Never have two departments been so close together, yet been so likely to disagree. And never has it been so important that they act together.
In this article, we plot the path towards common goals, collaboration, and improved sales.
One wants to generate long-term brand value. One wants to create leads at any cost. One wants to start the perfect conversation. One just wants ANY conversation. One is focussed on generating brand impact. One is focussed on generating hard cash.
In a downturn it’s vital that both of these priorities are met – but many companies deprioritise long-term focussed marketing at the first sight of trouble. This can diminish in-house teams, reduce reach budgets, and halt important sales oriented initiatives.
Getting Sales and Marketing teams working together helps protect you against this mistake, safeguarding the medium and long term, while also benefiting the immediate term.
“These leads are garbage”. “You aren’t sticking to the brand messaging in your powerpoint”. “Why are we putting resources into THAT when I need more of THIS?”. “It’s your fault we missed targets”.
It is all too easy to focus on these differences, rather than on the shared goals. Focussing on differences wastes energy, and distracts us from our ultimate objective. It wastes time, and pulls attention away from our customers and onto ourselves. And most importantly it wastes huge amounts of potential.
If you can align both teams behind a single set of goals, stop the wheel-spinning, and all push in the same direction, just imagine what’s possible.
So let’s think about what the teams share for a second. Good things happen in the overlap.
Both teams spend all day telling the story of the business.
Both teams talk primarily to customers.
Both teams rely on each other for feedback when trying new things.
Both teams contribute to growth.
There are many others, but these are the most powerful.
They are powerful for a simple reason. Success looks the same for both teams, and so no-one has to give ground to make collaboration work. Finding this common ground is essential when trying to drive change across functions.
Sit down with your opposite number and create a common set of goals, with associated behaviours. This will often require the creation of a new, different, perhaps bigger thing.
Typically there is little collaboration between the sales team and marketing team when defining stories. The brand messaging will often be future focussed and in the space of ‘grand vision’. The selling messaging will be tailored to the customer we’re talking to today, and so will be much more fluid.
[ ] Create a single defined baseline story across brand and product that both teams sign up to. Keep it high level at first, enough to be useful, but not bogged down in detail.
This allows Marketing to add to the product sales flow, and it allows sales to bake the brand story into even the most transactional sales conversation.
Success means contradictory messages disappear, investment in messaging is realised in all communications, and everyone hears the same story.
Hearing (or reading) customer feedback is vitally important to developing new communications.
Welcome at least one person from marketing into the sales team CRM. Read only access is fine.
This will give them deeper insight into the reality of day-to-day communication with clients. This will inevitably influence outputs, and bring product messaging into sharp focus for the marketing team. It also ensures that Marketing see the eventual fruits of their labour in the form of hard cash values.
Success means both teams understanding the full start to finish conversation with clients, allowing them to make better decisions.
Very often there are only two types of interaction. Blocking sign off, or no interaction. Nothing in between. This can mean that teams only share activity and insight when they have to. That’s not great.
Agree a feedback loop between sales and marketing. Remember - it is really important that this is a feedback loop rather than an approvals loop.
Sales will benefit from earlier briefing on new campaign work. Marketing will benefit from seeing real customer stories. Both will benefit from improvements based on feedback.
Success means an active focus on feedback and improvement will rejuvenate all communications.
A complete disconnect between marketing and sales KPIs is surprisingly common.
Draw a marketing and sales funnel. Split it in 2. Enter some numbers, and highlight the handover points from one stage to another. The simplified version in our workbook is often all that is needed. This needn’t replace (or even impact in any way) the sales map of advances and deal stages.
Reviewing this regularly will highlight that Marketing should generate leads, Marketing and Sales should nurture leads, and Sales should close leads. It will, and that collaboration is the best way to push leads through the funnel.
Success means greater visibility of pipeline performance, and ultimately improved pipeline performance, attributable to individual improvements. A perfect demonstration of the critical position both teams have in the business.
By rallying both teams around this simple four point framework you can harness the combined energy of the greater team in the right direction, realise the benefit of insights across the organisation, and ultimately, build brand value, drive more sales, and ready your business to exploit every opportunity to the full.
Take the first step.
Cracking just one of these issues will start a flow of collaboration that will benefit both teams, make the other issues easier to tackle, and bring measurable benefit to the business.
Using the workbook as a first step on this journey has potential to dramatically improve the effectiveness of your marketing and sales function. It has example feedback agreements, messaging templates, and will help you get straight to action.
Or if you think some external help would be useful get in touch. We’d be delighted to come and share some insights, look at your current structure and practices, and start helping you to align your teams.