What is sales and marketing alignment?
Traditionally, sales and marketing teams are segmented – they operate in silos. At the top of the funnel, the marketing team works to attract, qualify, and engage prospects. At the bottom of the funnel, the sales team works to lock in the deal. As a lead transitions from the top to the bottom of the funnel, they may never hear from the marketing team again. Worse yet, their experience and the messaging they receive may be inconsistent. Sales teams might struggle to follow through on promises made by the marketing team – promises the sales team knows nothing about.
Sales and marketing alignment (also called smarketing) unites the two teams through shared systems of communication and content generation. It establishes shared goals and strategic objectives, encourages knowledge sharing, and ultimately lifts the company’s bottom line. According to a LinkedIn report, 87 percent of sales and marketing leaders believe collaboration between sales and marketing paves the way for critical business growth.
Marketing and sales alignment is more important than ever. Today’s customer journey isn’t linear, and the sales funnel is no longer a simple, step-by-step progression. Instead, customers engage with brands across several platforms and marketing channels, and these fragmented interactions paint a broader picture of the prospect’s perception of a business.
Points of friction like doubled-up communications and mismatched messages can cost you revenue. But, by uniting sales and marketing teams so all people are across all touchpoints and messaging strategies, your company can deliver a seamless customer experience and win consumers’ dollars.
How does marketing help sales?
In an aligned workplace, marketers guide leads through the early stages of the buyer’s journey, preparing them for hand-off to the sales team. Education, nurturing, lead qualification, razor-sharp messaging, and competitor information are the domains of the marketing team but can also assist sales in the engagement and closing process.
How does sales help marketing?
Salespeople are closer to both the product or service and the customer than marketers, which means they have first-hand knowledge of buyer needs and product features and capabilities. As a result, sales can empower the marketing team with valuable, real-world intel like solution applications, customer pain points, and the market landscape, all of which can inform and optimize marketing initiatives.
Sales and marketing alignment best practices
Agree on shared goals
You don’t want sales and marketing teams pulling in two different directions. Likely, this will result in neither hitting their target nor both underperforming. The first step in sales and marketing alignment is establishing shared goals.
Formalizing this process can help cross-functional teams look beyond their own day-to-day operations and recognize their position in the bigger picture. Staff see how their individual actions affect their colleagues and develop a better appreciation for operational interdependencies.
Finally, create several shared KPIs. Marketers often measure results in terms of general objective metrics like leads generated, for example. In contrast, sales tend to take a more individualistic approach to performance tracking, focusing on meeting their quota or closing out a specific account. While these insights are important, the addition of shared, quantifiable goals can further strengthen collaboration.
Build your strategy – together
Bring the sales and marketing teams together and map your strategy, whether in person or virtually. With insights from both sides, everyone gains a clearer understanding of the market, ideal customer, and the product or service. What’s more, collaborating on strategy secures buy-in and reduces the risk of confusion.
Sales and marketing alignment is really about knowledge sharing, and the easier it is for employees to communicate with colleagues in other departments, the better. There are several factors to think about when shaping cross-team communication:
- Set up a team email alias that lands in both sales and marketing inboxes. You and your employees can use this to relay vital information, share insights, and celebrate wins. Encourage other departments, partners, stakeholders, and external teams to use the email, too.
- Ensure reporting and analysis is easily accessible to both teams. That might mean uploading reports into a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder.
- Consider allowing marketers to shadow sales calls. Like a fly on the wall, marketers gain real-time insights from both the customer and sales rep.
Create shared processes
Your sales team speaks directly with prospects all the time. They know from experience what triggers your ideal customer’s excitement and the questions they need answered before locking down a deal. This is valuable information, but sales reps don’t always have the time to write feedback down and send it to the marketing team.
Overcome this roadblock by creating a shared process. Set expectations, whether that’s an ad-hoc collaboration or structured weekly meetings.
Embrace sales enablement
Sales enablement is a process that gives your sales team the tools, technology, and resources they need to close out more deals.
In the context of sales-marketing alignment, a sales enablement system can connect the dots and ensure both teams are equipped with the knowledge needed to achieve shared goals. Not only does this give sales and marketing teams the space to dedicate their resources to core duties, but it also ensures alignment is upheld long-term.
Align your teams to achieve your goals
When teams are aligned, individual wins raise the collective tide. Conflicts fizzle, and everyone pulls the business toward its goals, whether customer or revenue growth or a new product launch.
Get in contact if you are ready to foster alignment in your organization. Our approach to consulting leverages both marketing and sales perspectives to ignite growth. We can also implement a sales enablement strategy that empowers your team to operate at its peak.