Now it’s time to show you exactly how you can start making the epic quest towards it.
- In this post our focus will be on organisational ways to align sales and marketing.
- And in the next post we’ll look at more tactical ways to place the needs of the buyer at the centre of your marketing campaigns and sales strategies.
In both you’ll gain practical tips and advice on solving the problem of sales and marketing alignment.
The power of one
While some companies aim to achieve alignment by having marketing reporting into sales – or opting to have sales report into marketing – these structural changes somewhat miss the point.
‘Marketing and sales need to be peers, reporting up to the same person or group. This allows you to have aligned objectives, as you report to the same person, but also individual objectives, to support your different needs.’Kathy Seegebrecht, Branding Magazine
It sure is going to feel strange to replace your CMO and CSO with a Chief Revenue Officer – but this is the best way to unite your sales and marketing activity and gain a holistic focus on revenue.
Teething problems can be expected – along with a fair few noses being put out of joint – but creating one department, eventually creates shared goals, shared metrics and a share culture. The ideas that follow show you practical ways to achieve this.
And, if it feels a step too far to create one unified sales and marketing department, there are many ways you can get started creating sales and marketing synergies without involving HR or a restructure. The ideas that follow will work for you too.
Seven simple ways you can align sales and marketing today
1. Building bridges
Ensure that there is at least one person – or an entire team for larger organisations – whose role is that of sales enablement.
In effect, this function is to ‘sit between’ marketing and sales to facilitate coordination and cooperation.
2. Meeting regularly
You’ll know whether it’s monthly or weekly meetings that your organisation needs, but it is vital that there is a regular forum to share how sales are doing with their quota and goals, and what marketing campaigns and strategies are in the pipeline.
In addition, sales and marketing managers need to frequently review results, focussing on metrics such as lead generation, MQLs, percent of leads worked and lead-to-customer conversion rate. One of the most overlooked conversations is that of lead quality – marketing must hear what sales think of their leads, and sales must be ready to share with a view of constantly improving.
3. Out and about together
Whether it’s an industry meetup, happy hour after hours in the local bar or an organised conference – spending time together in a casual setting builds bridges.
Better still, as it also offers networking opportunities, how about sharing a speaker slot at a thought leadership event? Attending or planning an event together provides a unique opportunity to get to know each other outside of the traditional work environment.
4. Create a team email alias
Even if your departments aren’t formally joined up there are lots of ways to create strong links. One is to create an email alias that gets sent to both teams. Used strategically this can ensure that important information is always shared.
5. Foster insights (rather than let it fester)
Your sales teams are there at the frontline, help them to bring back the latest news. They will have lots of information about what’s exciting prospects and the pain points they’re most keenly feeling.
Why not create a monthly brainstorm session whose sole purpose is to make sure that the latest feedback direct from customers is fed into marketing collateral’s creation?
6. Collaborate on collateral
When you create fresh content that is timely and driven by market need make sure that the sales team are not only looped in but that their buy-in is ensured.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Include all promotional activity on a shared calendar.
- Email every new offer/communication to the sales team – and highlight the main objectives in bullet points to guarantee the ‘intent’ is clear.
- Follow up with information on the list of leads each activity is generating, so it’s easy for the sales team to respond.
- Create email templates that make it easy for your sales team to generate new leads and re-engage old leads based on your latest campaigns
7. Share calls and meetings
The simplest way to ensure that marketing messages are aligned with sales reality is for the marketing team to sit in as a silent partner on sales calls or, better still, attend sales pitches as an active partner.
Before rolling out any new message, marketing should be reality-checking it by ‘riding along’ on meetings with customers to see exactly how they respond.
Focus on revenue
Behind each of these practical steps, however, there also needs to be a mind-set change.
And this change can only be created by a focus on an end-to-end revenue cycle.
Far too often company cultures have developed a sales silo and a marketing silo. There is no sync between the sales cycle and the marketing cycle – and little buy-in to each other’s cycle from the respective departments.
Each and every step of lead generation, nurturing, conversion and retention needs to be clearly linked to revenue. This way, each team understands their responsibility in the process, can clearly see what the other is working on and can dynamically pitch in to help close or maximise the deal.
One way to create this focus is via rewards.
In many companies this has already occurred in the C-suite but it has failed to move downstream. According to a recent report from Forrester, 82 per cent of CMOs already have goals that are directly tied to revenue and profit.
The problem here is that another recent marketing leadership surveyfound that only 23 percent of marketers are compensated on revenue or closed business.
Put simply, just because the CMO has revenue goals tied to their compensation package it doesn’t mean the rest of their team are joining the party.
While there is more to winning hearts and minds than compensation packages alone, it is certainly the case that traditionally sales teams have thrived on accepting quota-carrying roles, whereas many in marketing still view these as a potential risk rather than opportunity.
The main reason for this is that compensation has been underused as a way to facilitate and motivate cross-departmental collaboration and communication between sales and marketing. It has been very much part of the sales territory, as it were.
Beyond the efficiencies of smarketing there is another very good reason to link ROI and revenue to marketing.
Here’s what one CMO has to say:
With a properly aligned marketing and sales alliance, marketing gets a huge help in one area that’s long been a challenge: reporting ROI.Chief Marketing Officer
Marketers’ budgets are increasing every single year, but it’s very difficult for most CMOs to really tell what their contribution to revenue is, because many marketing leaders are still thinking about the number of leads, and not showing what we contributed to revenue.
When we think about sales and marketing alignment, and how those two need to operate as one, anything that a marketer does should be to increase revenue.
Two ways to create a focus on revenue across sales and marketing
1. Account Based Marketing (ABM)
A highly-attractive approach to creating a focus on revenue to align sales and marketing is to include project-based revenue generation tactics that are worked on together.
With marketing and sales collaborating on a single, multifaceted tactic co-operation is ensured.
This is what account-based marketing (ABM) is all about. It involves identifying targeted accounts – usually grouped by interest, size or sector – and creating targeting assets that can be used use to drive new contacts, increase engagement and close sales opportunities.
‘60% of content created in the marketing department was never used. And 90% of the content we were creating was product-specific, despite the fact that most of our audience were in an early-stage part of the buyer stage and asking non-product specific questions.’Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at Newscred, on his experience at SAP.
At its heart lies shared ownership of potential customer groups and an ongoing closed-loop feedback system where real-time qualitative feedback on the performance of assets is provided alongside real-time quantitative data on the overall performance of the campaign.
2. A co-created revenue strategy
The goal here is broader.
It ditches the focus on accounts in favour of a focus on buyer personas – and it uses these to clearly set the path for what each team will do to drive revenue.
There’s plenty more to say on this but…
We’re going to go into more detail about this approach that focusses on buyer personas and customers’ journeys in a lot more detail in our next post.
Along the way we’ll look at aligning metrics and KPIs, technology and processes, and creating SLAs for both sales and marketing.
See you there.