Tips for Integrating Marketing and Sales Teams

sales marketing alignment

Having been in the industry for 20 some years now, I get pretty tired of the sales and marketing squabbles. More than ever, marketing is generating new business and sales teams are doing a good job at marketing – so why is there such an animosity between these two groups?

Because of the tension, I do a lot of consulting on helping to integrate sales and marketing teams so that they work better together. Here are a couple of tips to help smooth out the path towards integration.

Create a Shared Goal

Do you make your sales people operate with sales goals, but allow your marketing team to operate without any? Probably not, right – but if you ask your sales team, they might think you do.

Another way of saying this is that sales and marketing rarely know each other’s goals. This is the number one sign for me that there is no marketing and sales alignment.

The simplest way to align to opposing forces is to unite their focus against one common common enemy. Rather than spending energy fighting each other, they can spend energy beating the goal together. This is why I am a huge proponent of a shared goal scorecard.

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A scorecard is a collection of leading indicators both teams share that includes marketing metrics and sales metrics. It may include website visits, email opens, PPC clicks – all of the metrics that marketing uses to generate traffic and interest. It could also include number of cold calls, number of appointments, number of emails sent – all of the metrics that are tracked by the sales team to help build the closing end of the funnel.

Once the numbers are on the table, the teams can begin to understand and see how each number impacts the others, and how they all ultimately impact the goal. For example, if we see that PPC (Pay-Per-Click) leads typically close at a higher rate, this allows the marketing team to focus their energy and dollars on this high value channel. Conversely, if we see the sales team spending lots of time making cold calls with little results, the marketing department might be able to help automate this touchpoint with a tactic like account-based marketing.

It’s only through creating alignment and shared goals that ideas like these can be generated.

Cross Them Over

This is more of an experiential idea than a tried-and-true method for generating sales, but one of the challenges we typically see is that one team doesn’t “understand” the challenges the other team faces.

A simple solution is to have that team “ride” with the other team.

Bringing a member from the marketing team to a sales meeting is a great idea. It lets them experience firsthand the challenges and conversations that are happening with clients. The same thing holds true with the sales team: have them sit in the marketing meetings or having them look over the stats and try to manage a campaign on their own, so they can see the challenges and dynamics involved with reaching new people online.

It’s a simple tactic – but highly effective for the stubborn folks in the group.

Promote Brand as Everyone’s Problem to Solve.

The word “brand” is a horrible word. The reason – ask five different people and you will get five different opinions on what “brand” means. Even worse, ask five different branding agencies what brand it is and you’ll still get five different answers. But rather than trying to solve the deeper issues with brand definition, I’ve found that the better solution is to make brand everyone’s concern.

Here’s what I mean by this: pull sales, marketing, and operations teams into one conversation around what the brand of your business is in the marketplace. It will involve the way we talk to clients, it will involve the colors and fonts, and it will involve the way you do customer service.

It involves so much about the experience of engaging with your company. And they’re all correct.

Yet until there’s a shared dialogue around this, brand will necessarily be limited and inconsistent. Frustrations can develop around improper brand communication, use, and the message going out in the marketplace. Coming to some agreement – even if it’s a rough working document – around the brand of your company is great way to create alignment.

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Brand clarity can allow the entire company to move forward with one unified voice.

Decapitate the Hydra

The Hydra, from Greek mythology, is a multi-headed beast that roamed the ocean – but even though it had multiple heads, it didn’t contradict itself or create silos that made action inconsistent. It was ultimately one, united creature.

Yet in organizations like yours, having a separate head of marketing and a VP of sales fully cements the silos in your organization. To fight this, I am a big advocate of a revenue team or a comprehensive sales and marketing alignment under one leader. Some companies call it a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) some just call it a VP of Marketing and Sales. However you name it, aligning both functions under your one leader has done more for this cause than any other move in the playbook.

The reason is actually very simple.

Having one leader means that the decision maker must consider all factors in solving the revenue picture. Without this alignment, marketing and sales can have standoffs that blast board meetings and kill productive internal time through internal squabbling and priority hoarding. Aligning them under one leader allows that leader to create single decisions that encompass all interests.

Yet before you start pulling the trigger on this idea, let me throw out two warnings. First, don’t just go slapping a new title on your director of sales. The person in this director role needs to understand and appreciate both teams equally. We’ve seen directors of marketing and sales who were really just sales guys, and so they completely undervalue marketing’s role. We never see CMO’s becoming directors because, honestly, many CMO are in the dark about how to actually make a deal happen.

Overall, though, there needs to be one role with a deeper understanding so that sales and marketing can come together to reach unified goals.

Conclusion

I hope these tips of been helpful and that they spur on some ideas as you look to align your marketing and sales efforts. It’s a competitive jungle out there, and you gotta make the most happen with what you’ve got. Both teams need to row together in the same direction to make it work. Good luck.

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