There is an assumed tension between Salespeople and Marketers: Salespeople criticize Marketing teams for sending over weak leads, while Marketers chide Sales teams for not following up on the leads they generate.
These interdepartmental breakdowns result in lost opportunities, wasted effort and frustration. And these weaknesses are all the more visible now as organizations wrestle with a slumping economy.
But no matter how teams shift the blame, the truth of the matter is that both teams depend on each other since everyone is pushing towards the same goal—generating revenue. When Sales and Marketing teams stand united, they achieve great things.
Driving Alignment Between Sales and Marketing
Early last year, Conversica ran a short survey asking Marketing and Sales leaders about the relationship between their teams. The vast majority of Sales (87 percent) and Marketing (93 percent) professionals said their relationship with one another as either “important” or “very important.”
But while two-thirds of respondents said relationships between the teams were good, they also believed it could be better. This begs the question, what are the ways Sales and Marketing leaders can actually make things better?
“This grid is something I always find myself coming back to,” Rashmi Vittal, CMO at Conversica, said of this nine-square grid that combines people, processes and technology to most effectively coordinate a go-to-market strategy, demand generation and enablement. “This is absolutely from a Marketing mindset in terms of what Marketers can do to help better align themselves to Sales.”
People, Processes and Technology
On the left-hand side, you can have people, process, and technology.
It all starts with people. The people on your teams need to have the proper skill set to critically evaluate the market, educate and communicate with would-be customers, and motivate buyers. Business leaders need to hire the right people and empower them to do what they do best.
“In any organization, whatever department you’re working with, you always have to deal with people. People are always part of the scenario,” Vittal said. “But then you also have processes. Within the group or across groups, how do you get stuff done and what’s the expectation?”
Creating and sustaining proper processes is essential for any organization. Unfortunately, many of these processes are created in a Marketing silo before being passed over to Sales as directives. This breeds mistrust since Salespeople sometimes assume that Marketing doesn’t know what prospects really want. To create better processes, Marketing and Sales leaders need to collaborate on market research and playbooks to effectively generate (and hopefully convert) quality pipeline.
Technology is the final piece of this puzzle, helping to accelerate people-power and provide insight into how well processes are performing. Examples include analytics, reporting and enablement tools; as well as CRMs and Marketing Automation Platforms.
“From your marketing automation tool to your CRM tool, the reporting and analytics is critical to even come to the table with sales and have that conversation to answer the question, ‘How are we doing, and what can we do better?’” Vittal said. “Then there are other technologies like what we offer—Intelligent Virtual Assistants that actually help optimize the funnel at certain parts of various stages to have higher contribution into your pipeline and higher contribution into your revenue.”
Intelligent Virtual Assistants for Sales and Marketing help drive top-line growth, accelerate hot leads, and autonomously collect lead up-to-date lead data (such as contact information) via scalable two-way, human-like conversations. By automating many redundant processes, this form of intelligent automation helps teams become more profitable and efficient.
As it stands, there is simply not enough capacity for either team to deliver the experience necessary to garner more opportunities. For Marketing, this problem manifests itself in an inability to deliver a personalized touch to large numbers of incoming leads. But strictly speaking, it’s not that your organizations want to touch more leads. What you really want is the ability to catch more customers.
Drew Neisser, founder and CEO of New York-based marketing agency Renegade, mentioned in a recent podcast that his father would encourage him during sports practice by saying, “if you can touch it, you can catch it.” While we don’t always catch a new opportunity, we can practice turning more misses into close-calls and more close-calls into catches.
But to do so, Salespeople and Marketers need to fully align and expand their sense of responsibility all the way through the funnel to closure. As Neisser says, the age-old marketing excuse, “Hey, we filled the pipeline and sales just didn’t close,” won’t cut it.
GTM Strategy, Demand Gen and Enablement
Across the top are examples of what Marketers can do to help better align themselves with Sales.
The first is a go-to-market strategy that boils down to something super simple: Where’s the revenue coming from? Marketing must work with Product Marketing to define a go-to-market strategy before they can turn Sales loose on leads and prospects.
The second is the execution which leads to demand generation. How are you generating interest? And how much of that interest should come from Marketing versus Sales? What role does this joint relationship play?
“People need to lean in on the demand gen table together,” Vittal said. “It’s about generating what we love and know as pipeline and revenue.”
The third area is enablement. Notice that the right-most column mentions “enablement” rather than sales enablement. It’s important to acknowledge that Marketing impacts the entire organization from nurturing and educating leads for Sales to fostering relationships with customers to create brand ambassadors.
Vittal says, “if you have the right people on your team, you should be enabling the company. Marketing’s role is not on the outside, externally educating and influencing the market at large. It also should help with influencing within the company as well.”
One example is establishing a regular cadence of education, knowing that education is fundamental and paramount to the success of your Sales team. Match this with the proper technologies to help people do what they do best and you have a winning combination.
Building Trust Is All About Collaboration
So, how do Sales and Marketing teams instill better collaboration and alignment?
“There is no big reveal. There’s no ta-da moment. It’s building trust through collaboration,” Neisser said.
To better align Sales and Marketing teams, business leaders need to overcome the siloed thinking that Sales has a job and Marketing has a job. They need to realize that both have the same job of generating revenue for the company. Business leaders ought to strive to bring together the best people, processes and technologies to empower their revenue-generating teams.
Listen to the full conversation from Renegade Thinkers Unite Podcast in the episode titled