Conducting the Perfect Sales & Marketing Meeting: How to Effectively Reach Alignment
November 21, 2018
With marketing and sales alignment top of mind across organizations, we see countless articles discussing the strategic nature of this partnership. While it’s key to take a strategic, thoughtful approach to alignment, it’s just as important to nail down the tactical, nitty-gritty details. We’re doing that here by zeroing in on how to get aligned through sales and marketing meetings. Execute your part well, and your sales counterparts will soon be singing your praises and seeing you as the valuable ally you are in helping achieve shared goals.
What is a Sales and Marketing Meeting?
This is a periodic meeting between sales and marketing aimed at ensuring initial and ongoing alignment between the two groups. The goal is to arrive at a common understanding of and agreement around goals, tactics, expectations, strategy, and performance.
The initial marketing and sales alignment meeting typically involves leaders from each group. In some cases, this is the department head, e.g., the CMO or Director of Marketing and VP or Director of Sales. However, some organizations choose to assign an alignment leader from each department, say a Marketing Manager and an Account Executive. These two department representatives become accountable for ensuring their respective teams are sticking to the alignment plan and executing as necessary.
The initial meeting between the team leads is focused on defining the goals and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for the alignment initiative, as well as the agenda for the other key meeting, which is between the combined marketing and sales teams.
Defining Goals for Your Sales and Marketing Meeting
Marketing and sales leadership should define the overarching goals for the alignment efforts. Part of this is creating the SLA mentioned above. The SLA is essentially a commitment between marketing and sales, defining the goals and performance expectations for both teams as they work toward a common goal.
It helps if marketing and sales have already met to develop strategies for building a stronger pipeline. Topics should cover everything from defining the ideal customer, identifying target accounts and contacts, and outlining a content marketing strategy to determining processes for engaging and nurturing prospects and validating leads.
Tips for Effective Sales and Marketing Meetings
Scheduling a recurring meeting for every week or two is a smart way to get started with alignment meetings. Over time, you may find that it’s suitable to meet less often, such as once per month. Beyond that, you can increase the likelihood of productive meetings by following these tips.
Schedule Different Meetings for Different Attendees
Though it’s important to hold a kickoff meeting involving everyone in the marketing and sales groups, it’s often best that only a handful of representatives from marketing and sales attend the regular ongoing meetings. Meetings with too many attendees can get bogged down and tend to be less productive. At the same time, schedule monthly meetings where marketing and sales leadership dig into plans and programs, as well as problems that might be derailing alignment.
Designate Spokespeople from Each Team
Consider assigning a designated team member from each group to collect feedback during separate team meetings. These spokespeople represent their respective teams at the series of ongoing marketing and sales meetings to discuss alignment progress toward revenue goals, as well as concerns, challenges, and opportunities.
Encourage Friendly Interactions
Keep in mind that one core goal is to build and strengthen the relationship between marketing and sales. In many organizations, this is a rocky relationship, so it may take a creative approach to get the two teams freely interacting. One idea is to set aside the first few minutes of each meeting for marketing and sales to interact in a relaxed manner. This will hopefully pave the way for meaningful dialogue during the meeting.
Keep Things Moving with Daily Stand-Ups
You may also want to consider holding daily stand-up meetings. The genesis of these is from the Agile software development manifesto and methodology, which is designed to empower cross-functional teams to effectively collaborate and iterate while producing meaningful results in short time frames. Many marketing and sales organizations have embraced this concept by adopting some Agile concepts. One of these is valuing customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy. What could speak more directly to the goal of alignment?
With that in mind, you could schedule daily stand-ups between marketing and sales. As the name implies, this is a daily meeting where everyone stands up. Intended as a very brief meeting of 15 minutes maximum at the start of the day, it translates into a productive, focused meeting that gets everyone thinking about the day’s priorities. That said, only so many people can share an update in 15 minutes, so you’ll need to limit the number of attendees.
In essence, this meeting helps both teams understand what was done yesterday and what is being tackled today. Holding this meeting daily in the same designated spot – that doesn’t offer seating options – helps ensure roadblocks get addressed quickly, and instills confidence that marketing and sales are truly in alignment. Plus, it offers the chance to document everyone’s activities to better gauge progress over time. One common way to do this is using a persistent whiteboard or chart with sticky notes that track progress on projects.
Creating Your Sales and Marketing Meeting Agenda
Agendas are the tool that keeps meetings focused and productive. Let’s review some ways you can get the most from your agenda.
Tip 1: Set a Clear Agenda
Make sure your team leads set a clear agenda before each meeting. Give ample time to discuss the viewpoints and concerns of both marketing and sales, as well as to discuss joint efforts. Spell out the allotted time for each discussion point.
You’ll take a different approach with the agenda for your stand-ups, with a focus on understanding three key things:
What has been accomplished in the last few days?
What are you working on now?
Is there anything blocking you from what you’re working toward?
Tip 2: Keep SLAs on the Agenda
Make sure to reference the SLAs at least once in every meeting agenda. The SLA is essentially a touchstone keeping both teams focused on their common goal(s), so it’s critical to keep coming back to this. Plus, it helps both teams come up with relevant action items going forward.
Tip 3: Share the Agenda Before Meetings
Send the agenda to all attendees a few days in advance. This gives everyone insight into what to expect and allows them to come prepared to discuss relevant items, making for a more productive meeting. Ideally both marketing and sales will aggregate and analyze relevant data before the meeting so they can engage in productive discussions. The idea is that both teams should go into each meeting with their point of view shaped by data and insights. For example, “Here’s how we can drive revenue on these accounts/audiences – let’s discuss.”
Tip 4: Close Each Meeting with a To-Do List
Leave time at the end of each meeting for the team leads to document and assign action items. Be sure to clarify responsibilities and timelines for each. For more complex action items, set clear milestones.
Common Sales and Marketing Meeting Themes
Ultimately, you want to develop a simple agenda that consistently covers relevant themes or categories. While you should create an agenda that makes sense for your organization, here are some common themes.
Use these meetings to share any relevant strategies, such as new account based marketing and account based sales plans. Giving everyone insight into strategies is how you get the teams to back them. Plus, sharing in this way instills confidence that marketing and sales are truly being treated as allies in partnership.
Review SLA(s) in each marketing and sales alignment meeting to assess how well the combined teams’ efforts are contributing to achieving the goal(s). Remember to avoid placing blame for any failure to meet SLAs. Instead, SLAs should be presented as a useful measurement for keeping everyone focused on working toward a common goal.
Content, Campaign, and Competition Review
Marketing should share details about both planned and in-progress campaigns and content, specifically outlining how sales can make use of these. It’s also helpful for marketing to highlight content and offers that are performing well, so sales knows which to prioritize in their prospect outreach and nurturing. At the same time, sales should share feedback on which content and offers are resonating well and falling flat so marketing can make adjustments to content and campaigns. This is also a prime opportunity for sales to share insights on the competition.
Buyer Engagement and Trends
Sales should share what they’re seeing in terms of buyer engagement and general market trends. Marketing should also share insights gleaned from research, such as hot topics for conversations with prospects, along with the storyline in the content being used to attract and engage early-stage prospects. That way sales will know how to continue the conversation where marketing leaves off.
Use Linkedin to Improve Sales and Marketing Meetings
To ensure highly effective meetings, you can call upon the LinkedIn platform and solutions for every stage.
Use LinkedIn for Pre-Meeting Research
One sure way for marketing and sales to butt heads is to argue over opinions. Instead, both marketing and sales should come to each meeting prepared to discuss real data and numbers, such as:
How are campaigns performing?
How many leads and opportunities are being generated?
How quickly is sales following up and with how many leads?
What is the conversion rate and value of those conversions?
At the same time, marketing and sales should come to the meeting understanding what topics and content are resonating with the target audience. They can use LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and LinkedIn Sales Solutions to find this out.
Use Analytics in Campaign Manager to Understand Performance
Campaign Manager is the tool marketers use to run and optimize ad campaigns on LinkedIn. Through this virtual command center, they can monitor campaign performance in real time, allowing them to bring the most up-to-date results to sales and marketing meetings.
Call Upon Sales Navigator Deals for Pipeline Management
The new Sales Navigator Deals feature provides better visibility into pipelines, so sales can better manage leads and opportunities. With this shared view of leads -- you can even get a complete picture of the full buying committee -- both marketing and sales can get down to the nitty-gritty about what’s happening with leads.
Take Advantage of Conversion Tracking in Campaign Manager
Using LinkedIn Conversion Tracking, marketing can easily measure the leads, sign-ups, content downloads, purchases, and other desired actions that can be attributed to their LinkedIn campaigns. At a glance, they can see advertising ROI, conversion count, cost-per-conversion, and return on ad spend, streamlining pre-meeting prep.
Use LinkedIn PointDrive for Post-Meeting Communications
Marketing and sales teams can use PointDrive to effectively share information after a meeting. Each team lead can contribute to a PointDrive containing all the assets and information discussed during the meeting. Sharing this centralized repository with all attendees ensures everyone is on the same page in terms of what was discussed.
Any organization dedicated to marketing and sales alignment is on the right track. The key to success is addressing both the strategy and the tactics for driving and maintaining alignment. By mastering the ins and outs of sales and marketing meetings and agendas, you set the stage for effective alignment and great results.
To get started making your own alignment visions reality, visit The Art of Winning hub and download our eBook.