Throughout the history of business, marketing and sales teams have repeatedly run into the same problem: misalignment.
Although both departments share one overall goal of generating revenue for their company, the strategies and success metrics they use are often quite different.
Marketers fuel the lead pipelines and build the brand messaging that enables salespeople to close deals and generate revenue for the company. Despite how linked the two departments are and how much they depend on each other, it can be difficult for salespeople and marketers to have insight into each other's unique challenges -- which can result in disconnection.Although both roles are vital to company growth, it can be difficult for salespeople to keep up with what marketers are doing, and vice versa.
These perceived differences often lead to miscommunication, friction, and other issues related to sales and marketing misalignment.
According to Demand Gen, misalignment is a common struggle throughout workplaces. Nearly half of B2B employees say that the biggest issues with their company's sales and marketing alignment are poor communication, broken processes, and different department-wide KPIs.
If misalignment isn't handled properly, it could cost your company time, money, and customers in the long run. According to a Forrester study, 43% of CEOs say that misalignment has cost them sales.
It's not surprising that friction between marketing and sales can cost a company money. If a sales team is unaware of how they can work with marketing to promote a new product, the product might not get the proper promotion. In another scenario, if sales teams don't tell marketing about the common customer pain points they've heard about on sales calls, the marketing team's campaign might not properly highlight how a product can solve for the customer.
Misalignment is a common -- and sometimes unavoidable -- issue that both marketing and sales teams should be wary of.
At HubSpot, we have thousands of employees who have different goals and varying geographic locations, we understand how it can be difficult to communicate and align.
To avoid misalignment, sales and marketing teams often use meetings, presentations, messaging channels, and our corporate Wiki to inform other colleagues of the projects we're working on, as well as our daily processes. Through testing out different alignment strategies, we've found that it certainly is possible for both teams to communicate, work together, and benefit from each other.
Even if you're a marketer at a smaller company, there are a number of strategies you can try to familiarize yourself with your sales department and their day-to-day goals.
To help you better align with your sales colleagues, I asked a few HubSpot marketers to share their experiences and tips for working with sales teams.
How to Align With Your Sales Team
1. Communicate with salespeople.
All offices are structured differently, but often times sales and marketing employees sit in separate spots. For example, your sales colleagues might sit on the other side of your office, on a dedicated sales floor, or they might work remotely or travel frequently. Even, if a sales colleague sits near you, they're still busy with sales calls and a number of other duties that are vastly different than yours. While you might be curious about what your sales colleagues do each day, they also might want to learn more about your role.
To prevent ambiguity, create a deeper relationship between the two teams, and identify possibilities for collaboration, it's important to put in the extra effort to communicate with sales colleagues and teams via meetings, coffees, email, or even direct messages.
"My biggest tip for marketing and sales alignment is to have an open dialogue," says Kinzie Tomprak, marketing manager of customer stories at HubSpot. "Both teams have important perspectives and you can learn a lot from your counterparts in sales. At the end of the day, you're both working towards the same goal: revenue."
Leslie Ye, a senior content marketing manager and Head of Executive Communication, encourages finding "sales allies" to chat with regularly.
"Find two to three people on the sales team with varying levels of experience and sales styles that can act as a gut check on new pieces of content or marketing initiatives," Ye says. "You can ask them questions like, 'Will this project resonates with salespeople, and if not, how can the work be improved?'"
2. Identify common sales objections.
Sometimes, you think your marketing campaign will be a great success, but then it doesn't translate into viable leads or sales. While you can choose to analyze why it didn't go well with your marketing mindset, it could be even more valuable to ask salespeople for feedback.
Salespeople can often give you more insight into how a customer thinks, what will get them to buy into a product, and what major objections will stop deals from closing.
"One major point of misalignment is when marketing projects that make sense, in theory, don’t actually align with what salespeople need on the frontlines," says Ye. "The best thing a marketer can do to ensure they’re providing value is to devote at least a portion of their time to creating assets that directly address objections in conversations salespeople are already having."
"There are generally two types of objections," Ye adds."Objections to the actual functionality of a product or service, and objections to perceptions or incorrect positioning of your offering. … Marketing should own the response to objections based on misperceptions, as these generally reveal gaps in positioning or messaging."
Ye says that marketers should also track is "closed-lost" objections. These are the deals that are lost in the final stages of the sales process. When marketers know what leads to the close or loss of a sale, they can better position campaigns aimed at generating revenue.
3. Determine who your sales team is competing against.
As a marketer, you should know your competitors, observe their strategies, and aim to improve upon their tactics. Your sales team can help you determine who your company's biggest competitors are and which are actively swiping sales from you. Sales employees can also point out companies that might be stronger competition in the future.
"Marketers should keep a close eye on creating or refreshing assets for these scenarios," says Ye. "Sales teams will likely hear about emerging companies earlier than any other team, as they’re closest to prospective customers."
Once you've identified a detailed list of competitors, take time to do a competitive analysis or a SWOT analysis to see how your marketing strategies compare to theirs.
4. Measure your efforts with sales KPIs.
As a marketer, you might be determining a project's success based on web traffic, clicks, engagements, or a total number of leads. However, if you want to truly understand how your work impacts your sales team, consider using tools to determine how your project impacts sales KPIs, such as deals or qualified leads.
Taking time to think about your project from a sales point of view might help you develop campaigns that can reach your marketing goals while also enabling your sales team to close deals.
"Measure the impact of your marketing efforts down to the bottom line," says Debbie Farese, HubSpot's Director of Global Web Strategy. "A lot of marketers stop at measuring the number of leads they generate. But, to build trust with sales you need to show that those are quality leads and that your marketing content contributes to revenue. Tools like attribution reporting can help you do just that."
Attribution reporting, which Farese encourages, allows you to analyze an asset, such as an advertisement, blog post, or email, to see the number of qualified leads and potential earnings it resulted in.
If your misalignment issues stem from not knowing what sales teams do all day, one way to learn as much about them as possible is by observing your company's sales department for at least one day.
"Go sit on the sales floor," Ye advises. "You’ll get a much better sense of how salespeople share resources with each other and how they work than if you just relied on formal meetings or interviews."
While you're in the sales department, Ye suggests listening to a few sales calls.
"Shadowing is the best way to understand the flow of a sales call, hear common objections, and understand how salespeople use marketing materials in the moment -- or if at all," Ye explains.
Aside from shadowing live sales calls, you could also attend a call review.
"Many sales teams listen to calls as a group and then share feedback. This back-and-forth is incredibly valuable as it sheds light on what makes a good call and how salespeople train each other," Ye says.
Build Alignment in Your Company
Whether you're aiming to build alignment with sales or another department, communication is key. Simply getting to know colleagues in other departments will help you learn more about different goals, points of view, and processes within your company. In turn, this will help you better understand your company's overall mission and possibly identify opportunities for team collaboration.