Dan Golden CommunityVoice, Forbes Agency Council
Co-founder & President at BFO (Be Found Online), a full-service digital marketing firm, 6-time Inc. 5,000 and AdAge #1 Best Place to Work
Seriously, can’t we all just get along? I mean, with all the tech and communication tools available today, isn’t it time sales and marketing teams got aligned once and for all.
Now, there are a lot of great organizational ideas on how to align sales and marketing teams. For example, combine the teams into a single department, meet regularly and align revenue goals.
This article, however, will focus on specific tactics where marketing can support sales and vice versa. It can be done -- and with simple approaches that create such great, regular successes that are motivational in and of themselves.
An Age-Old Tension And One Business Fact
Recently, I was on the Edge of the Web podcast talking about the working relationship my team sees daily between sales and marketing groups. As we got into the subject, I defaulted to hand puppets to describe the relationship, as you can see:
On the left, marketing says to sales, “You couldn’t close a lead if it bit ya.”
On the right, sales replies, “Your leads are garbage.”
Maybe this sounds familiar. As a marketing agency, we realized we don’t get to spend enough time talking with our clients’ sales teams and that is something we’re working to change. But we do have a sales team of our own, so we understand the challenge -- and how we’ve overcome it.
And that leads to a business fact marketing folks need to remember: Brands don’t win based on leads. Brands win based on sales.
Marketers, you need sales. After all, wouldn’t you rather have a $500 lead that converts at 15% than a $50 lead that converts at .15%?
So, let’s align these incentives already, because sales, you need marketing, too. Here are a few ways your teams can work together to bridge this age-old gap.
Sales: Make Your Job Easier And Help Marketing
Salespeople get something each day that every marketing effort strives for: direct customer feedback.
Sales, you hear it all the time, so it may not seem like much, but what customers and prospects share with you is marketing gold. That’s right, you’re sitting on a gold mine. So, when you’re with your prospects and customers, keep asking those great questions. Then, share those answers with the marketing team! Marketers will turn them into tools you can use to overcome objections and shorten the sales process.
Here are a few other ways to help the marketing team and make your job easier:
• Use your customer relationship management (CRM) software religiously. Collect and record everything. The effort you invest today will turn into cash in your pocket tomorrow.
• Ask your prospects deeper questions about which marketing channels truly influenced their interest. This anecdotal information can be very helpful for your marketing team.
• Coordinate your attacks. Focus sales efforts so they align with marketing campaigns. This way, you’ve always got back up. Account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns are all about aligning marketing and sales to target specific accounts. Wouldn’t you rather cold call or email a prospect who has seen a half dozen LinkedIn and Facebook posts from your company over the last 30 days?
• Tell marketing about your biggest roadblocks. You don’t have to solve every problem you face. Marketing is there to help. Every big roadblock is just an opportunity to excel, which means more money in your paycheck.
• Give constructive feedback. If the leads really are garbage, and they can be, then share in great detail your experience with a lead and what the lead’s expectations really were. This feedback gives marketers what they need to tweak the ads to connect with more highly qualified leads or the messaging to disqualify the bad leads.
Marketing: Focus On Sales
Marketers may not do the actual selling, but their eyes should always be focused on what they can do to help close more sales. (So should every employee in the organization, but that’s a different article.) Yes, even for marketers, the mantra should be ABC: always be closing.
Here’s what marketers can do:
• Use sales reinforcement campaigns. For a lot of marketing efforts, especially business-to-business, success is measured by how many leads they drive. This approach creates a disconnect.
Where’s the incentive for marketing to keep messaging prospects after they’ve submitted an email form? Marketing should align their success with sales and leverage campaigns like those highly targeted paid social and ABM to keep the brand top of mind with prospects. A well-executed strategy can play a pivotal role in reinforcing sales messaging.
• Tag everything. Businesses with a long sales cycle can really benefit from this one! Integrate marketing data into the sales process to provide marketers with critical data to find the most highly qualified leads. Brands that have both teams on the same platform, like HubSpot or Infusionsoft, may already have integrations built in. But regardless of whether you have them natively or not, always look for more ways to connect data. The more data points you have, the more insight you can glean to drive sales.
There’s no “i” in team. But there is an “i” in marketing, and it stands for integration. Digital makes it easier than ever for salespeople and marketers to integrate their efforts, their data and their goals. When they do, the success and corresponding rewards will lift brands and the individual team members to unbelievable levels of success. Don’t believe it? You won’t know until you give it a try!