Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees. Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. Sales teams vs. Marketing teams. All vicious rivalries in their own right where they can spend many hours squabbling. An Aberdeen Group study claimed that a highly-aligned organisation achieved an average of 32 percent year-on-year revenue growth while less-aligned competitors saw a seven percent decrease.
Okay, that study might be from 2011 but it’s obvious that the more aligned a team is, the better it can aid business performance. Aligning sales and marketing teams is one of the largest opportunities for improving business performance. Here’s everything you need to know.
Sales and marketing alignment can’t happen overnight. It’s likely that both of your teams realise that there’s a need to work together to meet their demands and revenue goals. Although, both sales and marketing teams are notorious for their somewhat complex and frosty relationship because they both have different goals and expectations of each other.
Sales and marketing is really about the customer. Both of your teams need to look at everything they do through the eyes of the customer so that marketing can generate leads for sales so that they can turn it all into revenue.
Or at least that’s how it used to work. With buyers now more in control than ever before, there's an increasing necessity for marketing and sales teams to be more aligned.
Your marketing team needs to know about sales and your sales team needs to know more about marketing so both of them can combine their forces to know more about your customers. For example, sales teams shouldn’t contact leads that have just downloaded one of your eBooks. Doing it the inbound way, your sales team need to make sure that the customer is the right fit before pursuing them to offer help.
What are the Benefits?
Misalignment between your sales and marketing teams can lead to several missed opportunities, multiple duplicate efforts and most importantly, customer frustration. While that’s all down to a failure of collaboration, studies have found that sales and marketing teams working in tandem have resulted in leads and opportunities getting across the finishing line.
Both Teams Understand the Customer Better
In inbound marketing, sales and marketing teams are responsible for attracting, nurturing, delighting and closing deals so both teams need to be on the same page. However, it’s a lot easier to create accurate buyer personas when both teams work as one.
A smooth handoff between marketing and sales is needed and that’s helped when both teams understand what’s most likely to influence buyers at various stages of the buyer’s journey.
By understanding the customer better and sharing ownership of their experience, both teams can help deliver a better buying experience as there’s less confusion.
Better Engagement Between Both Teams
When sales and marketing teams work separately, each team focuses on its own activities, tasks and challenges without paying much attention to the other and focusing on the other side’s goals. This can lead to a lot of confusion for prospects and makes it a lot more challenging to pinpoint exactly where a lead drops off in the buyer’s journey.
Instead, working together like a well-oiled machine allows both teams to launch campaigns that are more impactful by boosting the impacts of their efforts. Leads can be handled a lot better and potential buyers are more impressed when both teams are engaging prospects.
Better and More Qualified Leads
There might be sales teams that are complaining about marketing teams not getting them any leads and marketers complaining that sales team aren’t closing any leads. The issue isn’t so much about the number of leads your teams have to work with, but the quality of them instead.
If both marketing and sales are aligned, then they’re able to establish a strong lead scoring method (which we’ll get on to a little later) through a collaborative process. This removes all of the guesswork from identifying the best and most qualified leads and as a result, much better leads come through a lot quicker and in larger volumes.
Improves Business Productivity
HubSpot has reported that misalignment between both teams costs a staggering $1 trillion a year which is down to 79 percent of leads never converting into sales because of a lack of nurturing. In fact, of the leads that do get passed to sales teams, 73 percent of them are never contacted.
However, aligning sales and marketing can increase business productivity if they share the same goals. Metrics can see a 25 percent increase in quota achievement, a 15 percent increase in win rate and a 27 percent faster three-year growth plan.
Better and Clearer Feedback
Unifying sales and marketing teams establishes a strong relationship. This can then lead on to continued communication through cross-department feedback as an open line of communication creates a better opportunity to further refine strategies down the line.
By doing this, your sales team will feel more comfortable asking the marketing team to adjust the criteria for quality leads and on the flip side, the marketing team can ask the sales team to adjust the way they’re reaching out to prospects. Clear feedback channels make both teams more receptive, they’ll focus on overall goals and they’ll actually begin to like each other.
It might sound like a myth right now if your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned, but the truth is it can actually work and lead to great results.
A Wheelhouse Advisors infographic has shown that by aligning sales and marketing, companies can generate a huge 208 percent increase in marketing revenue. Although, there’s a lot more to suggest that it can actually work.
Companies that have sales and marketing teams tightly aligned achieve 24 percent faster three-year revenue growth and 27 percent faster three-year profit growth.
Sales and Retention
Companies that align their sales and marketing teams enjoy a 36 percent increase in higher customer retention rates and 38 percent higher sales win rates.
When sales and marketing teams are aligned and in complete sync, companies are up to 67 percent better at closing deals. Alignment also works by:
Marketing campaigns can be focused on the most beneficial topics and channels.
Sales teams have a higher volume of well-qualified and sales-ready leads.
Sales teams have the correct quantity of content needed to convince prospects.
Marketing teams can deliver insights that massively improve selling effectiveness.
The metrics and qualitative feedback available allow for continuous improvement of marketing and sales performance.
Overall, alignment between both teams helps you to nail down the best leads possible - as opposed to a lot of bad leads. This way, marketing teams can do their thing to move those prospects along the buyer’s journey and sales teams will know exactly when to pounce on those perfect leads.
Sales and marketing alignment can be tricky because many companies don’t know where to begin and what to do to fully adopt a collaborative approach. Some of the challenges both teams face include:
Marketing teams have no way of knowing whether outdated or off-brand content is being shared and circulated by the sales team.
Marketing teams have no visibility into which content is resonating with prospects through sales teams and which aren’t working at all.
Marketing teams might be wasting valuable time creating one-off pieces of marketing content that won’t be used again which is inefficient.
It’s a big challenge for marketing teams to find out what sales teams are actually sharing and what they find to be the most successful in conversions with prospective customers.
Sales teams might have no choice but to use outdated content, update it themselves or use what they already have.
Marketing teams might create plenty of content but it’s never exactly what sales teams need. So, they’re left to create their own.
Sales teams might have plenty of meetings each week and don’t believe a one-size-fits-all approach works.
Sales teams send marketing content to prospects that they believe prospects will like and will find useful. However, even they have no idea how successful the marketing content is in getting their attention, teaching them about their product or if they viewed it at all.
Luckily, there are several ways to align both sales and marketing teams. It helps them become more efficient, close more leads and provide actionable solutions to challenges both teams still face to this day.
For sales and marketing teams to get the best results, aligning them to achieve the same goals is a good first step. However, the strategy for actually getting there in the first place needs to be defined together.
Lead scoring helps your team focus on high-quality leads and saves a lot of valuable time which would be lost in chasing low-quality leads. When lead scoring is done right, you’ll be able to tell which leads need more marketing materials, if they’re ready to talk to a salesperson, if they should have made a purchase already and more - depending on the score they have been assigned.
With lead scoring, you lose fewer opportunities.
A study from Gartner has shown that 70 percent of leads are lost from poor follow-up. With plenty of leads to analyse, it can be difficult to determine which ones are the most qualified. With lead scoring, you can rank marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales qualified leads (SQLs) so the most valuable leads stand out.
Lead scoring allows for a happier sales team. As they have a smaller pool of qualified leads, they can speed up the sales process by not wasting valuable time on poor leads. By using that time on the most relevant leads and closing sales, they’ll be much happier.
To find out more about how lead scoring can be crucial to sales and marketing alignment, check out this blog.
Set Mutually Agreed Goals and Definitions
Make sure that the goals have been clearly defined for both teams so they know what they’re working towards. For example, think about the processes that can be put in place at each stage. Also, define what actually constitutes a lead or a qualified lead and highlight the key metrics both teams need to focus on.
This way, everyone will know how their goals support each other but remember that the goals should always be aligned and measured by the same metric.
Have sales and marketing teams collaborate and communicate often. For example, host weekly collaboration sessions, discuss product updates to make lives easier for both sides and implement actionable feedback from the sales team on lead quality.
Build a Sense of Connection Between Both Teams
While the results are vital, building a personal connection between both teams is important as well. Celebrate joint wins so that they can develop a sense of shared purpose. Also, consider giving opportunities for marketers to shadow the sales team and the sales team to see what the marketing team get up to.
By doing this, sales and marketing teams will better understand each others’ problems, opportunities and challenges. The better they both understand each other, the more solutions they can come up with to help.
Get Sales Involved in Campaign Planning
Sales teams will know what is and isn’t resonating with prospects and leads. Rather than going through the same cycle again, have the sales team join the campaign planning sessions to get them involved and offer input based on their experience.
This helps to bridge the gap and assist marketers in creating content that has a better chance of succeeding. Also, sales teams will be able to share marketing materials they know will resonate and won’t be outdated which helps to bridge the gap between the pair.
Integrate Sales and Marketing Software
A big obstacle to alignment between sales and marketing teams is that they use disparate systems without the ability to share data. Instead, integrating your software gives your teams a powerful overview of the entire customer lifecycle so that everyone has access to the full picture.
All of this is part of a bigger picture called sales enablement. Sales enablement is the processes, technology and content which empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity.
So, use effective sales enablement software which is driven by data without overwhelming sales teams and hurting productivity. Sales enablement software from HubSpot helps sales teams to make the most of the latest generation sales technology and embrace inbound sales.
Interested in Closing More Deals With Sales Enablement?
Sales enablement is a relatively new concept and not everyone knows the true benefits of aligning both teams and helping sales teams close more deals. To make it much easier to understand, we’ve created a comprehensive eBook about all thing sales enablement to help sales team close more leads.
From the current state of the sales landscape right through to succeeding with sales enablement and tips on how to realign both teams. Grab your free copy and soak up all that useful knowledge by hitting the download button below.
It's not quite ready yet (we're just tying up the loose ends now) but in the meantime, you can join our private Facebook group Inbound After Hours where we'll be discussing all things sales enablement. Click to request access below.