How To Improve Performance Through Sales and Marketing Alignment
“The new reality is that sales and marketing are continuously and increasingly integrated. Marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.” - Jill Rowley
An Opportunity to Increase Performance
The opportunity for improving business performance today hinges on a culture that aligns sales and marketing. When marketing and sales teams sync around shared objectives, they dramatically improve marketing ROI, sales productivity, and, most importantly, top-line growth.
A survey conducted by Corporate Visions, Inc. polled over 420 B2B marketing and sales professionals worldwide regarding the level of B2B demand generation and sales enablement/training alignment with their organizations. The data revealed that 40% of responders believe that optimal sales and marketing alignment contributes to stronger lead conversion rates, while 27.7% believe that the lack of alignment leads to the loss of conversions and closed deals.
As companies ignite brand cultures that rally around shared views and a sense of community, sales and marketing teams are uniting to serve their target audience better and increase business performance. According to their CMO’s Agenda report, Aberdeen Group found that high alignment generates higher brand awareness and average deal size. Moreover, the following graph sums it up nicely.
The Problem: Misaligned Sales and Marketing
If you think that misaligned sales and marketing isn’t that big of a problem, think again. As the misalignment between sales and marketing costs B2B companies 10% -or more- of their revenue per year.
Needless to say that this misalignment causes a state of inaction, where neither sales nor marketing teams can deliver peak performance or hit the company’s objectives consistently, which leads marketing teams to produce B2B content that doesn’t get deployed in the sales cycle, which in turn leads to the failure of converting a whopping 79% of marketing leads into sales.
When the goals and incentives of the two teams, sales, and marketing, are misaligned, then it shows a direct impact on the confidence of the salesperson. Often, sales goals are too high and altogether impossible to attain, demotivating the sales person and their commitment to the organization itself. And that’s no surprise since 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting.
And if that isn’t bad enough, the lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget cost companies -at least- one trillion dollars a year!
Alignment between sales and marketing starts at the top, with the leadership and is part of the belief system and the brand culture.
Solution: Integrate the sales and marketing processes of a business.
How to Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams
1. Build a Sales-Marketing Culture
2. Set Shared Goals
3. Hold Weekly Meetings
4. Communicate Cohesively
5. Use Data Analytics
1. S-Marketing Culture
“I do believe the modern sales leader has to be a marketer.” – Matt Gorniak
S-Marketing is not just a word; it is a concept. The word, derived from the blend of the words sales and marketing, refers to a shared department at companies which dedicates to closing more business with a combined approach S-Marketing has been gaining in importance and popularity because it has the power to maximum ad spend, increase conversions, close more sales, and increase top-line growth.
The right brand culture is critical to the success of the integration. From onboarding to industry events and cross-functional support, the corporate culture must support an environment that encourages the teams to be available to each other. Every new hire should get training on the concept of open thinking between sales and marketing at inception. Company sponsored events and outings outside of work.where the two teams get to know and meet each other in a setting, can help set the right tone.
2. Shared Goals
“Sales and marketing alignment is about one shared goal: revenue that is delivered or over-delivered every quarter. There will always be tension, but that tension can be positive if there is a culture of clear expectations and communication.” -Craig Rosenberg
Aligned goals are the foundation of any powerful alliance between marketing and sales. And it starts with connecting the data that they analyze, and considering the types of data that provide insights into marketing efforts rather than sales developments. Lead generation is highly essential to marketing teams, but these leads may not be of high quality without the right sales conversions.
To begin sharing common goals, both departments need to sync-up their end game by setting a monthly meeting for both teams to collaborate on lead generation goals. The collaboration can help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of both departments. For instance, if the sales team is struggling to sell a specific service or product, marketing teams can create a strategy to promote awareness towards the product or service and market it to high potential leads, and the sales team can take it over from here by pulling the leads through online sales funnel and close some deals.
When both teams have mutual goals and accountability, they rely on each other to produce and share high-quality content to the targeted audience.
3. Weekly Standup
“An empowered buyer is exactly what a sales and marketing organization should be targeting. Sales and marketing should unite to determine who their ideal customer is and how to reveal their latent pain and to move the customer to a place where they are more successful because of the product or service being offered.” –Claudine Bianchi
Sales and Marketing should meet together to talk about progress, share information, and discuss roadblocks. Marketing should update sales on campaign activity, website traffic, and leads. Sales should share information from the field, such as customer pain points and what questions the client is asking so that marketing can hone FAQ’s and brand messaging. If marketing and sales sit together at work, it boosts communication dramatically. Their presence together should be the norm.
Regular meetings will help the teams understand each others’ process and create synergy. Because of the lack of regular professional communication between both of the teams makes it nearly impossible to complete and close sales. A research conducted by Forrester found that only 8% of companies have strong sales and marketing alignment, due to lack of regular and effective communication.
4. Use Data
“You have to generate revenue as efficiently as possible. And to do that, you must create a data-driven sales culture. Data trumps intuition.” – Dave Elkington
The truth is, data doesn’t lie. sales and marketing teams alike can easily have a bias for a specific process, topic, or initiative. So it will remove barriers that may cause tension if both teams are relying on the same set of data. Global companies, like American Express in partnership with Deloitte Digital and Salesforce, are connecting sales and marketing teams through unified data to drive world-class experiences for business clients at scale.
Visible transparent data. Measure the same goals - Marketing needs to have an always-on dashboard with website traffic and leads. It needs to be reviewed every day to determine whether the marketing initiatives are creating conversion or not, what path are prospects taking to contact, and which tactics and strategies are performing well and which ones need to be modified.
“The best salespeople wonder what it would be like to be in the other person’s shoes. They know they can’t play that game unless they continually strive to train themselves in how we as human beings communicate.” – Bob Phibbs
Infrequent communication is one of the biggest causes of departments’ misalignment. Some ways to begin collaborating more frequently include meeting monthly to review lead quality, having the marketing team participate -silently- in a few sales calls, or encouraging the sales team to share any questions or feedback they might have or some of the requests they receive from prospects to use that information for marketing initiatives.
Creating conversations -- The sales team can lend valuable insight into the mind of the customer so that the marketing team can generate conversational pieces that answer the questions clients have, as passed along directly from the sales team. For example, FAQ's are great for helping to drive traffic to a site. Marketers can work with the sales team to deeply understand what questions clients are asking and then write FAQ's - or other content.
Little things make a big difference. The small act of open sourcing sourcing your process will open up your team's thinking.
The Benefits of Sales and Marketing Alignment
It is becoming more crucial than ever to implement S-marketing approaches, that it has become a necessity rather than a commodity. Which is no wonder, considering the tremendous benefits resulting from applying the right approaches, and nothing sums these benefits up better than solid evidence and numbers. As many statistics show that successful alignment of sales and marketing departments had the following benefits:
● Companies following this approach generated 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts.
● Synchronization between sales and marketing teams led to 36% higher customer retention.
● Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoyed 38% higher sales win rates.
● Alignment of sales and marketing impacts revenue growth up to 3 times.
● When sales and marketing are in sync, companies became 67% better at closing deals.
● Tightly aligned companies achieve 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.
The benefits of a successful sales and marketing alignment are not to be overlooked, as they can exponentially increase your sales, revenue, leads, and overall business. And on the other hand, the lack of synchronization between your sales and marketing department can lead to great losses that can be avoided by implementing an effective sales and marketing approach.
Sales and Marketing Alignment: A great example of an amazing Smarketing culture is the story of Superoffice.
In the beginning, the problem was obvious -- the sales reps were unhappy with the quality of sales-ready leads that were coming in, while marketing was tired of the excuses from sales for lack of follow up with the leads we had. It was a lose-lose situation, and action needed to be taken.
The organization’s team, led by Gret-Jan Doormalen focused on establishing an Smarketing culture following the theme “Marketing as a shared responsibility,” which successfully establishes the mutual accountability that’s necessary for creating high-quality content. And the initial focus was on brand awareness and social selling.
They also started learning about social media and used it for sales along with a plan they created to be more engaging and active. All which lead to sales and marketing becoming much more aligned and held frequent meetings to discuss content, campaigns, digital activities and goals – such as what to post online and how often, how to target prospects and build relationships and how to engage with potential customers.
And since starting this initiative back in 2016, here are the results they’ve gotten:
● An increase in business leads by 168%
● An increase in social media visits to our websites by 61%
● An increase in social media impressions from 1,000 to 50,000 per month
● Within the first 12 months, revenue increased by 10% and by the end of 2018, it was expected to increase by a further 24%.
So, in conclusion, aligning your sales and marketing team is an incredible way to grow your business and scale it beyond what marketing or sales team are capable of separately.
By merging sales and marketing into a single “S-marketing” department, and keeping them in sync with one another, you’ll be able to discover unique insights into the sales process, adjust and optimize your sales and marketing strategies, as well as grow new business opportunities and increase revenues.
A fully aligned, hybrid sales and marketing team puts your organization in the best position to extract the most value from prospects and customers and makes sure that you are growing your business to brand new heights.
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