How To Align Marketing With Sales
This is arguably the single most important topic for marketing: how to align with sales. If you are asking if we need to align with sales, go find a new profession. If you think marketing is much more important than sales, update your resume. If you think marketing objectives are about something other than sales, then it’s time to start networking.
Five years into my early sales career, I realized that I was a mildly successful sales person mainly because I focused on relationships, not selling. And…Marketing needed lots of help. So I followed my frustration into a marketing career and have never looked back. In this post I will provide some of the latest thinking along with my own thoughts on how to better align marketing with sales.
This week alone, there have been 3 popular media articles on this issue. In BtoB Magazine, Karen J. Bannan wrote “Creating a true partnership between marketing and sales”. In the article, she offered this call to action for marketing and sales: “Partner or Perish”. She also recapped a CMO Council study:
Sales and marketing—according to the report, which surveyed 506 sales, marketing and channel management professionals online—were more “antagonistic than synergistic” and there was “mistrust, misunderstanding of function, and a lack of alignment and singularity of purpose.
Karen’s singular advice: “Send your marketing folks out with your salespeople”. Similarly, the Harvard Business Review wrote in Why Sales and Marketing Are at Odds — or Even War:
The ongoing conflict between sales and marketing is the “elephant” in the room at many companies. No one wants to talk about the problem until it becomes so disruptive that it must be dealt with.
The author suggests we focus on true Win-Loss analyses to determine what causes us to lose deals and at which stage of the sales cycle. Then work with sales to fill those gaps in content and process.
- Sales is your target audience. Or as I say “Sales is the customer of marketing.” Main tips include going on sales calls and to provide them the “best possible leads (as defined by them)”. One of my most popular posts ever includes the big challenge all marketers face: Marketing Leads: Quality Vs. Quantity.
- Lead Definition and Scoring: where they discuss how to score hot, warm and cold leads and also how a responder to a campaign is not a “lead”.
- Help Them Sell: the reason I moved into marketing started with my frustration regarding our sales collateral and the content on our websites. Websites are store fronts. Are you open for business? Sometimes simple things like user-based navigation, transparent pricing and a comparison against your competition can go a long way in helping prospects gain the insights they need to pick up the phone and speak with a sales rep.
- Gather Sales’ Contacts and Feedback: by offering to clean up their records.
- Gather Sales’ Marketplace Insights: which starts with information gathering and ends with sales validation of any marketing plan.
These are all great tips. I would add that the first meeting for any new marketing person is to sit down with the head of sales and ask “what do you need?” Next, make sure you go on a sales call but I’ll go further to state that marketers should know how to demo products and how to make that 30-second pitch on why customers should chose you and your company.
Let’s start a discussion: what do you think?