Bridging the great Sales and Marketing divide
Fire up your browser. Tap the words ‘Marketing and Sales Alignment’ into Google. Wait 0.10 seconds – and guess what – you’ll get a whopping 12 million search results. To misquote one beleaguered astronaut, “Houston, we have a problem.”
Marketing. Sales. It’s a love-hate relationship. Well, unfortunately, all too often we love to hate each other.
Hate may be too strong a word, but in most organisations there remains a perennial divide, relentless finger pointing and general distrust between the two functions.
So will Marketing and Sales always have a fractious relationship or is it possible to really get both teams working together as one finely honed machine?
Where did that lead go? What lead?
Marketing launches big new campaign. The leads start flooding in and then seemingly disappear into the ether. When cornered Sales say i) what campaign? ii) what leads? or iii) what a load of time-wasters. So how can you avoid your campaign slipping into endless animosity between all involved?
- Make sure your Head of Sales and other senior sales figures are bought into the campaign from the word go – even as early as when the campaign objectives, audiences and messaging are being set. That way potential issues can be ironed out well before the campaign is live.
- When building the campaign, work closely with Sales to define clear roles and responsibilities – particularly looking at what stage leads will be handed over and what should happen next. Think of it in terms of the audience journey: what is the experience you are trying to deliver for a target and how can you ensure it is seamless and engaging across every interaction (whether Marketing or Sales-led)? Importantly, how can you avoid a lead falling through the net?
- Give thought to how you could leverage a marketing automation platform to support lead scoring and qualification, so that opportunities are only handed over when they’re sales ready. That way, Sales don’t waste their time chasing poor quality leads. Targets don’t get hustled and hassled for simply downloading a white paper. Marketing improve their own efficiency and effectiveness – and get to see how they’re directly contributing to the bottom line.
- Before the campaign goes live, make every effort to promote it internally – ideally with visible sponsorship from someone in the higher echelons of the organisation. Clearly articulate what is expected of all parties – and specifically for Sales, how to follow up.
- Be clear on how you’re going to measure the campaign with Key Performance Indicators for both Marketing and Sales – and ideally some shared measures of success. Recognise that the success or failure of the campaign rests with both parties pulling their weight.
- Set expectations internally. You need to let them know that you’ve done your utmost to ensure the campaign will deliver the goods, but what’s most important will be to measure, learn and refine the approach to continuously improve the results moving forward.
It’s not about giving them what they want, but giving them what they need
Here’s an eye watering fact: 90% of Marketing deliverables are not used by Sales. So in short, the vast majority of those lovely brochures, datasheets and white papers are destined to sit in the dark recesses of the store cupboard gathering dust. Marketing finds itself wasting precious marketing budget, whilst Sales grumble that they’re not getting what they really need to sell your wares. So what can you do about it?
- Run a workshop with the key sales execs in your business to fully understand the tools they need to sell effectively.
- Give consideration to how you can support them at each stage in the sales cycle – from helping them best position offerings in the context of a prospects’ specific needs, giving them the content to build a compelling business case through to providing them with proof points, whether case studies or ROI calculators.
- Create a sales toolkit that’s fully in tune with their needs and where possible gives them the flexibility to tailor the contents to support specific opportunities (that is if they can be bothered – according to IDC, 57 percent of Sales people ‘are either NOT or only somewhat prepared for meetings with customers’).
- Don’t assume the answer has always got to be in print format – think about how you can leverage rich media assets to create more stimulating and engaging sales tools, for instance, try podcasts, videos or infographics.
- Respect their time and attention spans, keeping it concise. For instance, we found that a series of ‘8 minute expert sales guides’ on a range of products were far more likely to be read and used than an 80 page sales manual. In fact, every guide we produced resulted in a 20% uplift in sales for that product.
- Consider how Marketing can keep them informed and up-to-date through the provision of real market intelligence. For example, there are now a number of online platforms available that based on a number of keywords and semantic principles, can automate the process of delivering daily sales intelligence to your execs. From new market developments to changes in personnel in their key accounts, they get the insight they need delivered to their in-boxes – all courtesy of the fine folk in Marketing.
- Set in place clear measures to evaluate the effectiveness of different sales materials – both quantitative (e.g. number of page views and downloads from the Sales Portal to increase in sales and order value) and qualitative via regular surveys. If they’re still not using the tools they asked for, find out why.
Room for improvement?
So how’s your Marketing and Sales relationship faring? Time to offer an olive branch to the folk on the other side of the fence and get everyone working together for the good of your business?