sales operations

6 Strategies for Sales and Marketing Alignment

Like oil and water, sales and marketing teams don’t always “mix” the way they’re supposed to. This is a sad truth, given that these two teams should support a singular goal: growing revenue.

The benefits of sales and marketing alignment are compelling. Together, these teams have the potential to reduce the sales cycle, meet the needs of high value customers across their buyer’s journey, and directly link ROI to marketing initiatives.

Underscoring the importance of a blended marketing and sales skill set, Forrester Research says the most successful salespeople will become hybrid marketers. The need for B2B salespeople will continue to demand a more “consultative seller”.

So how can sales and marketing work more effectively together?

Based on our experience addressing these opportunities for clients, here are 6 strategies for achieving sales and marketing alignment with an attitude adjustment.

Get curious, not furious.

While “furious” might not be completely true, a conscious shift in mindset allows teams to see and respect the strengths from their counterparts. Marketing should respect the listening, probing, and ‘voice of the customer’ sellers bring. Sales values the creativity and discipline marketers offer to pull qualified leads.

We’ve appreciated the mantra “Get Curious, Not Furious”, as it quickly creates an attitude adjustment before interactions toward “what can I learn?” and “how can we work together?”

Foster a regular cadence of communications/interactions between teams.

We regularly talk about a management cadence. Why do we so often ignore marketing in that rhythm? Being intentional with regular touch-points leads to more collaboration, ideation, and less surprises.

Marketing should have representation in sales team meetings. Marketing and sales managers should plan standing monthly meetings. These leaders should identify common metrics that can be useful tools.

For sales teams and leaders focused on new logo acquisition, this level of integration and cooperation is critical. Marketing should collaborate, not conflict, with sales to ensure a unified strategy to target the right customers.

Establish an integrated view of customers and sales/marketing activities.

Sales and marketing should seek a comprehensive and common view of the customer and sales/marketing activities. This means using classic observation and listening skills, as well as enabling technologies.

The right enabling technologies, such as well-integrated marketing automation and CRM solutions, can be a unifying force between marketing and sales. The ultimate goals are to:

  • Enable a single contact record for prospects and customers exposing all marketing and sales engagements
  • Capture all marketing initiatives and campaigns and customer engagements in one place
  • Create a closed-loop revenue attribution system that allows marketers to optimize programs based on performance

Leverage Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Sales Development resources.

This common customer view we describe in the third strategy above applies at the account level too.

Account-Based Marketing strategies can be one of the most efficient ways to align sales and marketing. They focus both teams on highest value target accounts, their contacts, and how to best engage.

A Sales Development team can help proactively research accounts, create buyer-centric messaging, and execute one-to-one outreach.

If you don’t already have a Sales Development team, SDRs can report up through your sales or marketing organization. SDRs can be aligned to Account Executives and participate in account planning, QBRs, and goals.

Align marketing/sales process to your buyer’s journey.

At the risk of sounding trite, let the customer’s buying process be the aligning force between sales and marketing processes. By doing this, both teams turn their lens onto the buyer and together investigate customer challenges, motivations, and product/solution needs.

With a buyer-centric sales process, lines between marketing and sales in the sales funnel begin to blur. Teams drive more clarity around the buyer personas. They also earn clarity on content, supporting collateral and tools, and stage-specific selling skills.

Make content marketing a collaborative process between sales and marketing. According to CEB, B2B buyers don’t contact potential vendors until 57% of the purchase process is complete. This is one of many factors that fueled the growth of content marketing. Marketers should vet blog topics, content offers, and customer stories with sales. This helps align with and support the buyer’s journey and selling objectives.

Consider a central content calendar that the sales team contributes to. Identify content opportunities to not only drive inbound leads, but also support other stages of the sales process.

To quote Andrew Carnegie, "Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

This rings true with sellers and marketers. We hope the above strategies help your sales and marketing teams spend more time proactively evaluating market opportunities. Contact us to learn more about aligning sales and marketing teams.

About The Author

Author photo Masami combines the market focus and execution of a Marketing VP with the critical, data-driven orientation of a seasoned strategist. Masami is passionate about the integration of sales and marketing and helps organizations take a disciplined approach to defining sales and marketing process and enabling technologies. Over the last 25 years, Masami has served as a strategy consultant and marketing leader across Fortune 500 to start-up environments.

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