Can You Feel the Love? 12 Tips for Aligning Sales and Marketing

Jami Oetting
Jami Oetting

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There is a constant tension between sales and marketing. 

While both are focused on the same end goals, these departments often struggle to align.

And while having a competitive spirit can be good for a business, internal departments should not battle with one another.

Perfect harmony is a lot to ask for, but there are things you can do to better align these departments and make strides towards creating a more productive relationship. 

Here are 12 tips on aligning sales and marketing from a few agency professionals:

1) Define a Process for Closing the Loop

It often comes down to processes. Define up-front (together) what constitutes a sales-ready lead, and work backwards from there. Marketing then needs to put a number of strategies in place to achieve the quality of leads sales demands. Sales needs to effectively use a CRM (that’s connected back to the marketing platform) so that marketing can continue to improve on the quality of leads. Closing the loop is so important to understanding how your best customers are finding your business and what activities assisted in the conversion of the lead to a customer.

- Matt Lee | Adhere Creative

2) Establish an Exchange Program

Rotating your marketing staff into the sales team for brief immersion periods and vice-versa. Follow up with monthly meetings to make improvements.

- Justin Pavoni | Creatrix Marketing

3) Share the Knowledge

Education is key. Create short, weekly screencasts showing how sales and marketing, when in alignment, can increase efficiency and productivity for the entire organization. Showcase small wins to get people excited and mix strategy and tactics. For example, discuss the importance of social engagement but then also show them how to use features like LinkedIn's or Twitter’s Advanced Search to do prospecting and discover industry influencers.

- Jeff Coon | Stream Creative

4) Create Shared Definitions

Have sales and marketing sit down together and set their marketing and sales targets as a team. What is the definition of a lead, both marketing and sales qualified? How many leads does it take to produce an opportunity? How many opportunities to produce a sale? With everyone on the same page and all focused on the overall revenue target for the company, there is less friction and more of a focus on the bigger picture.   

- Wes Powell | TMR Direct

5) Invest in Communication

Think of sales and marketing as a football team’s offense. Marketing is the offensive line and sales makes up the rest of the offense (QB, RB, TE, WR, etc.). If the QB (sales) isn’t communicating defensive movement, the offensive line (marketing) risks missing blocks and letting defenders crush their QB. If the offensive line doesn’t communicate among themselves and the rest of the offense, defenders will spot weaknesses and send the offense moving backwards. The more the two groups communicate with one another, the better the chance they have at reaching the end zone (landing new client, reaching goals, and surpassing quotas).

-  Craig Kilgore | Mainstreethost

6) Understand Each Other’s Capabilities

My one tip is that sales and marketing should simply be closer in conversation. With frequent communication about each other’s goals, perspectives, and processes, the sales and marketing process will go much smoother. It’s hard to sell if you don’t know what marketing can offer and what makes them tick, and marketing gets frustrated if sales makes promises they can’t fulfill due to limited resources (time, talent, and budget). If possible, sales and marketing should be in the same room during the proposal development so everyone has a identical baseline of the project from the beginning.

- Bethany Shepard | Element Three

7) Get Sales Involved in Content Planning

When planning your blog posts , solicit ideas from sales. Your sales reps are wonderful resources since they hear about different situations every day that marketing should be writing about. As they work leads, it’s helpful to have blog posts to send prospects to reinforce conversations about specific situations.

- Rick Whittington | Whittington Consulting

8) Focus on People

Despite all of the amazing technology we have at our disposal, achieving sales and marketing alignment really comes down to proper team management. It is really a human issue in my mind. If you can get your people and processes aligned, the technology will facilitate the rest.

- Jesse Mawhinney | Kula Partners

9) Establish a Service-Level Agreement

Establishing a SLA between your sales and marketing teams is a must to ensure alignment and goal setting. The SLA should establish goals, consistent communication, and collaboration opportunities, but most importantly, it should assign a champion from each team to lead.

- Bill Faeth | Inbound Marketing Agents

10) Create Trust

Building a collaborative work environment between marketing and sales is based on trust. Involve the sales team in the content creation process. Get initial buy-in by harvesting the most frequently asked questions they get from prospects and providing them with digital resources that can be used again and again to answer those questions. Check in often and see how you can make their job easier.

- Chris Handy | Thinkhandy

11) Make Regular Meetings a Priority

Ensure that your sales and marketing teams are meeting with each other to stay informed on what they are both doing. If your sales team has no idea what your marketing promotions are, then they do not have the opportunity to capitalize on the promotions when speaking with leads.

- Seth Fendley | ClearPivot

12) Create a Content Repository

If you want to take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level, use a content-wiki. Map out all the questions asked in the sales process, and create blog content, PDFs, videos, and case studies that answer those questions and common pushback responses. Use this content as a marketing resource. Then, make it easily searchable for your sales team to use in their sales process.

- Ross Simons | Innovative Marketing Resources

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