For instance, imagine this: your prospect has been researching a new video conferencing tool for weeks. She's finally found one company she's extremely interested in — yours.
Before calling a sales rep, your prospect decides to read numerous blog posts on your website. She also downloads an ebook, watches your company's YouTube videos, and even chats in a few of your community forums.
Once your marketing materials have convinced her your product could be a good fit, she decides to call one of your company's sales rep.
Unfortunately, the sales rep has no background knowledge on the content with which the prospect has already interacted. The sales rep begins a generic introductory sales pitch, not realizing your prospect is almost ready to buy — she just has a few final questions.
This results in a less-than-ideal user experience for your prospect, who won't feel valued as someone who's been interacting with your brand's content for weeks already.
This isn't an ideal experience for your company's sales or marketing teams, either. If the sales rep was aware of the content with which the prospect has interacted, they'd have an easier time connecting with the prospect and understanding her needs upfront.
However, if your marketing and sales teams are primarily remote or operate out of different locations, it can be even more challenging to align the teams than it would be in-person. That's where good remote leadership comes into play.
For this article, I've spoken with Debbie Farese, HubSpot's former Director of Sales Enablement and current Director of Global Web Strategy, and Matt Hambor, HubSpot's Corporate Sales Manager, to gather insights into how you might align your own distributed marketing and sales teams.
3 Tips for Aligning Distributed Marketing and Sales Teams
1. Ensure your goals are aligned across distributed marketing and sales teams.
Ultimately, to align distributed marketing and sales teams, it's critical you ensure both teams have clearly identified mutually-beneficial goals.
Debbie Farese told me: "Goal alignment is the best way to ensure sales and marketing teams are aligned, no matter where they sit. For marketing, this means looking at metrics that factor in the quality of leads generated, not just the quantity. Examples are lead-to-qualified-lead rates, close rates, revenue per lead, and more."
Farese added, "For sales, this means committing to working the leads that marketing generates and tracking this along with success in closing deals. Examples are work rates, productivity per rep, and more."
Ultimately, it's not enough to say you've aligned goals across teams. Instead, you need to prove it, with some of the metrics Farese mentions above. And, whether your team is remote or in-office, you'll want to continue to foster meetings that allow both teams to pivot if your current strategy isn't enabling the teams to work hand-in-hand effectively.
For instance, let's say your sales team has identified "inform customers of new product features" as a major goal for the year. However, this goal hasn't been properly communicated with the marketing team.
Undoubtedly, this causes friction for the prospect. A prospect might receive tons of high-quality marketing materials before speaking with a sales rep — including ebooks, blog posts, webinars, newsletters, and YouTube videos — but they'll feel caught-off guard if most marketing materials don't mention the product's new features.
It makes it easier for both your sales and marketing teams to effectively perform their roles if both teams are well-aligned in a few critical goals.
And, most importantly, it makes it easier on your prospects and customers if your teams are aligned. You don't want your prospects to feel like your company is disorganized, or that they're receiving disparate information from different teams within your larger organization.
2. Have your marketing team listen to sales calls or join Slack conversations.
If your sales team is largely remote, that likely means your sales reps function primarily via video or conference calls to close deals, rather than in-person customer meetings. This could make it easier to integrate marketing into the sales process, or enable marketing leaders to listen, on occasion, to prospect conversations to ensure the marketing team is delivering relevant content.
For instance, Farese told me, "Through remote work, it's easier than ever for marketing to listen in on customer and prospect calls to understand their persona even better, develop empathy for sales reps, and get an understanding for what content and messaging really resonates."
Additionally, Matt Hambor mentioned as a leader of a remote team, it's critical you "encourage everyone to contribute to communication via Slack, email, or text. If you hear a good idea or success story from a member of your team, encourage them to share it with the larger group."
This concept can also help align your marketing and sales teams — for instance, you might invite members of your marketing team to your sales team's Slack channel, so they can take note of customer concerns and successes and consider using those stories as Case Studies or by highlighting the customer in a company newsletter.
3. Create both formal and informal opportunities for sales and marketing to collaborate.
Matt Hambor, who's been managing a majority remote sales team for over two years, told me a few tactics he's used to facilitate team bonding and cross collaboration. Hambor says, "Setting clear expectations and being transparent when dealing cross-functionally is critical with any type of collaboration, but even more important when it's remote."
You might try implementing a few cross-department virtual meetings once a month, or once a quarter. Hambor's team, for instance, meets with a HubSpot Marketing Manager once a month for a standup meeting in which both teams are able to ask questions and ensure their priorities are well-aligned.
By ensuring your sales team is able to glean insight into marketing strategies and priorities, you're ensuring your sales reps have a firm understanding of your prospects' entire start-to-finish buyer's journey, so they can better meet prospects wherever, and whenever, they'd like to be met.
Additionally, Hambor mentions he often hosts weekly happy hours, contests within the team, and other more casual events to facilitate team bonding. To align your sales and marketing teams, then, you might try creating a quarterly remote happy hour, trivia game, or cross-department bonding activity.
Ultimately, whether your teams are remote, in-person, or a mixture of both, Hambor says it's vital as a manager that you show you care about your employees' well-being. Hambor says, "It's important you ask how your employees are doing … and actually care. They could be going through things you don't have exposure to. It's important you have a genuine interest in their well-being and success. The last thing you want is your remote teammates feeling isolated and insecure reaching out and asking for help."
Once you've implemented some strategies mentioned above, consider sending a survey to your sales and marketing teams to gather insights into other potential opportunities for cross-department collaboration and partnership. Your marketing and sales teams will thank you — and so will your prospects and customers.
Editor's note: The post was originally written in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Jul 22, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated July 22 2020