Some things just obviously go together — but what if I put sales and marketing together in that list? Would you still think they worked better as a pair?
More than likely, you haven't quite considered your sales and marketing to be the "peanut butter and jelly" of your company. But, sales and marketing alignment is more critical than you think.
Simply put, alignment between marketing and sales is really about focusing on the customer — and, today, the customer's buying behavior has changed significantly.
Fortunately, the better you can align your sales and marketing teams, the more likely you are to delight a prospect. In fact, organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams are 6% more likely to exceed revenue goals.
Here, we're going to explore why sales and marketing matter to a company — and, equally importantly, why they matter together.
Definition of Sales and Marketing
Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company's product or service, while sales encompasses any activities involved in selling that product or service to a consumer or business. One cannot exist without the other. You cannot sell without initially igniting interest in the consumer through marketing, and you cannot be a marketer without having a team prepared to sell the product once you've captured a consumer's attention.
To start, let's explore the advantages of both sales and marketing to your organization.
Sales is ultimately critical to your company's bottom line. You cannot have scalable growth without an impressive sales team. At its most basic, your sales team's goal is to first qualify prospects, reach out and build relationships with them, and ultimately, provide a solution that will benefit the prospect. When done well, a sales transaction results in a sale, a satisfied customer, and revenue for your company.
For sales teams to excel, your salespeople must be invested in the success of your customers. They must understand your prospects' pain points and obstacles, and demonstrate how your product or service is a solution — the best solution — to those problems.
Alternatively, marketing is all about igniting interest in potential consumers, and telling the world your company, and its products or services, exists. Marketing uses both emotion and analytics to reach an audience, and convert curious viewers into qualified leads.
Here's the thing, though — today, a buyer isn't following the traditional "marketing to sales to customer" funnel.
Instead, each individual prospect follows a unique path. One prospect might know they want to purchase your product before even speaking with a sales rep, because they've already been convinced by your Instagram account.
Alternatively, another prospect might speak with a sales rep first, and then require additional marketing in the form of webinars or blog posts, before closing the deal.
Your buyer has unlimited information at her fingertips — she can check out your Facebook page, blog posts, website, and customer product reviews before even speaking with a sales rep.
When a prospect who has already read thirteen customer reviews gets in touch with your sales rep, she's going to require a different conversation than a prospect who's only heard of your company from a Facebook ad.
That is why your marketing and sales teams need to be in tight alignment — because your buyer needs to be communicated with, and sold to, wherever and whenever she wants. The traditional sales and marketing tactics no longer work.
To find scalable growth, it's critical your marketing team communicate all the information they have about a prospect to your sales team before a salesperson even gets on the phone.
Sales and Marketing Strategy
To truly delight your customer, it's critical you reduce friction by implementing a strategy to align your sales and marketing teams. For instance, you might have your sales and marketing teams work together to craft a buyer persona, or document content gap's along a buyer's journey. While it might seem like the two teams have different measurements of success, they should ultimately share the goal of being customer-centric, even at the cost of their individual processes.
Not aligning your sales and marketing teams isn't just unhelpful for the customer — it's also damaging to your bottom line.
But it's easier said than done. Aligning sales and marketing, particularly when you have a growing company, can feel like an incredibly difficult process.
Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can implement to ensure a smoother relationship between the two teams, immediately.
1. Ask your marketing and sales team to create a buyer persona together.
Your marketers have a firm pulse on the consumer — they've conducted extensive research, they've engaged with prospects via social media and email, and they've held focus groups.
But, more than likely, your marketers haven't spoken directly to these prospects. They might not fully understand your prospects biggest pain points, or the challenges they face that your product or service currently can't solve. These insights can only be obtained from your sales team.
Ultimately, to get a full picture of your consumer, it's critical that each team help craft the buyer persona. For instance, perhaps you have your marketing team create an initial buyer persona through research and brainstorming sessions -- but then you gather input from salespeople to modify and refine that persona.
Getting initial input from salespeople, as well as asking for final approval on a buyer persona, is critical to ensure each team is working together with the same consumer in mind.
2. Document content gaps along a buyer's journey.
Your sales and marketing teams should take the time to compile everything both teams have created to help solve for the customer -- including white papers, infographics, e-books, case studies, and email streams.
Then, employees from each team should have a candid discussion about what's missing. Maybe a sales rep notices your marketing team hasn't created any e-books on an issue most of her prospects' face. Alternatively, maybe your marketing team needs your sales team to provide input to craft a more useful customer case study.
Additionally, both teams should take the time to organize and understand what content works best for which stage of the buyer's journey. While likely a tedious process, this will help both teams become more effective in their strategies over the long-term.
3. Keep track of every interaction your customer has with your company.
For instance, consider how you'd feel if you spoke with a sales rep for the first time, and he already knew where you worked, how long you'd been there, which email newsletters you'd subscribed to, and which company networking events you'd attended. You'd likely be more impressed than if you spoke to a sales rep who'd never heard of you before, right?
It's vital you find a way to keep track of each interaction your customer has with your company — a free CRM is incredibly useful for this.
4. Be customer-centric with your language.
All too often, marketers and salespeople use different language and rely on different analytics to measure success. For instance, a marketer's measure of success might be based on blog traffic, Facebook likes, email subscriptions, or YouTube viewers.
Alternatively, a salesperson's ultimate measure of success is revenue.
However, there is one goal both teams share — and that's to be customer-centric.
To align both teams, it's critical your salespeople and marketers consider, first and foremost, the customer. When a marketer emails a prospect, she should consider the person on the other end -- and whether they want to receive that email, and how that email could be helpful for them.
Additionally, when a salesperson picks up the phone, she needs to remember the conversation isn't about making a sale — it's about solving a problem for a prospect.