The disconnect between marketing and sales is an all too common scenario. Recognizing the misalignment is the first step to closing the gap. Department heads can take the lead to find the most effective and practical ways marketing can boost sales enablement to improve overall business performance and reach forecasted targets.
Marketing is more connected than ever to the customer. 60% of the decision is made before a lead even talks to sales. Sales and marketing alignment is not a mere buzzword but a necessity so B2B companies can ensure the full customer lifecycle remains seamless.
At the heart of sales enablement is airtight coordination between marketing a sales to bring strategies to the field. The alignment is both a numbers game and quality assurance. Tracking numbers and conversions shed light on which stages in the funnel qualitative improvements need to be implemented.
The first step leaders must take is aligning goals. Each head monitors and measures relevant success rates to continue to optimize processes and improve content delivered to sales reps in the field or on the floor.Look at data together and match with content marketing. Both Sales and Marketing have access to some great analytics and data, and sharing it is the best way to make that information work for everyone. As I mentioned, that customer data found in your CRM is useful for marketing. Sales may like to see your web site analytics to better understand which products are selling well. Both teams should look at which lead-generating white papers or offers are netting the most targeted leads so the two can work together to create more value to those leads.
For marketing leaders:
- MQLs passed to SAL: The single most important metric that all marketing actions are measured by are the leads. This number indicates to what degree each potential customer is engaging with the brand before interacting with sales.
- % of content used by sales: Determines the relevance of content produced by marketing has in the sales process and to their prospects.
For sales leaders:
- Sales cycle time: Throughout the cycle, sales reps must recognize buying signals and trigger events that are related to that prospect’s problems. The closer the relationship the more relevant messaging and sales enablement tools can be adapted to the process and contribute to reducing cycle time.
- MQL to opportunity to close: Identify the reasons behind the number of days a lead spends in each stage. Determine what type of content format or arguments will help to move the lead along the funnel. Evaluate with the sales team and make necessary adjustments with the marketing team.
After determining the numbers, move onto the processes and qualitative elements to be monitored and optimized.
- Align the Message- Marketing is more directly connected to the customer than ever before. Sales needs to be aware of campaigns in progress and on deck. Marketing takes the lead in communicating the events, content, and actions around each campaign to align messaging and timing. If each department runs their own course with a different message, the result is an unclear value proposition and a confused potential customer. For example, if your company is offering a “Buy One Get One Free” event, a sales rep can mention this offer to customers. Sales is there to support Marketing, and vice versa. When Sales is attuned to what Marketing is working on promotion-wise, Sales can support those campaigns through its own communication with existing clients and leads.
- Meet to Set Up Common Goals- Too often, Sales and Marketing meet independently of one another when, in fact, they’re better off meeting as a group, at a minimum, at least once a month. Doing so can help the two units team up to establish goals that are realistic and communicated to all. This helps keep the Sales team in check (“There’s no way we can quadruple sales in 30 days!”) as well as helps Marketing understand how to position their campaigns to support Sales’ goals. Here’s an example: if the Sales team is setting a goal to kick the sales of a new product line into high gear at the start of the year, Marketing can build social updates, a promotion, blog posts, a press release, and email campaign all around that new product to boost sales. This not only gives direction for marketing campaigns, but also helps Sales realize its internal goals numbers-wise.
- Positioning your sales team as experts in your space- Provide market insights, persona definitions and align messages to pain points that your product or service can solve. At Compettia Marketing sits with Sales to determine the job titles that interest them most (likely to buy, decision-makers and influencers), together target sectors, then messaging and campaigns are implemented. Ongoing product training keeps Sales up-to-speed. Matching buyer needs and matching with solutions as closely as possible work to reduce sales cycle time. Competitor analyses provide strong arguments for decision makers and roles that need to sell your solution within their organizations. Test their knowledge to ensure the messages are exactly as Marketing has defined to elevate their authority and image.
- Agree on what constitutes as a lead- The further into discussions you get, you may find that Sales and Marketing have different ideas of what makes a good lead. Dialogue can change that, as well as help you identify the criteria for a good lead. You can also work together to identify the different stages for a lead, who has responsibility at each stage, and what each department can do to foster that lead toward a purchase.
- Keep sales up-to-date with promotions- Your sales team likely isn’t dialed into the company’s day-to-day marketing activities. Ask the team members how they would prefer to be notified of events such as webinars you are conducting or new e-books you are launching.
- Deliver easy to absorb messages- Maybe you list the events and activities on an internal calendar and figure they can access that and see what’s happening when, but the team members would appreciate a notification in Slack or a task assigned to them in your customer relationship management system
- Leverage mobile apps- Reach sales people wherever they are. Sales people are some of the busiest people in the organization. They don't have the time to stop to get trained in-house, but find gaps in their day between prospecting and client meetings. Microlearning formats are highly adapted to employees on the go with little time to spend or short attention spans.
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Working together, the Sales and Marketing departments can be even more successful in hitting their targets, growing sales, and their customer base.