Achieving sales and marketing alignment makes your business grow faster, it allows you to close business more effectively and keep more customers. Misalignment is a common topic of conversation we have when we speak to sales and marketing managers about their major challenges. Each typically points fingers at the other.
But how does one go about remedying such a situation? How does one genuinely build a really aligned sales and marketing team? What are the practical steps to achieving this? Here are some ideas extracted from our own engagements with clients.
Build functional communications
Build common and shared goals such as growth and revenue targets. Consider introducing mutual incentives for both teams to succeed in achieving these same goals. The sales and marketing teams need to communicate and at all levels, not just the department heads but throughout the teams. Set a time to meet weekly to discuss initiatives, what's working what's not, be open, honest and non defensive, focus on constructive behaviours. Involve both sales and marketing on initiatives and projects. Agree on what terminology you use together as a team, what do we really mean by sales qualified lead or marketing qualified lead. Try and use objective data sources to analyse trends try and minimise subjective intuition based opinions. Consider mingling the desks for the sales and marketing teams.
Establish Service Level agreements (SLAs)
Build a shared understanding of your end to end funnel metrics. How many leads do you need at the top of the funnel through each of the purchasing stages, to the number of final customers? Building a mutual understanding of what is required to be successful is key in creating real alignment. Use your funnel metrics to build service level agreements between sales and marketing. Define how many and what quality of leads are required per time period from marketing to sales. Define how quickly and how often sales will follow up a sales qualified lead. Build a mutual understanding through these metrics of the degree of work and commitment is required by each team.
Grading and filtering leads
Use real data to grade and filter your leads. Understand what results your marketing efforts have yielded. Use both demographic (size, job role etc) and behavioural (article download vs request for price list or request for a demo). Use modern automated marketing software to assist you in building this understanding. It's not expensive and really is a "must".
Grow the top of the funnel.
If one assumes that 20-30% of people either leave or move job in any given year you need to be adding more than that to the top of your funnel every year just to stand still...and who wants to stand still! As long as you have an effective method got grading and filtering leads, then adding as many leads as possible to your funnel isn't too much of an issue. How? By publishing quality content as frequently as you can. Many have said modern marketing departments are more akin to Publishers than advertisers and this is very true. To be considered quality content it must be content that resonates with your target audience, content that creates pause for thought, content that troubles them and speaks to their problems and challenges. Be sure you understand what issues your target audience is facing.
Recycle premature leads
One of the most powerful and practical tactics of successful lead nurturing is to build a formal recycling tactic into your go to market plan, that if a lead is not ready to buy yet that there is a formal handing over of this contact by sales to marketing to continue to nurture them to a point they are ready to re engage. Spend time with your sales and marketing team defining this recycling tactic and ensure its working by regularly revisiting the process you have established. Ask yourself what else can be done.
"B2B marketing is a science not an art." And "If you can't measure it you can't improve it." Clichés perhaps, but very true. By tracking how your prospects originally found you, what is was that interested them sufficiently that they became leads, where they visited your site, what content they downloaded you will build a clearer picture of those channels and tactics that yield the best results for you.
I hope these extracts from our client engagements has been useful. I would love to hear your own about your own experiences about what has and has not worked in your attempts to build an aligned sales and marketing team. If you would like to hear more about how we help firms achieve real lasting impactful alignment please check out our Funnel Camp and Funnel Coach solutions, or drop me a line at email@example.com