Lead generation, as important as it is, is only a part of the bigger picture of business growth. To make the most out of every lead and maximize ROI at every sales lifecycle, a business needs its sales and marketing to work like two peas in a pod.
The idea that a B2B organization’s sales team and marketing team need to work like one department has been around for a long time, but the need to materialize it in the real world has grown exponentially only in recent years.
With the online shopping boom in the 21st century, fluctuating buyer behavior has brought about a significant transformation in how effective sales and marketing tactics are at separate stages of the sales funnel.
This shift in customer psychology warrants an alignment between a business’ factions more than ever before. Since a B2B company’s sales and marketing teams are the heart and soul that drive its journey to the top, it’s vital that they let go of traditional differences and work together as a modern coalition in cogent alliance towards a common goal.
Aligning Sales and Marketing: Why Do It?
If you study the most successful businesses of modern times, you’ll find a common theme – alignment.
A scalable and replicable revenue model is synonymous with sales and marketing alignment. For B2B companies with harmonious internal processes, their sales and marketing divisions work cohesively in tandem to get to every business’s ultimate goal: revenue.
And there is compelling data from reputed research portals to support this claim:
- Marketing Profs observed that companies with air-tight sales and marketing teams reported a 36% higher customer retention rate and 38% higher sales win rates.
- CSO Insights noted that organizations with flexible and adaptive sales and marketing processes reported an average 10% increase in retention and performance of salespeople on quota.
- Forrester Research found that companies with alignment reported an average 32% increase in annual revenue growth while companies with misalignment reported an average 7% decrease in the same.
- Sirius Decisions discovered that B2B businesses that fostered a high alliance between their sales and marketing teams reported a 24% increase in growth and a 27% rise in profit over three years.
Hard facts, not soft opinion.
Despite these figures and years of research, aligning a B2B business’ sales and marketing towards a common goal is far from being a piece of cake. If it was, everybody would be eating it. But the good news is that the sheer awareness of it has brought about a silent revolution of sorts – a thought change that marketing and sales practices of yesteryears just can’t cut it anymore.
The biggest fuel to ignite this mindset has come from sales. Having observed buyer behavior undergo a tremendous shift on-ground, it has realized that marketing now has an even bigger role to play in the buying process.
The top third of the orthodox sales process has vanished in this day and age.
What was traditionally the beginning of a sales cycle has evaporated into thin air, and buyers today would rather self-service what they want than ask salespeople to do it for them.
In short, the old-age overemphasis on sales processes has eroded away.
Now more than ever, sales needs marketing to help them. And marketing needs sales to “help me help you”. The only ultimate answer to this call is mutual alignment.
Aligning Sales And Marketing: Best Practices
Without further ado, let’s dive in straight into some of the best sales and marketing (or smarketing) tips to align them like two bodies one soul:
1. See Each Other Often
The best relationships are forged not just by writing a text or talking over call, but by meeting in person. Staying connected both offline and online is one of the first ways to get your sales and marketing team to mingle well with each other.
a) Onboard every new person together
To get sales and marketing to work as one, it’s imperative to share processes, resources, and practices from the get-go. It’s good practice to get to know every new (or old) person in the company, share personal experiences and aspirations, and understand the ins and outs of how the two teams can support each other.
If there’s been a lot of expansion in the department lately, hold a weekly or monthly meeting to set expectations through older employees or answer questions of fresh joinees.
b) Attend every main sales or marketing meeting
Instead of sticking to meetings from your own department, create a culture of freedom for salespeople to attend marketing meetings or marketers to attend sales meetings without anyone batting an eye.
Attending weekly sales meets can let marketers be in on the sales targets and offer support whenever required.
These cross-meetings can be great platforms for exchanging info about the upcoming campaigns so marketing can be priorly oriented to the kind of content to craft or offer to promote.
It can also serve as a no-pressure brainstorming session for any future offers or marketing content.
c) Conduct monthly meets with sales managers
If the top tier of both divisions is aligned, the notion will trickle down to every nook. Marketing and sales managers should have a separate “big boys” or “big girls” monthly meeting to analyze progress and evaluate it against SLAs.
This is an opportunity to have a healthy back and forth of new ideas and important metrics such as frequency of quality lead generations, efficiency of leads worked on and leads converted, or recurring challenges being faced and how to tackle them better.
d) Go to events together
Indulging in a public persona of a power couple can be equally as strengthening as building professional intimacy behind four walls.
Whether it’s going to formal conference invitations, informal meetup groups, or casual happy hours – spending time together in a non-office setting is simply great for getting to know the other side outside of the traditional workspace.
2. Go By A Common Pen Name
Here’s something simple and subtle but super powerful – agreeing upon a common alias that functions as an umbrella term to address both Sales and Marketing at the same team – something like ‘Smarketing’, or ‘S&M’, or ‘The Alliance’, for example.
This is an empowering strategy to bring the two departments closer together both on paper and in the eyes of the rest of the company. It also makes it more convenient for external teams to share relevant info with both groups at the same time.
3. Put Down A Consistent Content Creation Process
Sales reps are always interacting with potential B2B clients so they’re the best people to go for to get customer insights – what they need, what they want, what they dream.
The issue is that the volume of such interactions is usually so high that salespeople often can’t find the time to write down all the feedback. That is why it can be hugely beneficial for everyone involved to put together a process to ensure all that valuable input is not simply lost to memory.
a) A separate brainstorming slot in meetings
Placing a defined five-minute, fifteen-minute, or hour-long slot for brainstorming on weekly or monthly meetings can get the brain juice flowing, offering fresh perspectives and new insights.
A regular discussion on what content to ideate based on what’s working and what isn’t can help the teams navigate and recalibrate their written and verbal communication while talking to prospects to attract more leads.
b) A shared Google document for collating ideas and references
A suite of shared Google documents like Google Docs for collecting implementation ideas and future strategies from marketing, or Google Spreadsheets for organizing prospect details and extra information from sales can make relevant info accessible to both parties a simple click away.
c) Record with consent
Recording the pertinent points as you go while talking to clients or condensing main details out of memory can be a hefty job to do for salespeople. The human brain has finite short term memory and things often tend to be lost in translation, defeating the idea behind the activity than building it up.
A great way to avoid human error would be to politely ask the leads or clients if they can record the call with their permission.
Tie all the loose ends that make them feel comfortable and the call confidential, so you can directly refer to what was said on the source instead of having to conjecture.
4. Coordinate Your Campaigns
With marketers constantly promoting fresh offers and building new content, the sales team can quickly go out of sync with what’s going on in that department. It’s important to put fluid processes in place to keep sales up-to-speed with all promos and offers so they are always in the know of what their leads are getting.
a) List all promotions on a shared calendar
Building up on our shared Google files point, Google Calendar is a god-send for having all the important promotion details like time, date, audience, and topic all in one place.
Marketers can share descriptions and talking points of important events such as a webinar, social media campaign, or mass mails to sales so they can always be in the loop.
There can be a designated person appointed to ensure that every member of the sales team has the calendar and that they can easily access it on their personal accounts.
b) Compile it all and email it
Google Calendar is great for fast cursory accessibility, but nothing beats an email if you want to be comprehensive. Once your offer has been promoted and the leads start coming in, be sure to compile and send over the following details over to the sales team:
Talking points: These include the core two or three benefits of the offer in bullets. A good way to do this is to imagine that the salesperson doesn’t know anything about the offer. What are the main things they have to know? How can they sell these points better? Be sure to include any solid stats, use cases, or how-tos, if any.
Lead list: Marketers must include the list of leads the offer is generating so sales can form an action plan beforehand. If your B2B organization already has a CRM setup, generating and sharing views with sales is a breeze.
Weekly quote: A general quote every week that gives sales a fresh talking point can help them keep the conversation up-to-date. It’s gold if the quotes are also backed by verifiable data and are relevant to the current trend.
c) Create follow-up templates
Offers and promotions are great for hitting two birds with one stone: generating new leads as well as re-engaging old leads.
You can make the job easier for your sales rep by creating email templates that help them have a ready reference point for starting a conversation and keep it going. Be as specific as you can be with these templates without beating too much around the bush, clarifying how the company can uniquely help solve a prospect’s problem.
5. Take Aim Together
For the longest time, it’s the norm for sales and marketing to have separate KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), and thus, different targets and goals. Whereas sales may be focused on increasing monthly revenue, marketing is focused on driving website traffic.
This is only understandable – sales and marketing serve inherently different purposes, but the end-goal is often the same for both.
All good strategies to align sales and marketing towards a common goal prioritize shared goals too. Bridging two paths to the same destination, marketers and salespeople can sit down and discuss shared KPIs – such as conversion rate and lead value – that both divisions can work together to track and improve. Once they identify what common KPIs to work mutually towards, they can be met with twice the force.
So, here were some of the key points to help your sales and marketing teams go from foes to friends. We hope you make the most of it. Happy aligning!