Last week, I got a marketing email announcing a major promotion (three months free) about a product I had just purchased and paid full price for. When I contacted my Sales rep to ask about the promotion and see if they could grant me the discount, he said he knew nothing about it. Needless to say, this made him look bad in my eyes. I mean, why did I know more about his company than he did? Secondly, when he did speak with Marketing, they informed him this promo was just for prospects, not customers like me. This left a bad taste in my mouth as the company clearly valued new business more than existing customers.
In this instance, it was clear to me as the customer that Sales and Marketing were not in alignment. My Sales rep was frustrated, which he shared with me. This further undermined my trust in the company. And Marketing, while trying to do their job, was sending messages that new customers were far more important than existing ones. Not the message, I am sure, they were meaning to send.
When the customer journey isn’t well-orchestrated, Marketing and Sales can do serious damage in the marketplace. But when it is, they are a powerful force for business growth. Here’s a positive example.
A large healthcare company that I have been working with just dramatically overhauled their Sales and Marketing departments to ensure increased teamwork and better alignment. By holding them accountable to the same sales goals, the department teams began working together on their strategies.
Here’s how it broke down: Marketing took on the work of buyer personas, lead quality, and better positioning of Sales teams in the marketplace.
Sales took on the role of actually using the information that Marketing provided to close the sale. In addition, they would continually give feedback and ideas to Marketing about what was working for the Sales team and what was not. The result? A thirty-six percent increase in closed won sales in one year. Amazing!
The moral of the story is clear. The path to growth and profitability is through the alignment of your Sales and Marketing teams. Here are six strategies that Marketing can use to get your Sales teams to not only want to work with you, but love you.
6 Strategies To Improve Marketing & Sales Alignment
1. Ask For Input
The role of Marketing is to do the research, study the target market, and create compelling content that helps salespeople sell the products. The problem is, according to The American Marketing Association, over 90% of content created by marketing is never used by salespeople. As Marketing professionals, begin by getting the sales team to buy-in to the content you are creating. After all, what good is great content if no one ever sees it? So before you start building, sit down with your Sales team and ask for their ideas and input. One, you will get their buy-in right off the bat, as the Sales team will support what they help create. And two, you may just get some really good ideas.
2. Step Into Their World
If you want Sales to respect your role, begin by respecting theirs. There is nothing more powerful for understanding what exactly salespeople do and experience than going on or at least listening to sales calls. As a Marketer, you can gain far better insight as to the customer’s pain points and challenges by listening to them directly then you can from doing research. In addition, going on sales calls will ensure you understand first-hand the challenges the sales team is dealing with, and the experiences they are having. This will broaden your scope of how to use your marketing expertise to overcome these challenges.
3. Let Them Get Personal
With your content, that is. I know, there is a brand image to protect, and you don’t want the perfect language you have spent hours crafting to go to waste, but you need to allow salespeople to make it their own. If you want them to use your copy, then you need to allow them to make it sound like it is theirs. Remember, salespeople really know your customers, not as a target market, or a collective group, but as individuals. And allowing them to make a comment about a baseball team, or a customer’s favorite restaurant, is not only going to ensure that they use your copy, but it will also make it more effective. So when you create that beautiful piece, let them know you are leaving room for them to personalize and make it more effective.
4. Build A Better Mousetrap
Build a better mousetrap—a better process for lead quality, that is. One of the most valuable functions of Marketing to Sales is lead generation. If you want to transform your relationship with Sales, then get them better leads. And to get a better lead, you need a better mousetrap, i.e. a better buyer persona. While Marketing does the heavy lifting to clearly define who the target should be, it would be wise to get the input of the Sales team. They know the customers, they experience first-hand who is buying and who is not. Using their input to deepen the understanding of the buyer persona will give Marketing the information you need to create more qualified leads.
5. Shine The Spotlight
For the most part, salespeople are good at one thing – selling products and services. What they are not good at it is selling themselves – doing the things they need to be doing to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and highlight the value that they bring to the sale. This is one place Marketing can really gain traction in enhancing the relationship between Sales and Marketing.
Take the time to interview your Sales team, get to know who they are, and the skills and talents they have. Then, use that information to create valuable content they can use for blogs, personalized videos, LinkedIn posts, sales letters, and follow-up strategies to better connect with customers and drive sales. Marketing can help Sales develop their personal brands, that all-important piece that will differentiate them in an overly crowded marketplace, and help them gain a competitive advantage.
6. Invite Them Into Your World
Last but not least, ask them to come and see Sales through your world. Salespeople run hard and fast, moving at rapid speed to get the close. They do not always understand how other departments, especially Marketing, can help them. Once you have followed these other steps and established trust with your Sales team, invite them into your world. Show them, firsthand, the things you can do to help them open more doors and close more sales.
This is one of the most powerful steps Marketing can take to get Sales to love you, but also to create strong alignment and ways of working together. I just spoke at a Sales conference in the Education Materials industry. It was an event focused on the top 600 sales professionals in the country, and sitting right up front was the Marketing department. They were there to get insight into what Sales was celebrating, and where they were headed in the coming year. It was truly exemplary.
After the event, I spent some time talking with the Senior Vice President of Marketing, and she shared that part of their success could be directly tied to the constant shadowing the Sales team was doing with Marketing. About a year before, the Marketing department started inviting sales team members into their department once a week to show them what they were working on and how they were focusing on driving sales. This Senior Vice President said the results were magical – better communication, fantastic input, and total buy-in and support with Sales and Marketing.
If you want to drive sales and grow your business, then look at the alignment of your Sales and Marketing teams. Is there room for improvement? Are there things you can do to take it up a notch?
In a perfect world, Sales would respect what Marketing does and would welcome the insight you have to drive sales. But the world is not perfect, and if you want to transform your relationship with Sales, then take the lead, and follow these steps. Then sit back and watch as not only the alignment with sales and marketing increases but so will your bottom line!