For over 30-years I’ve worked for and consulted with businesses where sales and marketing teams don’t exactly work together like a well-oiled machine.
However, when I have seen them working on the same page and supporting each other, it’s like an ice-cream sundae with warm chocolate syrup on top. Mmm…mmm. When they are facing in opposite directions, it usually is indicative of missed sales opportunities, poor communication, marketing initiatives that aren’t fully functioning and unproductive work environments. Now, who in the world wants this?
Let’s get this misalignment turned around.
Since I’m a career marketer, we’re going to start there. The role of marketers is to fully understand all the key factors and implications of how to reach the primary buyer throughout the entire buyers’ journey. This also includes nurturing, educating and influencing all leads, which if done correctly should translate into quality leads that result in conversation ready leads.
Marketers take a look at what you’re good at in your work and help the sales team to understand what these things are and why they are important. For instance, this might be looking at digital metrics and spotting trends that communicate a pivot in email marketing is needed. By telling sales this, they will have a deeper understanding of why you are doing this and how it impacts them. After all, they must be able to take the hand-off successfully and with as much information in-hand as possible.
Sales, now it’s your turn. Take a look at what you’re good at in your work. This shouldn’t be hard for you because you’re in sales and you like to talk and brag. For instance, your strength might be talking to a prospect and earning their trust through personal one-on-one interactions. If you’re faced with a lead that isn’t quite sure they want to do business with you, you’re good at turning them around and bringing them on-board as a client. Tell marketing how you do this. They need to know your strengths. Then, when the folks in marketing are working directly with you, they will be able to make adjustments to your sales enablement material that will be helpful the next time you’re in front of a prospect trying to turn them around.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP):
We all know this is one of those things that may never be 100% agreed-upon. However, it must be defined clearly and broadly so both marketing and sales teams grasp it and act on the information it provides. Once the ICP is defined, how you communicate this is paramount and all teams must be 100% on-board with what each of your ICPs reveal. From experience, I can say resoundingly that creating this information-rich document should not be emailed with a list of how-tos attached. It will be dismissed within seconds. Now you’re back to square one.
Try this. Schedule in-person sessions where the marketing team can explain the details behind how you get this information and why you feel your ICP is what it is. Then let the sales teams talk and rant. You want to hear their feedback. This is one way to get boots on the ground information otherwise lost. Now take both the ICP and the credible sales team feedback and create a final ICP set. One thing that must be discussed is how your ICPs are shifting in behavior. As Gen Z and Millennials are maturing and moving into corporate management positions, their habits are coming with them and that means the modern buyer has never been more relevant than today.
Ask the Sales and Marketing Teams Three Questions:
- What do your modern buyer behavioral traits look like?
- What is the customer experience your modern buyer expects when they interact with your business?
- How will your marketing and sales teams meet them and engage with the modern buyer to earn their business?
Both marketing and sales teams must have a clear and shared understanding of the ICPs and the answers to these questions for both to be aligned and effective.
Where Are You Not Aligned?
One of the best things to do first to figure out how to improve your alignment is to identify where you are not aligned. Look for areas that are not functioning well and need attention. These areas are especially important when both sales and marketing are relying on the same information or process to succeed. ICPs are one area.
Another is having a clear understanding of your competition and what they are offering you are not. Additionally, what creates the most friction between sales and marketing teams the most is mistrust. If sales professionals don’t believe marketing is creating campaigns correctly or is marketing believes sales can’t communicate well in certain situations… both of these create discord and misalignment. Look for those areas, bring them to the surface and discuss them immediately. They are like having a flat tire on your car that hinders progress.
Create Momentum with Support
You know sales and marketing alignment is running well when it feels and looks like a family that helps each other. When someone needs assistance, offer to help, provide encouragement or assist by providing an idea for solving the problem. This brings teams together and also brings out the best in the employees. It can also create a sense of momentum that can kick-start a program that needs support.
This is normally called teamwork; however, it can also be called collaboration. Either way, be the helper, not the hinderer and your alignment will soon be the talk of the company.
Scott MacFarland is a lifelong marketer with a passion for content, marketing, digital, social, web, video, analytics, and all things that lead to successful conversions. Scott is currently the Director of Marketing for HMY Yachts in Jupiter, Florida.
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Photo Credit: Pexels.com – Rhiannon Stone – CC0 License