Sales and marketing are like brother and sister, or friends who are roommates; at the core they share the same values, but they tend to step on each other’s toes. They know that ultimately they are living under the same roof and need to learn to live with each other regardless of disputes. Along the line, they realize that no matter what, they’ll always need each other. Similarly, the classic sales versus marketing situation is as follows: sales teams complain about marketing not generating enough leads and marketing complains about sales not locking enough deals. Despite the tension between the two teams, they are ultimately essential to each other, and thus it is crucial that they align to achieve company goals.
Consumers are no longer impressed by high-quality products alone. Today it’s about the experience that they have with a brand. Thus this experience from marketing to sales must be seamless. According to Oracle via Aberdeen Research, companies experience an average growth of 20% in revenue with sales-marketing alignment, and a shocking 4% decline without it. Kapost reports that 65% of sales representatives they surveyed said they did not know how to access promotional material. Additionally, 76% of marketers tend to forget about sales enablement when prepping content. So how can your company lower these statistics and bring both your sales and marketing teams together?
One of the most important things is for sales and marketing teams to share a common language. Sounds pretty basic, but across departments and even within them, ‘qualified leads’ or ‘opportunities’ may be used very differently. In fact, only 50% of CSO Insights’ 2014 Sales Performance Optimization Study respondents claimed they had a formal definition of a qualified lead. Without set definitions, team members can’t acquire or contribute accurate information. Sales and marketing teams should set periodic meetings to stay up-to-date with usage of terms and definitions.
These meetings should be a part of an overall initiative to promote better communication between sales and marketing departments. Sales and marketers should be able to communicate fluidly so they can understand each other's needs. Sales representatives have the most direct contact with clients. Thus, they have a strong understanding of your company’s target audience, and such firsthand knowledge can be a huge asset to your marketing team. Marketers are promotional strategists and the curators of flawless content. Once they have insight on their target audience, they know how to take that information and transform content into what will attract clients. This content will help sales representatives win prospective customers. The two might as well be holding hands.
Directors and managers should adopt the latest technologies to improve communication beyond meetings and emails. For example, sales and marketers in retail and CPG can share client information and interactions through field activity management software that allows each team member to log any relevant information about a client. This can include scheduled visits, photo-logging promotional displays, record of promotional demos, replenishment orders, etc. Before walking into a meeting with a client, sales representatives can check client history to view any past interactions with the marketing team and follow up with the client about the status of promotions and sales. Similarly, marketing teams can see what clients are buying in certain stores to implement different promotions and discounts.
After much talk of better and easier communication, both sales and marketing teams must be held accountable of actually following the new standards of communication. Hubspot suggests creating a written agreement. These agreements can be extended out to actual number of sales and leads as well. This way, when either a marketer or sales representative encounters issues, that person can back them up with real numbers and clear expectations.
While it may be difficult to completely eliminate discord amongst sales experts and marketers, by fostering seamless communication and maintaining aligned goals, you company can deliver the best experience to its customers.
Aya Tsuruta is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly where she covers sales and marketing content through a creative lens. In addition to writing for Repsly, she is a frequent contributor to the music blog, Indie Music Filter, and BC magazine, the Gavel.