Canadian Manufacturing

The top six steps to sales and marketing alignment

Grow qualified leads and revenue by breaking down the silos

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—Sponsored article by The Mezzanine Group

When any organization explores ways to generate revenue, there are traditionally two main departments under the microscope: sales and marketing.

Although these departments do have very distinctly different roles and responsibilities within your organization, they share a common goal—increase revenue to the bottom line.

For two departments with the same goal, you would assume that these two groups work well with each other. Unfortunately, in some organizations, that isn’t always the case.

The silo between marketing and sales is real
It’s not that marketing directors and sales directors purposely avoid working with each other. Silos between the two departments could have developed organically over time. Organizational changes, budget cutbacks, people leaving, or the whirlwind of day-to-day tasks that continue to pile up can be contributors to this unhealthy department relationship.

The Senior Leadership Team at any company is always looking to increase revenue. But cost cutting and new service offerings don’t always have to be the only solutions. Has your business ever considered making it a priority to encourage alignment between the sales and marketing departments?

When sales and marketing departments work well together, your organization will benefit from increased productivity in both departments, and a smarter approach to increased qualified leads for the sales organization.

What comes first, the sales rep or the marketer?
Tearing down the silo isn’t a one-department job.

Over the years, The Mezzanine Group has come to realize that both departments need to be held responsible for building a stronger communion so that together they can improve inbound marketing campaigns for the collective organization.

Encouraging any sort of change or adaptation isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve put together the top six suggestions to get your sales and marketing teams working together.

Step 1: Make this a business priority
As a senior leader, your presence and encouragement in building this relationship between sales and marketing is going to be vital for success.

Changing the habits of your sales and marketing groups needs to be a business priority for at least twelve months.

Attend sales and marketing meetings. Report the number of marketing qualified leads during town hall meetings. Then report on how many turned into sales. Hold senior managers involved accountable. Continue to communicate why this change is important to everyone in the business.

Having your sales and your inbound marketing team aligned isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must to keep your business successful into the future.

Step 2: Marketing and sales need to speak the same language

Every company has it’s own unofficial acronym list/dictionary. Some of those terms are shared across the organization, while others are specific to certain departments.

The members of your sales and marketing team need to learn and understand each other’s vocabulary. Knowing how to talk to one another will allow each team to properly communicate important information and details from their respective departments.

For example, inbound marketers speak data. They know how to read stats and reports from Google Analytics and Google AdWords, but sales reps may not understand the importance of the term “cost per click” or what “bounce rate” means.

When a marketer understands how success and failure is defined across sales teams, she will be able to properly communicate the data points that matter most to her sales colleagues.

On the sales side, a sales rep may have a great content idea brewing in the back of his mind. He just may not know how to articulate that into “marketing terms.” By creating a universal language together, sales and marketing can truly begin to communicate with one another.

Step 3: Regular collaborative meetings
This is arguably the most crucial and overlooked step in many B2B companies.

Sales reps interact with clients everyday. Sales knows the types of questions your clients are asking. A marketing strategy will benefit immensely with those details.

A marketing team can produce stronger inbound marketing materials to help answer common client questions through various content pieces. Your organization will begin to build a stronger relationship with potential clients before ever talking to sales through sales informed marketing collateral.

By conducting regular collaborative meetings, sales and marketing teams can begin to work together on new marketing material that will support sales meetings. The marketing team will have a much better understanding of gaps within your sales enablement tools.

Perhaps there are important sales pitch material that don’t exist. Without regular communication between the two departments, this ask may never come up. Sales managers will also be able to provide guidance on how flexible these materials need to be so sales can customize the material when necessary all while keeping within your brand guidelines. And your sales team will not be spending their time building collateral that may not align with company branding.

These regular meetings will also provide sales the opportunity to share success stories with the marketing team so they can better understand what is and isn’t working. Details on campaign performance is critical for inbound marketers. They want to create amazing assets and campaigns that drive sales. But if something isn’t working, sales needs to provide this feedback to your marketing department. At the end of the day, it will benefit the sales team.

Step 4: Define marketing and sales qualified leads
Have you seen a lead pass to sales that wasn’t followed up?  It indicates a problem with engagement between the two teams.

Downloading a whitepaper from the resources area of the website does not make that contact a lead for sales. Instead, marketing should connect with that contact with additional content, in a structured and strategic manner to build engagement and predict their intent to purchase. This is considered a marketing qualified lead.

The traditional sales funnel has been replaced by a pinball machine with potential customers engaging and disengaging with a company due to shifting business priorities and busy calendars. This can happen over weeks and months.

Rather than wasting sales time by passing a new contact immediately along, ensure marketing qualified leads are nurtured and passed along to sales only after they have indicated repeated interest over time. This will ensure the leads are of higher quality (that old quality over quantity debate answered!) and sales will experience the benefit of responding to them.

With those regular collaborative meetings in place, marketing and sales can define what is considered a quality lead. Is a marketing qualified lead defined as someone who reads a monthly newsletter? What happen when a contact downloads a white paper and then attends a webinar on that same topic? Is that person now considered a sales qualified lead?

When sales is involved in defining these parameters, they will be much more inclined to follow-up on sales qualified leads handed over to them from the marketing department.

Step 5: Invest in sales training for your marketing team
Many organizations are quick to invest in training and platforms for sales teams. If you want to successfully increase the amount of qualified leads that are being handed off to your sales reps, you need to also invest in the proper training for your marketing team.

This can be as simple as having your marketing team go through the training programs you have in place for sales. If your sales training is only focused on product knowledge, have your marketing team sit in on sales meetings instead.

Marketers gain a better understanding of the sales cycle when they shadow the sales team. Reps who are in it everyday know and understand the sales cycle for different products and services offered by your organization. Your marketing team may not fully understand those details. Just like sales may not fully understand the inbound marketing cycle. Again, these are two different jobs!

Have sales explain and outline the common sales cycle of top selling products and services. Or better yet, the sales cycle for the products and services that require additional support from your marketing team.

Outside of training investments on products, marketing teams need to invest in new content and platforms to get content out to your audience. Treat each revenue-generating department equally.

Step 6: Hold someone accountable
You can’t spend all of your time ensuring that marketing and sales are working together. Therefore, you need to determine who will be the liaison between marketing and sales.

Who is responsible for ensuring alignment between sales and marketing? Is it the Director of Sales or the VP of Marketing? Is there a hired headcount who is specifically responsible for this role?

This individual needs to be responsible for ensuring an open and healthy relationship with good communication between teams. They should be someone in a senior role who ideally has experience in bringing sales and marketing teams together. In some cases, you may hire an additional headcount who has both sales and marketing experience. But this is not an easy role to fill.

That’s why many B2B organizations have hired The Mezzanine Group in the past as the team has years of experience of tearing down the sales and marketing silos.

By following these six steps, you’ll create a revenue generating powerhouse for your organization. Just remember, these changes won’t happen overnight. In order to see true success, as a senior leader, you must make this a priority within your role.
Need help? Contact the experts at The Mezzanine Group today!

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