By Nelson Tan on Oct 23, 2014 9:30:00 AM
One of the key tenets of close collaboration between the Marketing and Sales teams is effective communication. Typically, Sales complains that Marketing isn’t generating enough quality leads, and Marketing criticizes Sales for not working their leads hard enough. But if both teams can mutually "seek to understand first before being understood", a lot of such bickering can be minimized. What substitute in its place are constructive feedback on how things can be done better and purpose-driven discussions on finding new ways and methods to increase leads, sales and revenue.
Given its large size, no company is perfect. Smaller companies are more nimble whereby a few key personnel can get together on schedule or impromptu to discuss marketing and sales status updates. But in large companies, it will take better organization sense to align marketing and sales teams towards common goals.
Typically, to have better organization, ground rules have to be set so that more personnel can be properly involved. These 6 communication tips for building a Smarketing culture should get your teams started working towards synergy.
1. Have regular meetings
Meetings! Not a few people in the corporate world hate these "time-wasting sessions". They drain you out, leave you with insufficient time to do actual work and worst of all, the agenda seems to be going nowhere! The problem with meetings has as much to do with the quality as the quantity. So if you feel that the number of meetings in a work week does not seem to galvanize business development, perhaps it's time to consider what truly important issues should take the bulk of meeting times.
HubSpot, the company that introduces the world Inbound Marketing, has its own unique way of running effective meetings. First of all, the staff modeled themselves internally as a marketing and sales organization, therefore revenue generation matters take precedence in meetings. This narrows the scope of discussion.
At first, meetings were carried out weekly for 30-60 minutes. As the company expanded, the content got too much and monthly meetings were arranged to review targets, results, improvement measures and future plans. A smaller number of staff working as teams still meet weekly. Significantly, HubSpot staff expectedly know what to report or share, with marketers informing salespeople what they have been doing and vice versa. Meetings become more productive, do not drag on, and the lines of communication open up.
2. Multi-layer relationships between Marketing and Sales
Another rule-of-thumb of the corporate world is the acknowledgement of vice-presidents and above as decision-makers. The problem is less senior staff tend to defer issues upwards and wait for further instructions. This results in operation-level delays and bottlenecks.
On the other hand, it is recommended that:
* Marketing VPs speak to Sales VPs
* Marketing managers speak to Sales managers
* Marketing rep speak Sales reps
By empowering staff at all levels to solve their own cross-departmental problems at the source, they can build stronger relationships with one another and function more like a single team.
3. Have Marketing and Sales staff sit together
Traditionally, various departments of a corporation are distinctively and separately situated for reasons of internal culture or protocol. HubSpot took the unusual decision to mix up marketing and sales staff's desks so that both sides have the benefit of seeing first-hand if the marketing activities are actually helping sales or not. Sales also can better understand the type of leads they are getting. Two-way communication is also instant in day-to-day work. Gaining spot-on awareness and understanding of marketing and sales work and the results reaped has helped the staff to become productive and happier.
Today, technological startups and million-dollar dotcom companies like Alibaba are seen to operate in a lean, "open concept" fashion with staff doing away with partitions. Could this signify the doing away of organization hierarchy, operation-wise, in the 21st century?
4. Provide many types of feedback
Feedback does not only happen in weekly and monthly meetings. Feedback can be solicited and exchanged between Marketing and Sales in the following areas on a regular basis:
* The quality of the leads
* The effectiveness of tools, resources and methods
* Relationship with colleagues
* Leads feedback from follow-up
* Demo feedback from prospects
* Performance of each marketer and sales rep
Having a strong feedback culture empowers staff to have a say in overall improvement and decision-making. Final decisions and actions taken may not be agreeable to everyone, but regular feedback builds trust and paves the way for successful marketing and sales communication.
5. Agree on terminology
For communication to flourish, it is crucial for both Marketing and Sales to speak the same lingo. Terms like "lead" or "conversion rate" must be clearly defined so both teams know what kind of persona is the target and what results to aim for. Thereafter, responsibilities and goals are mutually understood and accounted for in regular meetings.
6. Demonstrate proof of data
To HubSpot staff, statistical data is the "sword of truth". It is pointless to critique performance without showing supporting data. There is always a reason why conversion rate is poor or why there is a high number of unsubscriptions. Such data is the main driver for performance review and it provides an opportunity to filter out non-performing marketing and sales strategies. No staff can say anything based on a hunch. Data eliminates heresay, removes emotions and focuses the teams on the real challenges.
* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.