How to Build a Sales and Marketing Powerhouse
Here are practical steps sales leaders can take to help sales and marketing achieve true alignment.
May 2, 2017
Closing the gap between sales and marketing has long been the goal for many organizations. But that alignment is more critical than ever as the two groups must work closely together to accompany B2B buyers down the path to purchase. Here are four steps sales leaders can take to proactively build a sales and marketing powerhouse that works in tandem to achieve great results.
1. Rally Around a Common Understanding
Marketing and sales can’t row in the same direction if they don’t know where they’re headed or how they’re supposed to get there. The first step is establishing a clear understanding of your audience segments, overall goals, rules of engagement, expectations, and processes. At a minimum, marketing and sales should hash out answers to the following:
· What is an ideal customer?
· What is a qualified lead and what is the process for qualifying one?
· How can we prioritize lead quality over lead quantity?
· What is marketing’s role versus sales’ role?
· At what point should marketing hand leads over to sales and how?
· How will we track lead status and progress?
· What happens when sales disagrees with a lead qualification?
· How will marketing and sales be held accountable for their responsibilities?
2. Pinpoint the Most Pressing Gaps
To plan for better alignment, you need to understand where things stand today. A useful step is analyzing marketing and sales performance to identify areas for improvement. This can help isolate key sales and marketing processes to address, such as:
· What steps should we add, delete, or improve?
· Has our organization defined the ideal way to sell and market our solutions?
· Do we have a proven, repeatable process for generating leads and converting them into orders and repeat orders?
Also review your current sales and marketing strategy to identify tactical changes you could make around:
· Which markets and customer profiles to target
· Messaging and value propositions
· Demand generation
· Social selling
Don’t forget to look beyond your four walls. By surveying your customers about their experience during the purchase process, you might identify opportunities for improvements. Perhaps they’ll tell you (in so many words) they would appreciate your company engaging them with more relevance, better timed marketing and sales outreach, or with more helpful guidance throughout the buying process. Whatever their feedback, take it to heart and figure out how to take action on it.
Once you’ve identified the key shortcomings in the sales and marketing partnership, set goals for what you’d like to see as the result of better alignment. For example, perhaps today you focus on your solutions and sales process. But a smart future goal would be to focus on market needs and how to ensure a best-in-class buying experience.
3. Focus on the Customer Experience
The customer experience is moving to the top of the priority stack at more organizations. Rallying around the same strategic goal of delivering an outstanding experience throughout the buying cycle can serve as a North Star to guide marketing and sales alignment. As you consider changes to processes, ask whether or not these will benefit buyers and existing customers.
Getting more tactical, make sure your marketing team guides sales on which leads to contact, when to contact them, and what content is most relevant for engaging them. Work out how marketing will clue the sales team in on all interactions between marketing and prospects, and keep the sales team up to speed on changing buyer intelligence. At the same time, make sure the marketing team fully understands the social selling process.
4. Communicate Regularly
Alignment is not a once-and-done exercise. To keep sales and marketing headed in the same direction, host regularly scheduled sales and marketing meetings to discuss high-level strategies and granular tactics. Have your top sales reps meet with the marketing team to share their experiences and provide input regarding new content and messaging. And encourage the marketing and sales teams to socialize in more informal settings. The more they get to know each other personally, the more likely they will see each other as teammates working toward a common goal.
When sales and marketing truly become partners, the result is a collaborative effort to find leads, engage prospects, close deals, and grow customer relationships. You can help your organization achieve better collaboration by taking the lead on alignment.
Download our eBook, Solving Sales and Marketing Alignment, for more best practices and guidance.