We’re seeing evidence more and more that the demands and priorities of the modern buyer are shifting—and fast. As the conversations and values that interest them continue to morph, sales and marketing alignment becomes even more imperative in your attempt to engage with potential buyers.
Seasoned marketing and sales leaders have likely seen enough proof to understand the need for departmental alignment between these two vital cogs in the lead-gen machine. More importantly, the data shows it: Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing achieved 38% higher sales win rates and retained their customers 36% more often, according to Forrester Research.
The data shows it: Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing achieved 38% higher sales win rates and retained their customers 36% more often.
All sounds very good and well, doesn’t it? So, you may be scratching your head as to why more brands don’t opt for alignment between their sales and marketing teams. Here’s the thing—this kind of unity requires immense dedication and sustained intentional effort. Teams that have been historically siloed, maybe even at odds, may find it difficult to move into this kind of collaboration. Our two cents? It’s worth the growing pains. Let’s take a look at why.
We’re All Trying to Date the Same Person, Right?
One way of looking at it is that we’re all trying to date the same person: the digitally driven, socially connected, information-empowered modern buyer. At any moment, they can jump from the marketing stage to the sales stage of their journey. Take note, if you want to make a smooth first impression, a jarring transition is not the way to a second date (or sale). Allowing the sales and marketing teams’ expertise to feed into one another is one way to pave over any bumps and create more continuity in the customer experience. Now, if you’re teams are used to riding solo, you’re probably wondering where to start. Let’s take a look at how you can make this happen.
1) Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Live Without ‘Em
Despite what some sales and marketing teams might believe about the other, each is essentially playing a different role on the same mission. Sales teams need marketing teams to prime the pump by establishing brand authority, while marketing needs insights from sales to fuel their strategy.
To reiterate what we said before: The modern buyer is different. With endless information at their fingertips, they’re not going to engage with a brand unless they feel informed. In short: Trust matters. Like, a lot. And how do you begin to establish trust with the consumer? Marketing.
Consider the obstacles that sales teams face today, such as those outlined in a CMI/LinkedIn survey:
- 92% of prospects start the buying journey with an information search
- 53% have a better experience going online and researching rather than interacting with a salesperson
- 75% depend on social networks to learn about different vendors
- 90% won’t even pick up a cold call
Despite these challenges, sales teams have major value to bring to marketing. For starters, they happen to be a raging river of customer data. With insights straight from the trenches, the information they gather can ensure that your business is reaching out to the right audience at the right time, and with the right materials. As soon as each side understands the symbiosis between them, alignment can begin.
2) We’re Not So Different, You and I
As players on the same team, the first thing marketing and sales departments should be looking toward is their shared goal line: the target audience. When creating foundational buyer personas and buying process maps, the best success comes when both teams bring their knowledge and expertise to the table to create a cohesive, well-rounded understanding of this target customer. This includes an understanding of their daily responsibilities and routines, their desires and demands, and their motivations to buy. Having access to information from both teams during this process helps to better inform the rest of your strategy, from call scripts to marketing campaigns.
3) On the Same Hook
Sales professionals are often paid on commission or by bonuses from how many demos they can book, their rate of conversion from demo to opportunity, and the percentage of won deals. For marketers, their KPIs are tied to website traffic, click-throughs, and number of leads generated. Still, each is tracking their progress by a shared measure: conversion rates.
By creating alignment through a shared goal for better conversion rates, the steps towards that goal, like defining qualifying leads and tactics, for example, will also fall into alignment.
4) Talk the Talk
Like any relationship, good communication is key. Without regular reporting between teams, the ability to meet prospects’ needs will be short-lived. The most effective connections are open and honest, allowing both teams to discuss what is and what is not working, and offer insights into stages of the journey that team members might not see on a day-to-day basis. An added bonus is that a consistent dialogue between teams helps to establish a rapport and nurtures a more meaningful relationships within your company and with your customers. In other words: wins all around.
5) The More the Merrier
Don’t get too comfortable— the best relationships need consistent upkeep. Once your teams have aligned, getting fresh feedback from consultants and agencies on any issues they’ve observed can be helpful. Stakeholders typically won’t proactively share these thoughts, so you’ll likely have to seek out this kind of feedback. Our experience? It’s well worth it and can be transformative as you learn to collaborate with one another.
Want more than the Cliff’s Notes on alignment between sales and marketing?