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Historically, the role of marketing has been to bring in sales leads for new business. This handoff from marketing -- which captures leads, nurtures them and qualifies them as someone who is considered "sales ready" -- to sales is something that many organizations follow as their standard operating procedures. These activities are generally done within silos, with little communication or follow-up between teams.
But to be truly efficient, there needs to be sales and marketing alignment -- aka smarketing -- within companies, with frequent and direct communication between the departments throughout the entire customer journey.
Though many businesses are aware of sales and marketing alignment practices, not all have put them into practice, and businesses can no longer ignore the misalignment between these teams.
The importance of sales and marketing alignment
Buyers have changed over time, and they are in more control than ever. They are digitally driven, more socially connected, on the move with their mobile devices and empowered to research solutions to their problems.
Potential customers are not waiting for a sales representative to call them with a magic solution to their problems. Instead, they are out researching and coming across content that marketing teams create and promote. While this sounds like a marketing-centric way to drive sales, this approach also enables sales to provide the context for what types of campaign ideas -- such as blogs, white papers, infographics or webinar series -- marketing can create, based on common themes that come up in their conversations with prospects.
Sales is still at the front line between the organization and its prospects. They are prospecting, having one-on-one conversations, and have direct feedback to the pain points, barriers and decision-making habits of their customers. This information can be invaluable to a marketing team deciding how to target campaigns to specific audiences and address prospect needs instead of just selling to them.
Aligning sales and marketing strategies can also have a direct impact on business growth, where there is a reduction in costs and an increase in revenue.
Collaboration between sales and marketing teams has other ancillary benefits as well. As sales and marketing teams work together, get to know one another and share common goals, this growth will breed more activity and investment in the company. It will also be an opportunity for other departments to have a better idea of just what it is these teams do and mean to the company as a whole.
While sales and marketing departments may be moving away from working in silos, it may not be logistically possible to merge into one team within businesses. But there are still strategies that businesses should heed for the two department to function more harmoniously.
Necessary components for sales and marketing alignment
Open lines of communication. Marketing and sales should meet regularly as individual teams, with representatives attending the respective sales and marketing team meetings. This gives the marketing team a better idea of the goals that sales is trying to hit and gives sales some insight into the campaigns, strategies and tactics that marketing is doing to get qualified candidates.
Share marketing campaign efforts with sales. Marketing should provide sales with weekly or monthly updates on upcoming campaigns, offers and content that it will use in promotional strategies. Sales can then use that information to reach out to prospects in their pipeline and share some value as a respected thought leader and partner. Businesses might also consider putting a content creation process in place, where the sales team can submit relevant topics they have discussed with prospects and marketing can create specific content to address those needs.
Provide sales enablement resources. The one question that prospects always ask on a sales call is, "Can you please send me some of your literature?" By organizing all sales enablement content, sales representatives can quickly access what a prospect is asking for. This content includes:
- battlecards -- an overview of a business's products, market and competition;
- premium content resources -- white papers, infographics, data sheets and research reports; and
- relevant offers -- case studies, upcoming webinar information, and event registration and information.
Brand sales team members. Good sales representatives know how to build their own brands. Since prospects often view sales teams as thought leaders, businesses might consider having their marketing content teams ghost write some blogs for sales. This will help establish more credibility and authority between sales representatives and their prospects. Marketing can also create some sample copy or ideas for social media posts that the sales team can publish to their accounts as a way to create more activity on those channels.