Why It’s Important for New Companies to Align Sales and Marketing Efforts
Are Sales and Marketing two totally separate departments, or are they just two sides of the same coin? Regardless of where you stand on this debate, both departments’ efforts should be aligned. That’s because, while the day-to-day objectives may differ, both share the overarching goal of acquiring buyers to increase revenue. As the old adage goes, teamwork does in fact make the dream work. Companies with unified sales and marketing efforts reported a 67% increase in conversion rates, as marketing leads helped the sales team generate 209% more revenue.
Why the Need for Alignment?
Unfortunately for traditional sales and marketing companies, sales journey disruptions changed how buyers and sellers interact. Before, a buyer would learn about a product and then contact a salesperson for additional information. But, today’s buyers prefer researching on their own.
Armed with a smart device, they take the initiative to visit the company website, look at customer testimonials, scan product reviews and scroll social media pages. Only when the buyer decides to make a purchase will they contact a salesperson. Other buyers might hear about the product for the first time through a social media mention or a product demonstration video on YouTube. This would then warrant a different journey as the buyer will now seek more information from a different starting point. Meanwhile, other prospects might chance upon a product when browsing articles about something related to the brand.
These disruptions in the once-linear sales journey mean you have to deploy several approaches when dealing with product inquiries. At this point, Marketing needs to make sure that Sales has the information needed to effectively communicate with buyers at various touch points. To do so, the two groups must align with one another. This doesn’t just mean aligning goals and objectives. It also means agreeing on common terms, processes, systems and tools.
Defining Sales and Marketing
Of course, aligning a small company’s Marketing and Sales departments is easy since you’re only dealing with a handful of people. However, this process becomes much more complicated for larger enterprises or those looking to scale. Before we look into the different ways of aligning Sales and Marketing, let’s distinguish the two first.
The Sales department is the group in charge of bringing money into the company. They do so by successfully selling the company’s products or services. Specifically, Sales’ main objective is to drive revenue. Their responsibilities also include managing existing customers, acquiring new ones and ensuring they all stay loyal to the brand.
Marketing tasks itself to educate, inform and excite buyers. In the process, it helps nurture leads, engage prospects and shake the market. Marketing should also work to keep the brand relevant to existing customers and interesting to prospective ones. To do so, it needs to establish the brand and distinguish its products from those of competitors. Marketing should also ensure that product and brand information is readily available to customers at every point of the buyer’s journey.
How Sales and Marketing Support Each Other
Marketing takes an in-depth look at customer behavior as well as competitor practices. The team will develop data-informed strategies to support the brand’s products, prices and promotions. Meanwhile, tactics like brand campaigns, advertising and promotions all help increase the brand’s visibility. These make it easier for Sales to engage with existing customers and introduce themselves to new ones.
Meanwhile, Sales provides feedback on the leads gathered by Marketing. Marketing uses this data to determine if the brand adequately positioned itself in a way to generate quality leads. Did the marketing strategies resonate with the intended audience? What about them getting prospects in the door? How can you capitalize on that to do it all over again in a new and exciting way?
Furthermore, the Sales team is also a significant source of customer feedback. As such, Marketing can develop programs to address recurring issues like dropped sales, product quality issues, customer service sentiment, etc. The bottom line is that Sales and Marketing have a very interconnected, give-and-take relationship.
The Benefits of Sales and Marketing Alignment
Before we discuss the benefits of properly aligning Sales and Marketing, let’s discuss what can happen when these two departments fail to do so.
The Possibility of Misalignment
Ideally, the two departments should complement each other as they work toward their common goal. During the course of their work, however, each team may fall into prioritizing their own strategies with little regard for the other. Rather than sharing data and complementing each other’s strengths, they isolate themselves and their information.
Soon, Sales starts complaining that Marketing yielded low-quality leads. Meanwhile, Marketing begins blaming Sales for not doing more to convert. Left unchecked, this misalignment can escalate into animosity. Either both parties start ignoring each other, or they engage in an endless round of one-upmanship. In both cases, the customer ends up being the casualty.
The Potential for Alignment
Even excluding all of the benefits, simply avoiding the friction of a derailed Sales and Marketing dynamic is a win in itself. Still, there are plenty of benefits that make aligning marketing and sales a very productive business decision. Among them are the following:
Enhanced Customer Experience
Rather than becoming a casualty, the customer stands to win big-time from an aligned sales and marketing approach. With Marketing creating advertising campaigns and promotional programs geared towards the target audience, Sales is now better equipped to engage prospects and manage customers. Ultimately, a better customer experience will yield happier, more satisfied customers—and more sales, as a result.
Aligned Goals Mean Integrated Workflows and Shared Information
Instead of operating via different systems and processes, an aligned Sales and Marketing team can more efficiently share resources. When the two departments are using the same tools and software, data can more seamlessly flow between them.
By aligning themselves from the jump, both Marketing and Sales become more open to conducting alignment meetings, jointly monitoring targets and regularly exchanging feedback. Keeping open communication ensures everyone stays on the page and has a healthy work environment to thrive in. Alignment also helps set defined roles and responsibilities within the two groups, which helps reduce or eliminate duplicate or overlapping functions. Eliminating these inefficiencies allows your teams to better direct their focus and resources.
Ultimately, aligning Sales and Marketing translates to better success for the entire company. According to InsideView’s 2018 The State of Marketing and Sales Alignment, the benefits of a unified sales and marketing approach can result in:
- 36% growth in business
- 36% increase in customer retention
- 27% faster profit growth
- 38% more sales win rates
- 10% more sales agents hitting their targets
How to Align Sales and Marketing
Independently, both marketing and sales activities can drive revenue. However, as we’ve shown, combining these two efforts to form a unified front offers a far greater ROI. Executing the alignment might be a bit tricky to pull off, especially in larger companies, but it’s absolutely possible. The key lies in making sure that the alignment starts with finding common ground and building from there.
To begin, ensure that both departments have point persons or working groups that will take the lead. In particular, it’s a good idea to organize the system where leads pass from Marketing to Sales. Marketing should have a specific team member responsible for passing leads on to Sales, who should also have a designated point person to receive the leads. Why is this important? Marketing generates the leads through its advertising and promotional programs, which it then passes to Sales for nurturing. These leads require constant monitoring to ensure they have the best chance of being converted into paying customers. That’s why it’s crucial to know exactly who’s handling specific leads at all times.
Rally Around Buyer Personas
Marketing usually creates buyer personas based on inputs from Sales. Since you’ll need the help of both departments to create the most accurate persona, why not co-develop them from the start?
Train Each Other
The process of alignment includes helping each other see things from the other’s perspective. That’s why organizing and facilitating inter-department familiarization training is crucial. It sheds light on each department’s motives and then works with them, rather than against them. Sales can show how they pitch products to different types of audiences, while Marketing can share market trends and competitor intelligence.
Create a Service Level Agreement and Decide on Metrics
Putting expectations in black and white helps clearly define responsibilities for each group. A Service Level Agreement stating the specific duties of each party can help define the parameters of the alignment.
Ultimately, the success of the alignment will depend on improvements in conversions and increases in revenue. Therefore, it’s always a good idea for each team to regularly monitor and share developments. Too much communication is better than too little. In the same breath, the team should establish common terminology and metrics beforehand. It’s important to make sure that this baseline setting is also part of the alignment process and not a solo project by either department. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should play a significant role in goal setting as well. These indicate if the Sales and Marketing alignment is working as intended.
Meet and Communicate Regularly
Once you finalize the ground rules and common goals, set schedules for regular updates and alignment meetings. This includes creating communication channels such as chat or email groups exclusive to the alignment effort. When communication is readily available and consistent, everybody remains in the loop.
Leverage Technology to Align Sales and Marketing
Part of aligning sales and marketing efforts is using common tools. Having software that meets both groups’ requirements is essential to maintaining communication. You should also invest in a tool that will prevent the forming of information silos. Both Sales and Marketing should have access to the same well of information. That way, they’re always working alongside one another and never against each other.
Collaboration-friendly software is necessary for both groups to freely share ideas and information. These tools range from business intelligence applications that monitor performance to interactive presentation software that informs and instructs.
Business intelligence software also allows everyone to monitor the whereabouts of each lead in the pipeline. Corresponding data analytics then suggest which leads require immediate attention and which ones are ready to move forward.
Furthermore, investing in cloud-based presentation software ensures that both Marketing and Sales can collaborate on a single presentation document. They are free to edit, comment and communicate via a single streamlined hub. Built-in analytic features can help shed light on which parts of the presentation captivated the audience and which fell flat.
Achieve Marketing and Sales Goals with Ingage
Ingage is cloud-based interactive presentation software that allows teams to collaborate on a single document. This allows both the Sales and Marketing teams to collaborate during the presentation design process. Accessing money-making documents is as easy as opening a desktop app. Once completed, you can share the full presentation with the intended client via email.
Ingage’s built-in analytics feature allows the software to track and gauge the engagement level of the viewer. The software can identify which parts generated the most interest from the viewer and which sections fell short. This allows the Sales and Marketing teams to fine-tune their presentations without the guesswork.
Learn about how Ingage elevates the way your Sales and Marketing teams engage with clients—let us show you what we can do with a free demonstration.