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Best Practice for Aligning Sales & Marketing

posted on: 25 Jun 2018

The sales and marketing function is one of the most important functions in an organisation due to its focus on building, maintaining, and enhancing relationships with customers. While both functions serve as the interface of the organisation with its customers, both have their own purpose:

  • Sales exists to make sales
  • Marketing exists to make the sales process easier so the company can make more sales

At the heart of any business, is its desire to sell. Optimising a business’s selling capacity relies on its ability to adopt various processes and practices – formally and informally – to ensure that knowledge within the organisation is created, captured, shared and utilised in an effective manner. The sales and marketing function need to be interdependent and dynamic so that the business can succeed. Below, we provide some tips to ensure that your sales and marketing function are working succinctly, delivering maximum value for your business and its customers.

  • Why some businesses find it really hard to get sales and marketing teams working cohesively 
  • How communication with sales and marketing strategies will deliver the best value to customers, and presents the most opportunity for your business
  • Ensuring both marketing and sales consultants/agencies understand where and how to focus their efforts and how to maximise activities on both sides of the business for maximum results

Regardless of how, marketing will often create “leads” that sales will pursue and try to convert. Unfortunately, that’s often where the relationship between the two departments ends. Perhaps, this can be attributed to the underlying belief that marketers are out of touch with what’s really going on with customers. Conversely, marketing believes the sales force is myopic—too focused on individual customer experiences, insufficiently aware of the larger market, and blind to the future. In short, each group often undervalues the other’s contributions. However, fortunately for us, the research is clear, highlighting the positive effects on corporate performance when businesses achieve alignment in their sales and marketing function. The Harvard Business Review states that; 

“When Sales and Marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.”

Clearly, the benefits gained through alignment are worth the costs of overcoming the obstacles that prohibit alignment. A survey by Demand Gen found that the three biggest obstacles to sales and marketing alignment were:

  1. Communication (49%)
  2. Broken and/or flawed processes (42%)
  3. Working towards different metrics (40%)

Communication serves as a tool for alignment, it is an enabler that assists the two departments to understand what the other requires. In the Demand Gen survey, they asked sales people what they need most from marketing. The responses are as follows:

  • Lead quality (55%)
  • Lead quantity (44%)
  • Competitive information (39%)
  • Brand awareness (37%)
  • Lead nurturing (37%)

 The same question was posed to marketing people, their responses are below:

  • Better follow-up (34%)
  • Consistent use of CRM systems (32%)
  • Feedback on campaigns (15%)
  • Use messaging & tools provided by marketing (13%)

Therefore, it is crucial that your business employs processes that facilitate communication between the two departments. Ineffective communication doesn’t just hamper performance and inhibit alignment, it fuels the major challenges reported by each departments. Furthermore, without strong communication between both teams, broken processes and disconnected metrics become an even larger issue.

While the gap between marketing and sales remains a challenge, companies who have adopted a “shared funnel” approach are better equipped to address some of the underlying tension between the two departments. The approach demonstrates strength in four key areas that are foundational to alignment:

  • Communication skills
  • Common pipeline measurement
  • Adherence to lead quality, and;
  • Data enrichment to drive successful prospecting

This cooperative approach prioritises alignment and the benefits that come through shared information, collaboration, and unified pursuit. A strong and collaboration based marketing and sales function can increase a firm’s potential to convert leads as well as increase the number of wins from marketing-sourced leads. By implementing aligned processes that favour the areas listed above, your business can scale its marketing efforts and make a bigger impact on revenue.

Not every company will want to—or should—upgrade from defined to aligned relationships or from aligned to integrated relationships. But every company can and should improve the relationship between Sales and Marketing. Research shows that marketing and sales create more value for business when they interdepend on the other. They will help your company marry softer, relationship-building skills with harder, analytic skills. More importantly, these improvements will boost both your top-line and bottom-line growth. If you’re interested in finding out more about the benefits of sales and marketing alignment, get in contact with us. At Affinity Marketing, we think very seriously about implementing sales strategies that enhance marketing activities for our clients, and vice versa.