In most companies marketing and sales work in silos, but aligning the two groups is critical for business success! Marketing automation can help open up communication, and you can too – with these simple tips for better sales-marketing alignment.
Opening communication between your sales and marketing teams is a huge opportunity for improving business performance. When the two teams unite around a single revenue cycle, they dramatically improve marketing ROI, sales productivity and your bottom line.
In fact, the benefits are certainly not to be scoffed at:
Improved conversion rate:
Because marketing is delivering sales ready leads
Budgets go further:
Because you’re focusing on the tasks that turn into revenue
Deals progress faster:
Because better opportunities are entering the pipeline
Improved pipeline visibility:
Because everyone on both teams can see what’s coming and what stage each opportunity has reached.
Less wasted opportunities
Because leads get recycled back to marketing if they’re not ready
Unfortunately, for most companies, the departments are still separate silos, with little interaction. But your buyers don’t differentiate between the two departments, so if the service or communications they receive from either isn’t up to par then it’s your whole brand that suffers.
Marketing automation can seriously help but, ultimately, true alignment is about communication. Our simple guide will help you open up that communication – and reap the benefits that come with it…
1. Develop a common vocabulary
Sales and marketing alignment begins with common definitions to make sure you’re communicating effectively.
Consider the following:
Marketing and sales teams may be targeting completely different buyer personas – and they may not even realise.
Get your sales and marketing teams together to compare their profiles, identify where they overlap and where they don’t. You should also compare the profiles against information about your best and worst customers gathered from your marketing automation and CRM systems.
Define what behaviors a lead must exhibit and how leads are put into the CRM.
Sales-qualified lead (SQL)
Salespeople don’t want to waste their time on unqualified leads, and marketers don’t want to send leads to sales that are going to be ignored. Look at your metrics and data and decide together on the behaviours and demographics that are associated with a SQL.
2. Agree on a service level agreement (SLA)
SLAs are essential for holding both teams accountable.
Agree on a set of metrics, then set targets, such as:
- The number of SQL’s to be delivered by the marketing team
- The maximum time for a sales rep to follow up on a SQL
- A time-frame for providing feedback to marketing
3. Establish a closed-loop reporting process
Marketing needs to have a way to follow-up with sales to see how well their leads are performing. This can be a field in the CRM system or a regular call. Just make sure it’s simple.
Closing the loop like this can help fine tune lead generation methods and is an important way to recycle prospects that are not yet sales ready back into marketing for further nurturing.
Focus on questions such as:
- Who receives leads from marketing?
- How will the sales team report rejected leads back to marketing?
4. Create a shared pipeline
Many of the steps that we described above – common definitions, shared metrics, SLAs – are only useful if your company treats its sales and marketing pipeline as a single process.
Marketing automation technology can help you achieve this, by giving your teams greater visibility into how leads move through the pipeline. This includes records of every email, every web page visit, every click-through, and all the information stored in your technology platforms.
This allows each team to fully understand what the other is doing, and how they contribute towards revenue. It also allows your marketing and sales teams to sync their campaigns around common goals.
5. Align goals
Measuring sales and marketing off the same metric is the only way to ensure goals are aligned.
It’s a good idea to measure success based on:
- The number of leads generated
- The number of leads that turn into closed/won business
This allows you to track the number of leads that marketing is passing over, as well as the quality of these leads.
6. Develop an integrated content/messaging strategy
Sales and marketing may rely upon separate sets of content assets.
Some of these assets may be quite valuable but it’s likely that there are gaps where your existing content isn’t suitable for certain nurturing campaigns, buying stages, or prospect profiles.
A comprehensive content audit – figuring out what you’ve got, how it’s used, and where to find it – can help to correct this.
7. Review and refine
Alignment is a continuous process. Sitting down once isn’t enough. Agree on how you’ll follow up on initiatives, track progress, create accountability, and ensure continuous improvement.
How technology helps…
Although it’s not essential to achieve the benefits, technology has made alignment easier than ever before.
Aberdeen’s State of Marketing Report 2015 identifies marketing automation capabilities such as lead generation, lead scoring, and lead nurturing as important drivers of Marketing and Sales alignment in top-performing companies.
- CRM dashboards bring sales and marketing together around common metrics – and track them in real time.
- Social collaboration tools make it easy for sales and marketing teams to work on opportunities together.
- Marketing automation platforms integrate with CRM to create a revenue performance management machine that manages the entire funnel
To read more about sales and marketing alignment download our free 8 Steps To Marketing Automation Success White Paper and see how it fits alongside marketing automation.