In the endless battle between Sales and Marketing, the only ones left victorious are your competitors. So perhaps it’s time to wave a white flag and concentrate on a treaty which will aid your business in flourishing rather than flailing.
The tale is age old and we’ve all heard it before – sales and marketing just don’t get along. At times, it may even seem that these two functions, on which businesses so heavily rely, have in fact been set up with the sole purpose of butting heads (who knows, perhaps for the entertainment benefit it provides the office). But as these two fundamental departments lock antlers, it’s the business which is left suffering. And what’s worse is we all know that in ending the feud we’d be creating a healthier company with better customer retention.
Unfortunately, merely knowing this fact doesn’t make it any easier to enforce positive change. Attempting to align sales and marketing without any structure is somewhat comparable to motivating yourself to go to the gym in the winter months – failure is imminent.
But fear not, we have some simple steps to lead you down the path of glory.
1. All you need is love
Well no, we’re not new age hippies, but The Beatles had something right, you need to learn how to play the game. And this game is all about free flowing communication and empathy, which for the purpose of supporting my comparison drawn between The Beatles 1967 hit and inter departmental communication could be referred to as love… No?
Well, either way, one of the biggest issues you will face in your attempts to align Sales and Marketing is that their core instincts are in direct opposition. Sales often work on commission and are pressured to make immediate sales when company metrics fall short, while the marketing department is working on a long term plan, often with no way of really measuring their success. Marketing argues that Sales aren’t looking at the bigger picture and Sales argues that marketing aren’t delivering quality leads. And so the endless cycle of squabbling continues.
So, what should you do?
- You need to bring the Sales and Marketing teams to the same table. This is not meant as a metaphor. You need to actually physically bring these teams closer together, even if you have to drag them by their left ears, kicking and screaming (although this should only be used as a final resort as you may face some trouble from HR if you do indeed drag your employees/colleagues by their ears). The fact is, Marketing and Sales lack empathy and understanding for each other’s roles. If they are within close proximity of each other they are going to have to start talking. And when they start talking they are going to gain a greater understanding of the issues each department faces. From this simple step, you can greatly affect attitudes and beliefs.
- Next you need to organise scheduled formal meetings which create an open forum for these two departments to brainstorm problems, and come up with solutions. This will act as a space where a common language can be formed and where definitions can be redefined to better suit your business.
An example of how we at Approved Index spread the love between Marketing and Sales (while we sit at our closely positioned desks) is by sharing content. Marketing spends a lot of time developing relevant and informative content for our customers, which we then promote through our social media channels. However, by handing this content to Sales to include as a link in their email signature, we can drastically increase the reach of our hard work. An additional benefit here is that Sales is able to give feedback and assist Marketing in delivering the best possible content.
Another example of how we work together at Approved Index is by having Marketing alert Sales to potential leads we encounter through Social Media. Although we don’t always generate immediate leads through this channel, we often connect with businesses who would make ideal clients. Marketing then passes a snapshot of their details to Sales, thus delivering a hot lead.
2. Link it to your bottom line
This step is slightly more tricky. The meetings are going well, and the ‘love’/empathy and communication is flowing; but Sales and Marketing are still held accountable to opposing goals and metrics. As a business, you have to find a way to unite goals and share them across the teams. I can understand how this may sound daunting. And the trouble lies in that there really is no simple answer as your goals and metrics will be unique to your business. Let this be a work in progress, but you can certainly kick start the process by:
- Integrating Sales and Marketing systems and software
- Defining goals together
- Finding metrics that can be aligned
- Sharing ownership of objectives and initiatives
- Sharing rewards
The most difficult hurdle in achieving congruity is finding a way to share metrics. It won’t always be difficult, and you will find that with some activities the metrics will naturally integrate. However with some marketing activities the metrics required will be softer and more subjective. In these instances, continued work and development will be required. Remember this is not a quick fix, it’s going to take time to hit that optimum dosage.
3. Customer, Customer, Customer
The saying used to go, location, location, location, and although this still holds true for some high street retailers, in the land of B2B the buzz word is CRM. Everyone needs to acknowledge that Customer is King and it’s up to your business to make sure these customers are kept happy. Tactically positioning both Sales and Marketing as customer centric entities will help align their priorities creating an advantage for your business. Shared communication will reveal where issues lie and shed light on clever ways to problem solve.
Remember, Sales holds a mountain of insight into what customers desire, where there are gaps in your service and what processes are just not working. This kind of information is a Marketer’s dream and, when shared, will help refine your offering and keep your customers coming back for more. In a world where no service or product is truly unique, the relationships you have built with your customers could be your point of triumph (we’ve already covered the importance of lead nurturing in our previous post). This step will not only assist in improving Sales and Marketing’s delicate relationship, but will also put the “R” in CRM with some flair.
4. Management is key
Now, this one is really the clincher. You may have followed steps 1 to 3 and even seen some wonderful results. Perhaps Sales and Marketing are having lunch together? Perhaps you’ve managed to get through a meeting with no finger pointing? Maybe you have even seen the amount of eye rolling and sarcastic comments plummet? But no matter what magnificent improvements you’ve witnessed, you’ll never achieve true enlightenment if management is not fully on board.
It’s easy enough to talk about making changes and even to start with all the good intentions you can garner, but it’s stamina which is required to make this work. You are doomed to fail if management aren’t leading this crusade, armed with perseverance. To align Sales and Marketing requires Senior Management’s full commitment, their motivation and an open approach. If management is on board, and they’re leading by example, you’re set to win this war!
Written by Trilby Rajna, Search Marketing Assistant at Approved Index