By Nelson Tan on Oct 20, 2014 9:30:00 AM
Marketing and Sales teams may seem like strange bedfellows: having distinctively different roles but can't do without each other, but the truth is both teams are mutually dependent and marketers and salespeople can integrate their work and culture seamlessly together.
Any perceived barriers between Marketing and Sales that arise is a result of inaction on the part of department heads to lead the initiative of understanding each other's work. It takes time and effort, but the benefits are tangible. HubSpot had stated that “organizations with good alignment between sales and marketing teams achieve 20% more revenue growth on average annually.”
With the larger picture of revenue increase in mind, we present 6 strategies you can apply to foster a Smarketing relationship that works.
Yup, it all starts with talking to each other first. Communication is the building block to trust and teamwork and ensuring that both teams know what common goals to work towards. When messages become clear internally, they will be similarly conveyed externally to prospects and customers, thereby making them happy and benefiting all sides.
For a start, Marketing and Sales can arrange flexible networking sessions to get acquainted with each other. At a later time, they can conduct weekly or monthly meetings to talk strategies and review targets. Effective communication helps both teams understand how they can improve and reach their goals in tandem and as separate departments.
One innovative initiative is to get both sides of personnel to form small teams to compete against one another and reward the best performers.
2. Set common goals.
Goal-setting has to be one of the key agendas of meetings between Marketing and Sales. When goals are clearly defined, with real and attainable numbers, within a set period of time, both teams will know what the goals are and come together to determine the best course of action to work towards them.
Having goals also promotes transparency and makes the post-analysis part easier. If targets are missed, either side can report and tally actual results against targets, learn from mistakes and find ways to improve the end-to-end lead generation, nurturing and conversion process, therefore it is a very good way to keep Marketing and Sales aligned together.
The goals can be included in an SLA (see point 6).
3. Collaborate to design an agreeable buyer persona.
One of the most prevalent cause of friction between Marketing and Sales is the poor quality of leads. While Marketing may accuse Sales of not doing enough to convert the leads well, Sales in turn would accuse Marketing for not generating the best type of leads.
To mitigate this problem, both sides must take some time to come together to define and review their buyer personas according to the personas' pain points, aspirations and compelling key messages that will attract them to your business.
Consider questions like:
* Where do quality leads come from?
* What are they looking for?
* What topics interest them?
More questions can be found in this blog post: Discover 5 Powerful Methods For Designing Your Buyer Persona
4. Determine the content that actually drives and converts leads into sales.
Within Inbound Marketing* context, content is the marketers' most valuable asset, and is the key to attracting and nurturing new visitors. Of course, the quality and relevancy of content creation must be constantly reviewed and tweaked to cater to the desired buyer persona.
How would marketers know certain content needs to be tweaked accordingly? By talking to salespeople! They are the ones who will provide direct feedback right from the source: the leads. They are the ones speaking with the leads on a daily basis, so they will know if the leads have already formed a mental picture of how the company can offer the right solutions to help them. If there is a prolonged mismatch of expectations over a number of face-to-face consultations, it becomes obvious that the leads are not properly qualified, thus marketers need the necessary feedback to fine-tune the content or lead nurturing process.
5. Seamless data sharing via software
Ideally, the best way to generate and analyze marketing and sales data is to integrate the software that each team uses so there is a seamless handoff of leads and shared data. The more visibility each team has into the other’s activities, the more that you will not only strengthen the Smarketing relationship, but also help keep overall efforts aligned.
Sales can see how leads are generated through which effective channels and therefore contribute more ideas for lead generation and improvement which Marketing may not thought of.
On the other hand, Marketing can see the conversion results of the leads handed to Sales so marketers can seek improvement in lead generation or the buying process.
6. Develop a Service-Level Agreement (SLA)
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between your marketing and sales team which clearly states what each team is responsible for and the numbers they need to hit to meet the overall goals. Both teams contribute individual goals, and together, you’re able to track how your Smarketing team is performing. It alleviates tension, breaks barriers and promotes the collaboration necessary for this relationship to function harmoniously.
Essentially, these are the types of things to be stated in an SLA for each team:
- Total sales goal in terms of revenue quota
- % revenue that comes from marketing- vs. sales-generated leads
- Average sales deal size
- Average lead to customer close %
- The speed of follow-up for marketing-generated leads
- The depth of follow-up for marketing-generated leads
As time goes, the SLA needs to be continually monitored, adjusted and reported back on. An SLA helps both teams to see the value that each department brings to the table. They can see how each team is contributing and will be more willing to work together to achieve those goals.
With these 6 hallmarks in mind, think of how powerful your business could become if you embraced and integrated a unified marketing and sales team! A successful company collaborates and works together as an entire team.
Sure, you may have separate roles and departments, but ultimately you have one goal: to produce real business results. When the expertise of both Marketing and Sales teams align, the potential is endless.
* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.