The marketing and sales departments in most organisations have very different view points and agendas, often driven by different metrics or goals – this often leads to frustration. But working closely with the sales team can bring benefits to both the sales and marketing team, far beyond creating a civil workplace.
Different view points do not mean that either is necessarily right or wrong, just different. By meeting regularly in a collaborative and creative atmosphere both teams can help each other achieve their objectives. We’ve touched on the idea of sales and marketing alignment before, but this post goes further than simply ‘bridging the gap’.
Understanding of the customer
The sales team are on the coalface talking with prospects and customers on a daily basis. They obtain a huge wealth of knowledge about the challenges customers have now, and in the future. This ongoing insight from multiple view points, offers deep insight into your ideal buyers and what their needs are, but more importantly, there’s the possibility of gleaning emotional concerns that can help shape future communications.
For example, by involving the sales team in a buyer profile workshop, it was possible to identify the true motivations of the types of IT buyer they sold to. Sales said that they regularly came across Heads of IT that were more concerned about looking good in order to get head-hunted by a larger firm than delivering a successful IT project that added value to their existing company. Whilst not true of all senior IT people, it was common in their specific market. Invaluable insight for the marketing collateral and case studies where the tone of voice and the end benefit for the reader was ultimately pitched at empowering them with knowledge or insight.
Identify concerns about your product or company
Sales teams see first hand rejection, whilst marketing are shielded from that raw feedback. By understanding why prospects choose not to use you can provide valuable feedback for the lead generation and nurture process. The best way to do this is through thorough win/loss analysis which is regularly fed back to marketing. Again, the information gleaned can shape case studies, use cases and the sales process to directly address prospect concerns and objections.
Improve sales conversions
The sales team naturally focus on those opportunities are that are easiest to win. They’re more in control and it gives them greater assurance of hitting their targets. It’s worth remembering though that colder leads will go on and buy from someone at some point, so it’s important to stay front of mind with them.
Taking a genuine interest in the sales pipeline and working on a granular level with sales will allow you to identify any stagnant opportunities that are not progressing or that have suddenly been put on hold for 6-9 months. It’s human nature that sales will quickly identify these and shift attention to perceived hotter leads/opportunities. By identifying and adding any stagnant opportunities to a specialist nurture campaign allows sales to focus on his best prospects but know prospects that have cooled down are being kept engaged.
Lead quality not quantity
Getting regular feedback on opportunities as they progress to sale (or don’t progress) will allow you to identify which marketing was effective and which sources create the best quality leads with a higher propensity to buy. More importantly, the sales team can give you valuable feedback about ‘why’ they bought. They can dramatically affect the overall results for both sales and marketing as campaigns become focused on generating quality leads, rather than focusing on the quantity of leads.
Feedback on your marketing messages
We all hope to create the very best marketing that we can, but without feedback there is no way of knowing if what you are doing is working well. I once had a discussion with a young salesman who said he often struggled to get his follow-up emails through to his prospects as they had blocked the company’s emails due to irrelevant marketing emails. Ouch! Pushing this feedback to the marketing team is essential to rectify a serious situation. In this instance, the marketing team were given the right tools (and training) to enable them to segment the database and send out more relevant email campaigns to appropriate groups of buyers.
Aligning sales and marketing teams is not an easy task, but it’s not rocket science either. It does take hard work and commitment from both sides (along with a dash of patience). Both sides have to collaborate, and whilst you’re both working to different targets with different metrics, you working to a common goal and support from both sides will ultimately lead to the right place.