Marketing and sales have always had an odd relationship, as they can both be synergistic and antagonistic – all at the same time. It’s not uncommon to hear marketers say that, when business is good, sales gets the credit, but when business is bad, all fingers point to marketing.
And if you ask a salesperson? They may tell you that marketing spends far too much time and energy driving “squishy” brand objectives that don’t directly make a difference to the organization’s bottom line.
It’s a constant back and forth between things like quality and quantity, marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads and brand marketing versus direct response. The conundrums are vast and, if left unchecked, they can create a dysfunctional relationship between two of your organization’s most important departments.
It should come as no surprise then, that many highly successful companies have mastered the art of bringing the marketing and sales functions together. In doing so, these strategic companies are able to drive initiatives forward with alignment and efficiency that directly contribute to better business results as a whole.
Here are four ways you can unlock your business’ full potential and maximize results by better aligning your sales and marketing teams:
1. Use the customer journey to identify the main business objectives for your sales and marketing teams.
The customer journey creates an overview of how customers move through your sales process. Rather than looking first at your priorities and outlining objectives for how to motivate customers to meet your goals, the customer journey allows you to consider the customer first, then identify your team’s objectives based on how your customers want to move through the process.
Consider the outcome or emotion you want your customer to experience at every touch point along the journey, then make sure your messaging and sales activities are aligned with the need state you’re trying to address. With the ability to conduct independent research online, many customers have traveled through part of the sales process before contacting a salesperson. So, consistency in your lead-nurturing efforts, especially in the early touch points, is critical in order to guide the customer’s preconceived notions about what they want and how much they’re willing to pay for it.
2. Know what you do well and outsource the rest to experts.
Every initiative demands resources, and that’s especially true when it comes to marketing. Take digital marketing, for example. In order to get the highest return on investment from a campaign, you would likely start with in-depth market research, then design and refine the campaign through several iterations, then A/B test with your target audience and pay close attention to your metrics to ensure you have the best finished product.
Long story short, any successful campaign initiative requires a lot of time and focus — two things a busy marketing manager and business owner do not usually have. So, rather than wasting those resources throwing digital spaghetti at the wall, your best bet is to let your internal marketing team focus on what they’re good at from a strategy perspective and leave the implementation to the niche experts who have the proper resources readily available.
3. Leverage the voices of others.
Sales have always been, and will always be, about relationships. Having communities of raving fans and customers who buy from you time and time again all stems from creating emotional connections and building trust.
One of the most effective ways to build those relationships quickly is to borrow the “know,” “like” and “trust” factors that your customers have already established with other people and organizations. For example, use public relations to drive earned media coverage in your customer’s favorite publications or leverage the carefully curated reputation of influencers who can provide trustworthy social proof. Or best of all, generate referrals among the customers you already have, and let them be your biggest cheerleaders in their communities.
4. Use your marketing team in your sales conversations.
Marketers can organically bring more stakeholders within an organization to the table, especially when sharing things like market research and customer intelligence. This is especially true in the business-to-business sector, where marketers can open doors that salespeople often cannot.
If your chief marketing officer is in town for a conference, for example, see if you can get them to spend some time with one of your key clients. This will help them gain real-life feedback, as opposed to being met with the resistance that so many salespeople have to overcome.
Marketers are focused on branding and lead generation, so they look at things with a longer-term view, whereas salespeople are focused on closing the sale and seeking immediate results. Ultimately, though, sales and marketing are on the same team, and when the two can come together to tackle objectives in an aligned way, your company can achieve better results, faster.
By Trever Ackerman