Effective marketing and sales alignment doesn’t happen without the dedication of determined leaders. When you consider that a lack of alignment between marketing and sales can cost companies up to 10% of their revenue each year, it puts the severity of the issue front and center. However, the importance of collaboration between the units isn’t limited to financial performance. It impacts the way your employees work with each other, and the way they demonstrate your value proposition to customers. Marketing and sales leaders must make a commitment to come together to better serve their customers, their team members, and the company stakeholders.
1. Make data sharing a priority.
There’s little doubt that the emergence of big data has created countless new possibilities for B2B marketing and sales teams. However, what many leaders fail to realize is the true power of data is only unleashed through collaboration.
Some sales and marketing professionals have a tendency to be overly protective of their data, believing its integrity can only be assured while under lock and key. But each distinct unit gathers various points of data that can be useful to the other, and new patterns can often be detected when streams are analyzed in conjunction with one another. It’s up to the leadership of both divisions to introduce consistent data sharing policies and train their employees accordingly.
2. Co-create content for the top of the sales funnel.
Much has been made about the “content gap” between marketing and sales. Marketers complain the majority of content created never gets employed, while 65% of sales reps maintain they can’t find the right content to help drive value for their prospects. This phenomenon remains one of the most frustrating components of marketing and sales misalignment, mostly because it’s so preventable.
The ideal solution is for representatives from marketing and sales to work together to develop value-added content for the top of the funnel. This way, marketing professionals will know exactly what customers hope to see from content marketing pieces—straight from the sales team’s experience—and salespeople will understand what kinds of content they have available for specific situations.
3. Have marketing professionals listen in on sales calls.
Many marketers make a habit of reading synopses of sales calls or looking at big-picture data, but that isn’t the same as actually listening to a real conversation their sales colleagues are having with actual prospects. There are some specific insights that arise during the course of a sales call that might not exactly translate to a report. Even something as simple as observing the language customers use can spur you to think about your messaging in ways you haven’t previously.
4. Develop a holistic plan of engagement for the buyer’s journey.
Most B2B-focused organizations dole out the responsibility for managing sections of the buyer’s journey as if they are sealed in a vacuum. Although it makes sense for contextual purposes to segment the process into various stages, that isn’t the way the customer truly experiences it. For them, it’s a single experience because it’s all connected to a single problem, and they don’t stop to consider whether or not they’ve moved from the initial research stage to the decision making stage. Marketers and salespeople must work together to create seamless transitions for their leads and prospects, and to implement cohesive messaging throughout each stage of the funnel.
5. Implement cross-training exercises for tools and procedures.
To create lasting harmony between units, it’s as important to understand how your counterparts work as it is to know why they perform the tasks they do. Cross-training provides an important perspective on why people in different roles make the decisions they do, and it also illuminates the tools they use to support their decision making.
Marketers need to understand how various CRM data points fit into prospect engagement strategies. Similarly, it’s beneficial for salespeople to see how marketing automation works to narrow and categorize leads. The more detail and context each department provides concerning its functions and systems, the stronger the connection between the two will be.
6. Build an inherent culture of respect in your department.
As with all aspects of business, the overall culture of a team influences how its members react in specific situations. Far too often in companies, sales and marketing view each other with an “us vs. them” mentality. When the leadership sets this tone, it paves the way for employees to be protective of their own unit, guarded, and suspicious, rather than open, collaborative, and communicative. It’s the responsibility of all managers and leaders to be examples of cooperation that filter down throughout the teams, and to reinforce the idea that marketing and sales representatives can only do their best work when aided by support from each other.
Danny Wong is a marketing consultant, sales strategist, and writer. He does marketing at Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. Connect with him on Twitter @dannywong1190.