Sales and marketing: it's obvious why these two departments go hand in hand, yet nudging them out of their silos and into a collaborative mindset is trickier than you might think. If your business is embarking on an inbound marketing journey, then you'll know just how important it is to align the efforts of these teams.
But where do you begin?
When it comes to problem-solving, identifying the issues is always step number one.
Creating a collaborative smarketing team should be the goal of every business in 2020; but first, you should address the challenges that prevent alignment so that you can create systems and introduce effective tools to help both teams cooperate. So, let's take a closer look at what these common obstacles are.
It's human nature to be sceptical of new ideas or processes – particularly if unsuccessful strategies have been rolled out in the past with little follow-through. If there's already existing friction between your sales and marketing teams, they may be reluctant to believe in the existence of a magic silver bullet that can help to rectify the situation.
If you're going to achieve marketing and sales alignment, you need emotional buy-in from each individual on every team. Start by demonstrating the positive effects of improved communication between the groups; seize opportunities to share client success stories and circulate reports that show how these collaborative efforts are improving metrics such as engagement and conversion. Without proof and continuous encouragement, the concept of smarketing may seem like another fancy top-down management implementation that will soon fizzle out.
Fundamentally, the roles of sales and marketing are different: one is often out in the field or on the phone to clients, while the other relies on data and market trends to create campaigns and opportunities for the sales teams. It's easy to see where the overlap occurs, but if communication between the two is limited, certain service level agreements (SLAs) may continue to go unmet. SLAs define the standards and obligations everyone has agreed to meet – not only when it comes to customers, but also to one another in a professional capacity.
When sales and marketing don’t consolidate their ideas and construct the customer journey together, leads will continue to receive mixed messages and progress will suffer.
For example, marketing teams work to generate leads based on the buyer personas and archetypes they create from the data they receive and interpret through website traffic and other customer interactions. Often, however, sales may neglect to act on these leads, feeling that they're not a right fit based on their experience of sales and the pipelines they've carved out for themselves. This incohesive approach can really ramp up the friction between departments, causing one to ignore the other, making it impossible to target a common goal. Which brings us to our next point...
Sure, sales and marketing may have a shared vision of growing the business, but the pathways to getting there and the benchmarks with which they measure success may be at odds.
Both sales and marketing have tonnes of useful knowledge, and when it's combined, they can streamline their efforts to meet shared objectives. This can help to build trust between the two departments and a greater understanding of what each contributes to the business.
To bridge the communication gap, both teams should schedule regular meetings where they can discuss new ideas, report improvements and challenges, as well as make sure that SLAs are being upheld on both ends. This will create a more responsive approach to acquiring leads, and retaining existing customers, reinforcing a mindset of continuous improvement, keeping everyone focussed on the same goals.
Your marketing team is focussed on generating leads; sales are concerned with conversions. Both of these activities are essential to the organisation, but if the quality of the leads is poor, those conversions simply won't happen.
Marketing agencies often get phone calls from business owners or sales managers inquiring about SEO – just SEO. Yes, ranking high on Google is always desirable, but if your website isn't optimised for sales, you're going to miss out on a lot of opportunities. This is where the priorities get jumbled up. Your marketing team may be working hard to create a sales pipeline through content, while sales want a higher volume of leads to call and interact with. But what if sales had a hand in content creation and helped marketers answer the questions that customers are seeking once they jump on the phone?
Inbound best practice demonstrates that website visitors who acquire a level of understanding about your products and services from your website will be primed for a purchasing decision. Using a CRM tool will give your sales team insight into what stage of the buyer’s journey the lead is in, helping them to tailor their sales approach for that audience. This minimises the time salespeople spend on leads who don't fit your buyer persona profile, boosting productivity and conversation rates.
There are plenty of stereotypes that float around in organisations. Sales teams often view marketing as that expensive luxury activity that can be scaled back when times are lean. Marketing may view sales as the more autocratic department that gets all the praise because they generate revenue. When these teams work in silos, their schedules are usually packed with their own individual activities, sometimes unwittingly putting out each other's fires.
The truth is, however, that when sales and marketing have a strong involvement in each other's decision making processes, they can save a lot of time and resources. When both teams meet regularly to learn about one another's roles and weekly activities, they come up with cohesive solutions that help to generate high-quality leads faster and more effectively.
By having input in content strategies, sales can help marketing unblock bottlenecks in the customer journey and start getting calls from warmed up leads who have already answered the most time-consuming FAQs for themselves.
Did any of these obstacles resonate with what you've been experiencing in your company? We know that 2021 has brought about plenty of challenges, particularly for sales teams who may now be working remotely, so to help companies implement tried and tested inbound sales strategies, we've created a special bootcamp to get your sellers from prospecting to closing successfully. If you'd like to position your business for long term growth, apply for our Sales Bootcamp today. Sprichst du Deutsch? Then click here to listen to our podcast and learn more about sales and marketing alignment from one of our Sales Bootcamp coaches, Lanny Heiz.
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