When sales and marketing successfully align, great things happen. Aligned organizations experience 32% more annual revenue, 36% higher customer retention rates, and 38% higher sales win rates. These companies also grow 24% faster and earn 27% more profit over a three year period when compared to organizations where sales and marketing aren’t so closely aligned.
It’s safe to say: the numbers speak for themselves. Breaking down silos and encouraging communication across two key departments not only makes sense logically, but it’s also a financially sensible move for every business.
Despite the obvious benefits, some managers are still searching for answers as to how to actually go about aligning these two departments. While it’s no easy task, there are some simple steps you can take to bridge the gap and create a cohesive working environment across sales and marketing.
1. Infuse Sales-Marketing Alignment Into New Hire Training Protocols
We’ve all heard the expression ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ and while that might be an extreme example, it’s definitely fair to say that adjusting styles of working and implementing new process for the ‘old dog’ employees will be far more challenging than starting with your new hire ‘puppies’.
The first step you can take to bridge the sales-marketing divide is training your new hires within the departments to work together and follow the new alignment processes from the get-go. Managers will experience less resistance if sales and marketing alignment is part of the status quo, but it’s imperative that management works together to lay the proper groundwork to support the new hires – you can’t expect them to come in and change the organization’s behavior all on their own. Have training protocols approved ahead of time, and teach alignment from day one if you hope to join the growing list of world-class business organizations.
Ensure that management teams together to lay the proper groundwork to support your new hires.
2. Schedule Regular Meetings
Regular meetings with both departments provide an excellent opportunity for sales and marketing personnel to get to know one another, establish expectations, discuss quotas and goals, campaigns and content, field questions, and settle any issues plaguing either or both departments.
During these meetings management have to show enthusiasm for the integration, if there’s any sense of resistance from the top, this attitude is sure to trickle down throughout the teams. Use these meetings to share information and updates so that the entire team is on the same page moving forward. Encouraging teamwork will always leave your employees with a strong sense of morale as the day goes on.
3. Hold Manager-Only Meetings
Integration has to start from the top-down, making it critical for department heads to lead the way with their own monthly manager meetings. This time can be used to address the challenges facing each manager as the departments move toward alignment, identifying areas for support. Managers should also use the time to address the practical business elements of integration: evaluate SLAs, share important metrics, discuss lead generation, conversion rates as well as areas for improvement.
Having leadership on the same page as far as expectations go will make a world of difference as it trickles down to the bottom. Remember that poor communication never gets any leader far, it’s better to over communicate than to under communicate.
4. Build Rapport
The best way to get two teams working together is to allow some time for the individuals in each team to get to know each other. This can happen inside or outside of the office, however, schedule in mandatory bonding time to improve overall team comradery. To help both marketing and sales become more acquainted, consider attending or even hosting events with both salespeople and marketing personnel, such as trade shows or conferences, or hold monthly meetings that include both of these departments.
You’ll quickly find that colleagues who actually know each other and have some form of a relationship are far more motivated to interact with one another. Any forum that allows for a conversation between team members is sure to result in improvements on both ends and allow these teams to work together towards a common goal.
5. Create a Feedback Loop
As with any element of business, feedback is essential. Creating an environment that encourages feedback within and across departments affords managers the opportunity to course correct and quickly identify pain points that threaten alignments. Sales should be discussing common objections they hear in the field, and marketing should be discussing the type of content to create for the various stages of the buyer’s journey. Feedback can be shared during meetings and with the use of software so that both departments are always up-to-date with the latest wins and challenges for improved results moving forward.
Simply providing the opportunity to give feedback isn’t enough – managers must act on the feedback. Now that department heads already have regular meetings on the books, reviewing feedback and agreeing how to address it should become part of the agenda.
6. Announce All Marketing Campaigns
Imagine walking into a sales pitch – you’re prepared with all of your materials, you know the prospect like the back of your hand and you’re ready to close – when you’re completely blindsided by the client asking about a new ad they saw in this month’s industry magazine, or a Facebook post promoting a new offer. Checking the company’s social media profiles probably isn’t on a sales reps list when preparing for a pitch, but being informed can make a huge difference to the meeting.
Marketing departments must ensure they are regularly communicating current marketing campaigns – sales should never have to guess what promotions are currently in play. While it is true that marketing will be continuously promoting new offers and content, the sales department should always be cognizant of these offerings so that they can disseminate the most up-to-date resources to close the most deals.
7. Celebrate Major Successes!
A little bit of positive reinforcement can go a long way; it could even motivate your marketing and sales personnel to continue working towards aligning without management having to spur them on. When deals are won as a direct result of marketing and sales playing nice, bring it up at the next meeting. Make a big announcement, and hand out certificates or awards if possible; anything to show marketing and sales that alignment is the order of the day and necessary for achieving significant milestones.
8. Coordinate Lead Definitions
If there is one rift that is consistent between marketing and sales regardless of industry, it’s the debate over the quality of leads. Managers can eliminate this discord by ensuring both departments are identifying and focusing on the same types of leads. Coming up with a series of lead definitions that remove all the guesswork can help to simplify things and should eliminate confusion.
9. Standardize Metrics and Goals
It’s beneficial for everyone involved when all metrics are discussed and defined, and all goals evaluated and altered if necessary. Once both departments know that they are talking about and striving for similar outcomes, aligning marketing and sales will become a streamlined affair, which is always great for business.
10. Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Finally, realize that sales and marketing aligning doesn’t have to be hard work or a grueling process. Make the progression enjoyable by creating contests and games, and by making meetings lighthearted and carefree. These don’t need to be long drawn out activities — 5 minutes is enough time to regroup both of these departments. Here is where management can lead by example. If the managers are having fun, they’re likely to see more commitment and engagement from both sides of the organization.
Ryan Gould, an expert search, social and content marketer is Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services for Elevation Marketing. He leads Elevation Marketing’s digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement, and conversion. Ryan is a respected expert achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives, and innovative problem-solving.
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