Let’s be honest, the line separating most sales and marketing teams is more like the Great Wall of China than a line in the sand. The process of working together can be a difficult, almost impossible task, and most organizations don’t do it well. As a result, many marketing leads fall into a big black hole where sales may or may not follow up on them. This process is not only broken, it is extremely costly to organizations both in terms of marketing resources and lost opportunities. The following series of blog posts will walk you step by step through ways to achieve better marketing and sales alignment, starting with the crucial first element, communication.
Schedule Monthly Meetings
Whether your sales and marketing teams are in the same location, or scattered throughout the globe, getting everyone together is essential. This will give you an opportunity to facilitate discussion and field questions from participants on both sides. Ideally, this monthly meeting should be an open forum with guided discussion on what is working, what isn’t, and what is coming in the future.
Ask the following questions of your sales team:
Where did most of your customers come from last month?
What were the quality of the leads you received?
What sources delivered the best quality leads?
What sales resources did you use the most?
What can marketing give you that would help you close more deals?
Is there anything prospects and customers are asking you for regularly that you don’t have?
Asking these questions on a regular basis will help get sales and marketing on the same page about where the best leads are coming from and which ones are closing. This information is essential for marketing to determine how to allocate time and resources to encourage more quality leads.
Prove Your Value
In sales, time really is money, so time-saving tools are instantly valued and appreciated. Consider what you can give sales that they can pass on to prospects to answer the most frequently-asked questions. Ask your sales team the top 10 questions they get asked--including the ones they know come from unqualified prospects. If you can given them easy-to-share materials that address the right questions, you have saved them time. Don’t discount helping your sales team weed through unqualified leads, allowing them to spend their time on more valuable prospects.
Sales teams understand quotas. They live by them. Many salespeople, however, resent that marketing is not held to the same standard of accountability. This is where a Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA) can come in handy. An SLA defines clear goals for both sales and marketing upon which everyone agrees, and to which everyone is held accountable. For marketing, the goals can be number of leads, number of qualified leads, and revenue pipeline. On the sales side, the goals should focus on sales activity after marketing does their part, such as following up on leads provided. An SLA aligns your sales and marketing teams around common and familiar goals and provides a roadmap for all activities and discussions moving forward.
The first step to improving marketing and sales alignment is to simply get the conversation started. When executed correctly, showing the proper respect due to each team, your sales and marketing teams will begin operating together like cogs in a well-oiled machine, making everyone more successful. Continue reading Step 2 of How to Achieve Better Marketing and Sales Alignment to learn how to create an SLA and hold both teams accountable.