work for both your sales and marketing team.
Tip: For more information about how various types of email content are critical for marketing automation, check out our blog Send What Converts.
Simply put—marketing automation works. According to a Business to Community article, “research shows that businesses who use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.”
Now, lead scoring is the intelligence your sales team needs to do their job effectively. Each piece of your sales cycle must connect to your CRM as well as to revenue goals. Every lead that enters your system should have a score attached, depending on the level of engagement with your content, or even directly with a sales rep. At a glance, your sales team should have a critical breakdown of where your prospects are in your pipeline and how much potential revenue is associated with closing on those specific sales.
Proper segmenting, lead scoring (generated through strategic marketing automation), and flagging for slippage communicate vital details to your sales team so they know what’s happening with each lead. They can answer critical questions, such as:
- How warm is this lead?
- What kinds of questions and concerns does the lead have at this point? What are potential reasons for a slip, or has the lead already slipped?
- Which content is most intriguing?
- When is the right time for our sales team to reach out?
- How many points of contact have we had?
- Where has the lead dropped off through the process (starting from first hearing of the opportunity, through the first and second appointments, to getting the proposal)?
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Making Your Bottom Line the Top Priority
Is it harder to generate more leads or close more of the leads you already have? Most would agree that slightly increasing close rates is a better approach than having to massively increase lead generation. The numbers speak for themselves. If your goal is 300 new customers, you could go about achieving that goal in two different ways:
15,000 leads @2% close rate = 300 sales
10,000 leads @3% close rate = 300 sales
The more information your sales team has, the more effectively they can work and the more sales they can actually close. Instead of pushing your marketing team for more and more quantity, work toward a smarter approach that focuses on intelligence around the leads you already have; then let your sales team get to work on making better use of their time to close more leads quicker using the critical data they now have at their fingertips.
If you’re not convinced yet, consider the fact that marrying the effort and strategies of these teams is critical to your bottom line. According to the Aberdeen Group featured in a TrackMaven article, companies that optimize the sales and marketing relationship grow revenue 32% faster.
Ready to get started on a path toward a cohesive sales and marketing approach?
Five Practical Steps Toward Aligning Sales and Marketing
- Plan regular points of communication and review/analyze client feedback together
- Work together to define your buyer personas and discuss how your lists will be segmented
- Collaborate on plans for content development
- Establish goals and KPIs together with shared criteria for measuring success
- Conduct extensive training for both teams on how to properly use your CRM
It’s easy to list out five quick bullet points in a blog. It’s much harder to actually implement these things in a company setting where culture and processes have been established for years and are often ingrained subconsciously. That’s why we highly recommend involving an independent marketing company that can act as a third party. Standing in the gap with a fresh perspective, a neutral agency can often see the obstacles hindering your sales and marketing relationship from a unique and unbiased vantage point.
Of course, the process of integrating sales and marketing is one component of a bigger conversation involving digital marketing. For an overview of the broader topic, download our Comprehensive Guide to Internet Marketing.
If you’re ready to get started, request a free consultation or a Gap Assessment to determine where your business can optimize current holes in your marketing, including the relationship between your sales and marketing teams.