Marketing and sales teams rely heavily on one another to drive business. After all, it’s the marketing department that generates leads, and the sales team is relied upon to convert those leads to paying customers. It’s not intuitive, then, that these two functions often exist in silos, each having their own systems and processes.
The new way of thinking is that marketing and sales should be a more collaborative effort, and achieving this goal can dramatically improve results. It’s a great concept, but bringing it to fruition can be more complex than it sounds. Without a sound collaboration strategy, attempting to overlap the two efforts often ends up disjointed and, at times, dysfunctional. So, we asked seven thought leaders for their top tips and best practices for making marketing and sales collaboration more efficient.
Brian Zang, VP Sales & Marketing at ShopKeep
“Think holistically about your funnel.
“It's not a marketing funnel and a sales funnel -- it's just the funnel. Stop ‘tossing leads over the fence’ or ‘handing them off’ to sales. It's just the funnel and conversion can require marketing and sales touches at every step. Conversion is best measured by revenue generated and marketing and sales are both responsible.
“Define MQLs and SQLs for your business and your funnel.
“When do you want a salesperson to engage? When should marketing own the lead? How can sales automatically adjust paths after a phone conversation? Put practices in place that understand sales and marketing will have to work together to maximize conversion.”
Erin Wasson, VP of Marketing, UrbanBound
"The first step is making sure each department understands what each side is held accountable for.
“At UrbanBound, we have implemented monthly Smarketing (Sales + Marketing) meetings in order to get everyone on the same page. This gives the two teams a chance to be in the same room and discuss what has or has not been working and what each team needs from one another in order to be successful. Understanding the functionality of a well-oiled "smarketing" machine can be the one factor between a company that fails and one that succeeds."
Bob Marsh, CEO, LevelEleven
Communicate and share successes.
“Here’s the situation, which you’re probably all too well aware of: The modern CMO is held accountable to revenue goals for their marketing investments. But to date there isn’t a clear way to get sales teams aligned on those goals, to execute against those investments. Money is being wasted.
“Here are 5 tips for aligning sales and marketing departments:
- Actually sit in the same room together
- Encourage your team to socialize every now and then
- Encourage empathy between the clans
- Speak the same language
- Share in each other's successes.”
Alex Avritch, Director of Marketing, CLASH Scavenger Hunts
“My best advice: Get on sales calls.
“Marketing is all about knowing your audience, and taking sales calls allows you to get to know them first hand. After a week of taking the occasional call, I felt like I knew our clients personally and that I could better target their needs in our initial online touches.
“Don’t get me wrong, analytics are an amazing thing and I’m definitely a data geek, but when you’re trying to get someone to feel passionately about what you do or the product you sell, sometimes you have to take a step back and relate to the person rather than market to the numbers on your screen.”
Rob Nance, Director of Content Marketing & Consulting Services, Inovautus
Measure the respective goals and incentives for sales and marketing.
“It’s important to have measurement criteria tying to their respective incentives. True collaboration can only exist between marketing and sales if they both have goals and incentives tied to the performance of each other’s camp.”
Joe Moriarty, VP of Sales and Marketing, Content Raven
Provide increased visibility to enable sales teams to engage prospects at the right moment.
“Traditionally, sales teams don't have access to leads until after a campaign or program has ended. The delay in reaching out to prospects when interest is at its peak can be the difference between a qualified lead further engaging with a company or losing interest and potentially going to a competitor. In order to closer align these efforts, marketing teams need to provide sales with increased visibility into how prospects are interacting with marketing collateral and next-generation analytics that can let sales teams know when and how to reach out to leads.
“Measuring things such as engagement, device viewing trends, sharing, printing and download history enable marketers and sales professionals to better collaborate on campaigns and strategies. By improving content to closely align with what leads are most interested in, businesses can improve their lead nurturing campaigns.”
Frank Cespedes, author of Aligning Strategy and Sales: The Choices, Systems and Behaviors That Drive Effective Selling and Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
An ongoing, systemic approach to aligning strategy and sales is key.
“Aligning strategy and sales requires an ongoing systemic approach that integrates three factors internal to the sales organization: the people involved, the control systems that influence their behaviors, and how those controls are applied in the sales force and company environment, with factors external to the sales organization: your business strategy and the target market/customer characteristics that (if you in fact have a strategy) flow from those strategic choices.
“Effective selling is an outcome of an organization's choices and interactions, as well as the motivation and management of sales people. Developing an ideal customer profile and communicating it to those on the frontlines is critical to linking strategy and sales.
“Every company is always (often in implicit and unintended ways) making it easier for some customers to do business with it and harder for others. Customer selection impacts costs, SG&A, profit margins, and (more than generic competency lists) the capabilities of people and the organization. And if you don't choose, your competitors will choose for you.”