6 Ways to Bridge the Gap Between Sales and Marketing | YouDigital Blog
How can sales and marketing work together
Although both teams share the same goal – help a business grow – very often they don’t get along, at times reminding of two rivals finger-pointing at each other for not doing things right.
The reasons for poor alignment
But where does this disagreement come from? According to a survey by Demand Gen Report, the biggest challenges to sales and marketing alignment are communication, broken processes, and metrics difference.
These findings are further supported by another survey that shows “51% of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between the teams and 53% of sales professionals are not pleased with marketing’s support.” So, if communication breakdown is the main problem that prevents sales and marketing from working in unison. What is it that the two sides have to say to each other?
The Demand Gen Report discloses the following grievances that sales and marketing have for each other:
Now that we’re aware of the main grudges, the next question is – what prevents sales and marketing teams from working together to resolve their miscommunication problems and start working like a well-oiled machine? The answer turns out to be surprisingly simple.
The new research by the Content Marketing Institute and LinkedIn states that the main problem lies in two departments simply not meeting often enough, not discussing their plans, not sharing their results. The research further demonstrates the frequency of content marketing and sales collaboration on related activities among teams with high and low sales-marketing alignment.
The key takeaway here is that only 25% of all respondents with low alignment said they worked together (discussed) how to use the content, and a mere 19% discussed when to use the content. And these are by far the two most important areas that ensure the effectiveness of using marketing content in sales. If salespeople don’t know what to do with all the content, what’s the point in making it?
The benefits of sales-marketing alignment
So why should the two teams work together? The simple answer is – it brings revenue. The success of any business is traditionally measured by a set of metrics. Harvard Business Review points out that if sales and marketing teams work together their key business metrics improve: sales cycles become shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales decreases.
Further expanding on the benefits of sales-marketing collaboration is Sirius Decisions points to the following improvements:
A LinkedIn report claims that “58% of sales and marketing professionals reporting that collaboration delivers improved customer retention, and 54% noting its positive contribution to financial performance,” and “58% [of organizations with highly aligned teams] experience improved efficiency and 52% enjoy enhanced productivity”.
According to the research by the Aberdeen Group, “companies that optimize the sales and marketing relationship grow revenue 32% faster,” as well as show improvement in the following areas:
Finally, businesses with unified sales and marketing teams enjoy 38% higher sales win rates, 36% higher customer retention rates, and generate 208% more revenue from marketing, claims MarketingProfs.
All this only proves that companies need to rethink entirely how their sales and marketing teams work and whether it makes any sense at all to continue keeping them in silos. And even though sales and marketing tend to disagree on how to deal with potential customers and grow business, it’s not a dead end. As M. Gandhi once said:
“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress”
6 ways to make sales and marketing work together
There are several ways how you can help your marketing and sales teams get along better and even become buddies.
1. Work on creating relevant content together
To start, let’s recap the key premise: the content that marketers create helps salespeople advance a potential buyer down the sales pipeline faster. While the marketing team creates content based on their analysis of the market and industry trends, promotion strategies, and target group segmentation, those are the salespeople who actually get to work directly with the potential customers and use the content in their sales proposals.
That’s why sales can really help out by sharing valuable “real-life” insights with the marketing team as to what content works best and at what stage. Why? Because they know what questions prospects ask or what concerns they have at each stage of a sale. This makes relevant content creation much easier and eliminates “the guessing game” of what content a target group wants to consume. In other words: “If a customer wants to know about A, don’t feed them information about B.”
2. Analyze the customer journey and agree on the buying cycle
Stepping into your customer's shoes and walking the walk with them is the ultimate winning strategy for any business. This is where performing a comprehensive customer journey analysis and defining the buying cycle helps. What’s the point of creating tons of content, distributing it on random communication channels, and then praying some of it will work? By getting together and looking closely at the stages that the customers go through, channels that they use, questions that they pose, etc., sales and marketing can help each other tremendously and create a single, all-inclusive customer experience model.
3. Communicate regularly and use customer feedback
As cliché as it may sound, but there’s nothing better than communication. And the more of it – the better. Sales and marketing will align much smoother if they hold regular meetings to discuss their visions and strategies. According to the research, 73% of highly aligned teams meet DAILY or WEEKLY as compared to 25% of the low-aligned teams. It’s also important to analyze the results of a month, quarter, or year together. Not only is it very educational to hear how numbers are perceived by both teams, but it is also a great bonding exercise, helping the teams decide on what works and what doesn’t.
Another thing that goes a long way, is listening to customers’ feedback. It allows both teams to see how things are evolving in real-time and increases accountability. Once again, salespeople are a perfect asset here, because, during sales calls, meetings, or presentations, they get a great chance to listen to customer’s pain points, concerns, and wishes. This information can be then used to refine or improve your marketing strategy.
4. Develop buyer personas together
Defining buyer personas is very important. Being able to describe who your ideal customers are, what they do, what choices they make, what challenges they face, and how they make decisions – gives both marketing and sales teams a competitive advantage. Put simply – if you know whom you’re dealing with, then you know what to do. Yet, the tricky part here is agreeing on who your ideal customer is. If for sales – it maybe anyone with money and the ability to purchase, for marketers – it could be a more narrowly segmented, multi-dimensional individual.
If the two teams sit down to pick each other’s brains and combine their practical and theoretical knowledge, it will become easier to define more realistic needs of potential customers and, as a result, offer the right products at the right time and to the right people.
5. Set common KPIs and sync up measurement criteria
The differences in measuring achievements are serious obstacles for sales-marketing alignment. While sales may focus on the numbers: new accounts, deals closed, upsells, etc., marketing may put more emphasis on the quality of leads, brand awareness ratio, and lead funnel progression.
For sales and marketing to feel that they are working towards the same goals, they need to share something tangible – like KPIs. The importance of using the same key metrics of success measuring is proved by the research that stipulates that highly-aligned teams share a set of common KPIs that prioritize revenue and pipeline growth.
Adopting joint KPIs, driven by the “revenue first” mindset, is a great way to sync the efforts of the two teams.
6. Speak with one voice
A successful business always comes across as a united, wholesome organization where everyone speaks with one voice. If a customer hears one message in the ad or a social media post and then receives completely different information presented in a different style and tone from a salesperson – it becomes super confusing, to say the least. Such trivial things as inconsistent naming of products, different terminology, conflicting tone of voice, etc. are detrimental to the entire company’s reputation. If sales and marketing don’t work together, they may, inadvertently, create an image of a confused brand. And who wants to buy anything from a disorganized business?
That’s why sales and marketing should sing in chorus, i.e. share and convey the same culture and send consistent and matched messages.
Finding the best alignment tool
One of the best ways for bringing the sales and marketing teams together is by giving them the same working tools. A CRM system is arguably one of the best fits here, as it unites all documents, activities, and contact information in one, centralized, easily-accessible place. CRM allows salespeople and marketers to access the common database, share their interactions, see each other’s progress, offer seamless customer service – all in the same system, and most importantly – it gives both of them a common goal.
Not surprisingly, 71% of organizations with highly aligned sales and marketing teams name the CRM software as their top digital technology.
It’s all about the good-old teamwork
Sales are not from Mars and Marketing is not from Venus. They are the sides of the same coin called “business success”. The two need each other. And even though they work differently, both can bring a lot to the table. If salespeople’s frontline experience and marketing’s strategic knowledge are put together, customers can enjoy a truly seamless experience, where everything flows with no distinct lines.
While marketers know how to create versatile and engaging content for each stage of the buying process, sales can use the content strategically and modify it depending on the individual circumstances and preferences of a particular customer. And that’s the true meaning of a customer-centric business model!
In the end, it all boils down to working as a TEAM – where Together Everyone Achieves More.