11 Ways Marketers Can Improve Their Relationship with Sales
March 9, 2016
By Aaron Riddle
With most small organizations to large enterprise businesses, there’s a notion of having your sales and marketing teams aligned better to achieve more results. While that’s all fun and dandy from the executive side, down in the trenches there are usually major gaps that occur between marketing and sales.
What are some ways that marketers can improve their relationship with sales? Here’s 11 ways to help get you started within your organization:
1.) Align Sales Goals with Marketing Efforts (or Vice-Versa)
One of the most important ways to getting your sales and marketing on the same page is better aligning your departmental goals together. While this seems easy in theory, this can take some time to develop. Sales usually has individual quotas they have to meet, so marketing efforts can be put to the wayside.
Have your executive team establish goals that are better aligned with both marketing and sales. This can be revenue from specific channels, demo submissions turning into opportunities or potentially increasing click-through rates in follow-up emails.
With marketing and sales contributing to each of these goals, there’s an increased awareness to better align efforts and work together to achieve your organizational goals.
2.) Have a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) in Place
An SLA, while used in most organizations more of a customer>client situation, having an SLA in place between your marketing and sales teams can be very beneficial to getting both departments on the same page. Make sure your SLA has joint goals that require efforts from both marketing and sales for an increased awareness from both departments to work together and succeed.
Here are some quick examples of some things to add to your SLA:
- Time for sales to follow-up post demo/trial submissions (15 minutes, etc…)
- Revenue generated from marketing vs. sales-generated leads
- Lead to customer close percentage
Keep in mind that sales cycles can be different potentially for each sales rep depending on who they are focused on, so try to establish rules that can encompass all of your reps.
3.) Agree to Clear and Concise Marketing Qualified (MQL) and Sales Qualified (SQL) Definitions
Have you ever been in a conversation with sales and the definition of the leads you are bringing to them is being skewed or not relevant? This is a common occurrence around organizations just getting started with Inbound Marketing. Forty percent of organizations have yet to define these rules and criteria.
Take some time to put definitions and criteria to your leads, MQLs and SQLs. By having these clearly defined across the board, you can have more engaging conversations towards improving marketing’s numbers and bringing better leads to sales.
4.) Bring Sales Into the Conversation of Your Buyer Personas
Sales is constantly communicating to prospects on a daily basis and can be great resources for feedback on your current personas and possibly identify gaps in creating new ones.
Set some time aside for sales to communicate this feedback and give them insight into what your current target personas are. By having this on the same page between both departments, you can align offers and conversations more appropriately to your personas and where they are at in the buying cycle, helping both sales and marketing in the process.
5.) Find a Way to Collaborate Regularly
While marketing and sales are both busy with their own day-to-day processes, it’s always great to set aside some time for the teams to meet and discuss how we can improve each other’s processes and efforts.
Here’s a couple of tips to making sure these collaboration sessions are useful to both marketing and sales:
- Have an agenda in place before the meeting. This will help with productivity and keeping the meeting concise and on point.
- Set up Weekly and Monthly meetings to look at each department’s important metrics, how each department can help to get them back on track if falling behind and discuss potential campaign ideas and offers.
6.) Have a Place to CoordinateCreate an opportunity to share information with both parties. This is can be as easy as utilizing a current internal system, chat client with marketing and sales only, or a feedback-specific email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s helpful to have all of this information in one place for both sales and marketing to review periodically to bring to the forefront in future meetings.
7.) Align Your Content Marketing Strategy with Sales
As marketers, our content marketing strategy can take a league of its own and can silo you off at certain times while putting together collateral, promotional materials and everything in between. Does sales know of all of the great things your marketing team is putting together?
Take these couple of tips for getting sales up to speed with your content marketing strategy:
- Create (or add) Sales to a Shared Calendar: Have a calendar in place to show sales all of the marketing efforts happening over time. Sales can use this during their conversations with prospects for increased awareness and touch points.
- Craft Email Templates for Sales: By creating email templates for your sales team to use, the messaging is there for sales to use and tweak for future prospect conversations, instead of having them create (or not create) these resources.
8.) Participate/Listen in on Sales Calls
If time allows on your schedule (and it should), try to sit in on a couple of sales calls per month (or listen to the recordings in your CRM) and get a feel as to how the process goes post-marketing’s handoff to sales. If agreed upon before the call, chime in on areas that will be beneficial to both the client and prospect.
This is very helpful from the marketing side as you can identify potential gaps within the conversation that marketing can provide as a piece of collateral or landing page that sales can direct the prospect to during future conversations. Sales also gets the benefit of better quality conversations and being better equipped to take on the next one.
Bonus Tip: Try this with multiple sales reps to get a greater feel of the conversation. Some reps can be location or industry-based, creating additional opportunities for growth in your marketing efforts.
9.) Have a Training Plan with Sales on New Tools
There are many sales enablement tools out there that guarantee to save your reps time and money, but adding a new tool to their already long list of to-dos can be more of a detriment than a helpful initiative. However, it doesn’t have to be like that every time.
Have marketing apart of those conversations (most likely the sales enablement tool is coming from them anyway) and develop a training plan that is consistent and well thought out. Better yet, have sales apart of the conversation with the new tool to get them just as excited as you are for a chance at better collaboration between the two parties.
10.) Get Marketing and Sales Together Outside of Work
An easy, yet overlooked way to aligning your marketing and sales staff is to get them better acquainted with one another. This can be on a one-off happy hour after work, or a lunch out of the office. Creating that personal relationship between sales and marketing develops trust and a comfortable feeling between each other, providing a more open dialogue between everyone involved.
11.) Make it a Win-Win For Both Marketing and Sales
For all of these reasons above, something that needs to be clear from both of you is it needs to be “Win-Win” on each side. If your new marketing initiatives in turn help to increase sales for your reps, that’s a positive for both marketing and sales to better collaborate and find new ways to benefit each other in the long run.
What other ways have you seen marketers improve their relationship with sales?
About the author
Aaron Riddle was formerly a Digital Project Manager at SmartBug Media. He has more than 9 years of marketing and project management experience helping organizations succeed in their digital marketing goals and objectives ranging from not for profits to large technology-based groups and businesses. Read more articles by Aaron Riddle.