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As a business, there’s nothing more damaging than being stuck in your old ways, and for sales and marketing teams, breaking out of the mentality that you’re separate functions is essential. Marketing is synonymous with sales — one generates leads, the other converts — and if the right inbound leads aren’t being nurtured then sales don’t stand a chance — and by the way, that responsibility falls on both parties.
8 reasons why sales and marketing alignment is important
There are a number of reasons why bringing sales and marketing teams together can help fuel sales development and revenue growth, but first:
What do we mean by sales and marketing alignment?
In a nutshell, your sales and marketing teams should not be functioning completely separately or worse, be at odds.
With the much longer sales cycle we now have, a misalignment between the two can cause more severe problems. As marketing strategies constantly change, it’s important to break down the wall between sales and marketing and have them support each other through every stage of the buyer’s journey. By encouraging alignment alongside other sales enablement strategies, you can ensure the quality of leads remains high.
So, why is this so important?
We’ve already hinted at it, but let’s break it down further and take a closer look — here’s 8 reasons why aligning sales and marketing is essential.
- Estimates are that sales and marketing misalignment is costing businesses more than £798 billion a year. It’s the number one reason for stagnant revenue and poor sales. A lot of the time, the lack of alignment causes marketing to attract the wrong kind of leads, wasting time and money.
- Properly aligning sales and marketing increases customer retention and win rates, paving the way for profitable growth. Think about the difference this could make to your business. Increases take place across all industries; this is not specific for certain companies but applies to literally every business.
- It helps ensure that leads are not ‘dropped’ when passed from marketing to sales. Collaboration through sales enablement tools such as HubSpot can improve funnel visibility and help marketing understand where their efforts are working, and where they’re not.
- It simplifies workflows and allows the creation of a single customer journey that can be used by the entire organisation. This means that less time is wasted on working out what is going on and who is responsible for what. On-boarding new employees also becomes easier for both teams, with less to explain. A higher sense of structure will be felt by both employees and customers, resulting in an improvement in morale and your reputation.
- It can help avoid marketing from promoting a product or service that is not, in fact, sales-ready. When marketing puts too much effort into vapourware or hypes a product that is then not available for six months it turns into wasted effort and money. It’s important that marketing waits until a release date is ensured and that all sides understand that there is a limit to the amount of time it is wise to hype a product or service before releasing it.
- Similarly, sales and marketing alignment ensures that marketing are passing on leads that are sales-ready. By knowing what a good sales lead looks like they can move the right leads through the funnel which means marketing won’t waste their time (and money) on marketing to non-starters, and sales won’t try and sell to businesses who aren’t ready.
- It helps show the true ROI of your marketing efforts. By recording from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel, you can better track which parts of your marketing and sales strategy are paying off. A lot of the time, companies record how many leads they get from marketing; things like click through rate on social media ads, and they may record how many of those people buy something, but a lot of the time the actual revenue from a customer never gets back to marketing, and marketing never finds out which leads prove to be valuable, loyal customers who stick around.
- It ensures that each side knows exactly what the other is doing and that everyone has a voice. This allows your sales and marketing teams to work together in a concerted effort. Improved communication also tends to help build a sense of community that aids with loyalty to the company and a sense of shared goals.
Top 5 tips for aligning your sales and marketing teams
So, we know we have to align our sales and marketing teams, but the next question is, of course, how. Here are some top tips for doing so in a smooth manner:
1. Create shared buyer personas
Sales knows who is buying; marketing knows how to turn these into buyer personas that can be used to tighten up marketing and increase the ROI. When sales and marketing don’t agree on your ideal customer, then they will start working at cross purposes.
In many cases, sales people will go after any lead they can find, not always ensuring that it is a quality lead. Marketing might know exactly how to go about lead generation, but be wrong about which leads are actually converting. To do this, they should work on buyer personas together. This then helps you understand the particular challenges and pain points they are using your product or service to fix.
2. Collaborate on content
Content marketing is a huge part of a modern marketing strategy, but marketing may not always know exactly what kind of content your customers and prospects are looking for. Sales, on the other hand, talk to your customers day in, day out and can find out from them what kind of information they would like from your company.
Sales should make note of the questions customers frequently ask and pass those questions back to marketing so they can be turned into blog posts or other content. This allows for a content strategy that pulls in the kind of people who are already buying. Using a shared content calendar also ensures sales know when specific content goes up and can be used as a resource during sales calls.
If you take one point away from this whole article then let it be this: talking to each other is essential.
As part of training, marketing team members should listen in on sales calls so they better understand the sales process. Weekly meetings involving the entire team are valuable, although obviously meetings should not be overdone (the old satire about the meeting to decide when we’re going to have the meeting applies here).
So, how can you get the most out of your sales and marketing teams?
Book in your free growth audit and one of our Growth Experts will assess your current sales and marketing strategy, and offer actionable sales enablement advice that you can implement today!
Make sure that sales are giving feedback to marketing on how good the leads are and highlighting any irrelevant or low-quality leads. Routine communication also helps improve morale and make sales and marketing more comfortable with each other and more willing to share ideas and work together.
This can be facilitated by attending events together; if there are no events, then a joint happy hour can go a long way towards building collaboration. Using tools like Slack and creating a channel for sales and marketing to share ideas or resources can also help forge a lasting partnership.
4. Assign ownership within the sales funnel
Sales and marketing should be clear on the different parts of the buying process and what they are responsible for, and sales enablement tools can provide funnel transparency between sales and marketing. Alignment is most important at the middle of the funnel, by working together you can identify the right leads to move on to sales conversations.
Sales and marketing funnels will differ at each business, but a breakdown of the stages and responsibilities we use at Gripped are as follows:
- Subscriber — A subscriber to your blog.
- Lead — Anyone who fills in a content form, they give more than just an email.
Sales and Marketing
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) — Lead has filled in a bottom of the funnel conversion form e.g. book a demo/start free trial. This indicates they are interested in purchasing.
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) — Sales have further qualified the lead, and accept that the lead is sales ready.
This is the important part — sales and marketing should be in constant communication to identify which leads are worthwhile and should be nurtured, which leads are ready to be passed on to sales, which leads didn’t work out, the marketing channels that produce the best leads… you get the idea — but if you don’t, let’s have a chat!
- Opportunity — The SQL is a ‘good fit’ and the sales cycle begins. This will look different for each business but a standard process would include Appointment, Qualified to Buy, Pitch/Demo, Proposal, Final Approval, Closed Won/Lost. Note that deciding a lead is sales-ready and determining their ability to buy are two different things. For more information on lead qualification, check out this article.
- Customer — If you win their business, the opportunity becomes ‘Closed Won’ and is a customer.
5. Track revenue
Generating leads is important; but a lead that never converts is a waste of time. You need to work out which leads are generating revenue and also track customer lifetime value, which helps marketing know how many leads they need to be attracting and where to focus their efforts.
Sales enablement tools allow visibility over which leads have contributed to revenue, and also analytics on the most effective marketing channels. For example, if Twitter is attracting a lot of clicks to your site but very few conversions, then it may not be the best place for your marketers to spend their valuable time. Without good alignment, it’s easy to lose track of which marketing efforts lead to the highest return on investment. A few high quality leads is better than a large number of very general leads that never move down the funnel.
Aligning sales and marketing is vital, and too few companies put any significant amount of effort into it. They say knowledge is power, and aligning sales and marketing teams to share the information they have in today’s data-rich world can result in a business growth powerhouse.