A few weeks ago, my friend and colleague, Chris Hardeman, wrote a blog titled “Sales is from Mars, Marketing’s from Venus: Five Factors to Close the Gap.” In this blog Chris shared five things sales management wishes their marketing team knew. I’d like to chime in with a few thoughts from a marketer’s perspective.
Five Lessons in Marketing & Sales Alignment for Marketers
Over the course of my career in marketing, I’ve always worked very closely with sales – at times even reported into the sales organization. This has given me the opportunity to truly experience the benefits of sales and marketing alignment. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Take advantage of proximity to your sales team.
Sit with the sales team. Be close enough to hear their talk tracks and the conversations they’re having. They’re following up on leads you created; listening helps you gauge the quality of those leads. This proximity also allows you to hear trends in the conversations, which really feeds your thoughts as you create new campaigns! If it’s physically impossible to sit with sales all the time, try for at least one afternoon a week. You’ll be surprised how much you learn.
- Be a part of the sales team, and have them be a part of your team too.
We’re all busy balancing meetings and actually getting work done. But make it a point to attend sales meetings. At first, some sales managers may balk at having marketing join their meetings. However, in the end, you need the information they are sharing, and they’ll see how this benefits them. Listen to best practices teammates are sharing with each other, absorb information on key wins/losses. From these insights, campaigns and/or messaging ideas will form. Make sure to invite sales leadership into marketing meetings as well – so they can see the whole picture and contribute to the discussions.
- Communicate more than you think you need to.
Announcing something in a meeting simply isn’t enough. Yes, there’s a fine line between getting the message out and overwhelming the sales team with emails. However, it’s critical that the amount and level of communication is discussed and agreed to. What information does the sales team need about marketing campaigns? How far in advance? What additional information do the sales managers need? Creating a “Campaign Alert” or weekly “Field Note” template helps to streamline this process.
- Work together on campaigns.
The most successful campaigns I’ve created are those that are multi-touch – and with heavy sales involvement. Industry standards state that it takes about seven sales “touches” to qualify a potential sale. Be prescriptive about these touches and provide the sales team the required resources, such as on-message email templates they can deploy quickly. The key to the success of these campaigns is ensuring that both marketing and sales have defined roles, and work in concert.
- Proactively address issues together.
Be honest in communications about leads, campaigns and metrics. This will help the team identify potential issues early, while there’s time to get in front of them. Slow start to the quarter? Extra quarter-end marketing push needed? Leads sitting in an “Open status” for too long? These aren’t just sales or just marketing issues – these are issues to be discussed and addressed together.
In the end, both the sales and marketing teams share the same goal: revenue. It’s easier – and far more productive – for us to achieve our goals when we work together. And yes, your marketing automation platform has a crucial role to play here as well. It gives a supporting framework for alignment, helps marketing and sales share critical information and outcomes, and provides internal touchpoints.
Interested in learning more about how you can better align sales and marketing to increase sales? Download our sales and marketing alignment white paper.