10 Ways Marketers Can Take the Collaborative Lead with the Sales Team

January 19, 2016

Sales and Marketing

We all know that marketing and sales teams should be aligned by now, but did you know that lack of cohesion between the departments costs B2B organizations at least 10% of revenue per year?

With such obvious benefits, why do so many companies still struggle with collaboration? At many organizations, the issue is historic: The two groups have not coexisted comfortably, and past struggles may contribute to contemporary dysfunction in working relationships.

As a marketer, it is in your best interests to collaborate with sales on B2B marketing initiatives. So why not be the person who inspires meaningful change? Here are ten ways you can take the lead in transforming the marketing and sales relationship at your company:

10 Ways to Take the Lead in Transforming the Marketing & Sales Relationship

1. Define roles for marketing relational to sales

Effective collaboration starts with a clear understanding of personal and departmental expectations. We tend to think of roles from strictly a marketing standpoint however it’s also important to consider how your responsibilities fit within your organization’s sales methodology.

Clearly defining marketing roles in relation to sales also makes your job easier, allowing you to understand how you can best serve prospects and leads throughout the funnel.

2. Maintain consistent communication with your sales team

When you regularly connect with sales, you can get their perspective on buyer attitudes and pain points. Reducing funnel friction is easier when you understand the language that persuades, and your sales team can provide this for you.

Reach out and initiate cross-team meetings where you can exchange knowledge with the sales team and work through issues. Regular meetings have been shown to improve performance, with best-in-class companies scheduling leadership sit-downs more frequently than other companies.

3. Define your ideal customer with sales

Opportunity is a strong unifying motivator. When the sales team is on board with your lead generation and nurturing activities, they’re more engaged partners.

Invite sales to help identify your ideal buyer – the prototypical prospect who, if provided with a positive customer experience, will positively impact your bottom line. In this collaborative activity, ask questions like:

  • What role does this person have at his or her company?
  • What considerations are most important to them in purchasing decisions?
  • What does their buying process look like?

Having sales pros help create a composite of your ideal customer can improve audience targeting and inspire content that is directly aimed at the decision makers who are most important to your company.

4. Think holistically about your funnel

Defining your ideal customer can also yield important perspective about your funnel. Chances are you’ve mapped out your buyer journey, but have you done this activity with sales? Or at least asked them to contribute feedback?

Brian Zang, VP of Sales and Marketing at ShopKeep, emphasizes the importance of this collaboration. “It’s not a marketing funnel and a sales funnel – it’s just the funnel.” Brian says. “Conversion can require marketing and sales touches at every step.”

5. Align marketing goals with sales considerations

Campaign planning, resource allocation, and other marketing activities should not occur in a vacuum, but with desired sales outcomes in mind. Misaligned objectives can lead to competing team interests and discord. But when marketing goals are synched up with sales targets, teams are incentivized to work together.

6. Participate in sales calls

Sitting in on sales calls allows you to learn firsthand about which issues and concerns are most important to buyers. This activity can also reveal insights regarding buyer language and common objections you can account for in future content. Meanwhile, sales pros will appreciate that marketers are making an effort to understand challenges to selling.

7. Give sales a say in content planning

You can create more directed, relevant content by getting feedback straight from your sales team. Sales pros, after all, are often most familiar with customer needs and priorities.

Lending an ear to your sales team can reveal content holes and can surface insights that allow you to fill your editorial calendar with relevant content.

8. Get data from the sales team

Sales data can also inform your content planning. By understanding where prospects are stalling or dropping out of the purchase funnel, you can create content that both accounts for and enhances each step in the buyer journey. Flagging changes in data can lead to questions and insights. For example, questioning a decrease in the close ratio may reveal changes to the competitive landscape that call for marketing adjustments.

9. Share successful content and make it easy to share

Some pieces of content perform better than others. Help your sales team understand which assets get the most traction with your audience – your content “greatest hits” that are most frequently liked, shared, and commented on. Encourage your sales team to continue amplifying this popular content.

Also, provide your sales team with a full list of content assets they can use to engage prospects and leads at specific stages of the buying funnel. In sharing your list of content, provide a description of the asset, who it’s for, and when it’s appropriate to use it. Who doesn’t like a handy user guide?

10. Continue to close the gap

After you’ve taken steps to increase your collaboration with sales, don’t stop there. Instead, make improving the working relationship an ongoing point of emphasis. Continually solicit collaboration ideas from team members, formalize best practices, and highlight your successes.

Sure, the organization will benefit from your new collaborative efforts, but as you can see, so will you. Don’t wait for others to start bridging the gap for you. Pick one tactic from this list and kick start the collaborative efforts at your company.

Take your marketing and sales collaboration to the next level. Learn how these two teams can nurture leads using multi-channel nurturing. Download our guide:

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