How to improve cooperation between sales and marketing

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How to improve cooperation between sales and marketing

In a typical small business situation, it’s very common for the same people to perform the sales and marketing duties. Often it’s a single person that’s in charge of both. This isn’t ideal though. As soon as a business grows and can afford more staff, businesses have the option of setting up separate sales and marketing teams. That’s the smart road to take. Too bad it’s also a bumpy one.

Friction between sales and marketing teams is something that every sales and every marketing professional will have to deal with in their career. Often enough, the word “friction” doesn’t do justice to how broken relationships between sales and marketing can get.

About 30% of sales leaders agree that ‘marketing doesn’t measure anything important’ and nearly just as many believe they could do a better job at marketing than their cohorts. Additionally, marketing had the same quips about sales, with 34% believing that salespeople are ‘single-celled organisms who only look for revenue’, with a quarter believing they would be better at selling than salespeople.

What happens when sales and marketing align

When sales and marketing teams come together, businesses have a strong base for success. When their teams are on the same page, their customer retention rates jump by 36%. The sales success rates jump by 38%.

And that’s not all — alignment leads to 67% improvement in the probability of closing marketing-generated leads. The lead acceptance rates double, and marketing-generated leads triple in their contribution to the business’ revenue. It really pays off to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.

Step 1 — Understanding the problem

Before fixing the problem, you must identify the root of the problems. To do that, business owners first need to address the internal team issues and then work on the relationship issues. By working to fix the problems in this order, you may discover some indicators that the current sales strategy isn’t working. It also might become obvious that the marketing team has issues adopting the latest marketing technologies.

These are valid problems. In the context of building a relationship, however, they are not the focus. The main cause of poor sales and marketing alignment are communication, broken processes, measurement, and lack of accurate data.

When you dive deeper, the top things sales needs from marketing are better leads (and more of them), better information, and an increase in brand awareness. In return, marketing wants sales to improve time-to-lead follow-up, use CRM systems consistently, and provide feedback on campaigns.

The sales teams’ complaints are more focused on the marketing teams’ performance. Marketing teams tend to criticize the lack of communication from the sales team.

Managing expectations

It’s very important that the members of each team have realistic expectations. When the sales team says it wants a better quality leads, the person managing the process needs to understand that they don’t expect the marketing team to deliver leads immediately. And when the marketing team says it wants feedback on the campaigns, they shouldn’t expect the sales team to do their campaign analysis for them.

Everybody needs to know their place in the process. Process improvement is one of the things that help create better alignment between the two teams. But the takeaway here is that teams should have a clear understanding of each others roles and not expect the other team to do their jobs for them.

Establishing cross-team lead metrics

Let’s start with performance. When sales and marketing teams can’t agree on the quality of a lead, it’s no wonder they can’t work well together. The “what gets measured gets managed” mantra that’s powering every facet of business today only works if the measurement units are consistent. When sales and marketing teams don’t have a common set of metrics, they can’t communicate efficiently, even if they want to.

One of the things that can improve collaboration is to make sure they agree on assessing the quality of the leads. Both teams need to coordinate and determine which metrics are used to measure a lead. The metrics that are the most useful include demographics, their relative position in the funnel, their interest, engagement, and activity.

The goal is to create a scale that would make it easy for the marketing team to designate the lead as a marketing qualified lead and push it to the sales team. The sales team would then work the lead until they deem it a sales qualified lead.

This will take some time, but it’s necessary to crunch all the numbers and work the mutual dynamics to achieve alignment. However, the sales and marketing teams should be highly motivated to do their part. If the profitability of the business is at stake, so are the jobs of the team members.

Communication improvement

Improving communication is the next step. There are several areas businesses can work on that should lead to better communication between the two teams. Arranging for communication training can improve the efficiency of communication. It works best when the problem lies in the teams’ inability to express their thoughts and needs.

Establishing protocols for reporting will help remove uncertainty and provide clear guidelines and roles for the teams to follow. Minimizing the number of communication channels will make the communication less scattered and easier. Whatever channels you choose to implement, the person choosing the solution needs to understand where the communication problem lies.

Building processes around common activities

Two big areas where sales and marketing teams need to work closely together are content creation and developing buyer personas. Incorporating areas of cooperation in the workflow will ensure both teams are on the same page when it comes to their shared duties.

Reporting is an important part of any process, and it’s equally a communication and a workflow issue. Establishing what, when, and how data should appear in a report will help teams know what information they will get and when, as well as the feedback they need to deliver.

Analysis of the results is another arena the teams should work on together. There are plenty of crossover activities the teams need to perform. Creating a workflow around them will make the teams communicate more, and it will improve their cohesiveness.

Businesses also have a choice of the regular techniques that are used to build cooperation in the workplace. Doing out-of-office activities together, going on team-building exercises, and developing a workplace culture that fosters collaboration can be effective.

However, businesses should always put emphasis on covering the basics. The first step is to ensure the sales and the marketing teams have a common way of measuring the quality of their leads. The second is working out the issues preventing efficient communication. And building work processes around the activities where teams can support one another is the final step in achieving harmony.

Tell us below, what are your tips for achieving true sales and marketing alignment? 

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