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Marketing and Sales Team Alignment

How to Bridge the Gap Between Sales & Marketing Teams

October 23, 2020

By Dwayne Charrington

Guest author Dwayne Charrington is Content Strategist at ProProfs Desk.

Sales and marketing departments share a lot in common, including the pivotal role they play in customer engagement and revenue generation. In the best-case scenario, both teams are communicating well and delivering top-notch results. 

Unfortunately, that is not the reality for most business owners. 

The chasm that separates sales and marketing is dark. The friction points between the two teams can create havoc, drain productivity, and prohibit your business from going any steps further. For most entrepreneurs, successfully guiding the two departments to work in complete harmony and reach an easy consensus on every decision is still a pipe dream. 

The golden question: How can you possibly make your sales and marketing teams work together like a well-oiled machine and deliver unprecedented results? 

Jill Rowley, popular for her work on social selling and modern marketing, was named the #1 Most Influential Woman in Social Selling by Forbes. Her take on bridging the gap between sales and marketing: “The new reality is that sales and marketing are continuously and increasingly integrated. Marketing needs to know more about sales, sales need to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.”

The absence of a proactive relationship between the two divisions can make your business struggle to meet sales targets. Getting knocked down by competition will only be a matter of time. Read this blog to strengthen communication between your sales and marketing teams. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Evolution of the Sales & Marketing Relationship

Red Flags: Are Your Marketing and Sales Teams Out of Sync? 

When revenue figures are plunging, most entrepreneurs look to their sales and marketing teams for answers, only to find that they are engaged in a never-ending blame game. 

Marketers complain that sales reps are not doing justice to their leads and need to up their game to get more conversions. Salespeople feel that marketing is not generating enough reliable leads. This finger-pointing keeps going around in circles. 

Even statistics reveal that all is not well between the sales and marketing departments. According to a report by SiriusDecisions, 70 percent of content created by B2B marketing teams is never used by sales. Here are some red flags that deserve your attention:

  • The sales team is always complaining about poor-quality leads. Constant grumbling from your sales team about ineffective leads supplied by the marketing team can distract focus from the real work. 
  • Lack of real and face-to-face communication. When most of the communication between the two departments takes place over email, there tends to be a lack of meaningful communication. In contrast, face-to-face or video communication can lead to improved team bonding. 
  • Sales and marketing do not consult each other. Both of these departments might have different goals, but they are interdependent. If they are not consulting each other before making crucial decisions, achieving set targets is a far-fetched dream. 

There might be plenty of other reasons preventing your sales and marketing team from seeing eye to eye. You need to address all evident red flags in order to streamline sales and marketing operations. 

The Marriage Between Sales and Marketing

Mergers and unions often encounter multiple challenges. Even human marriages have a 50 percent divorce rate. And you thought marrying your sales to marketing would be a walk in the park?

The good news: We are witnessing a gradual shift towards “smarketing.” Smarketing focuses on improving sales and marketing communication and ensuring the two departments unify into one big, reliable team. 

Traditionally, marketing generates a lead and forwards it to sales—and no one in marketing has any idea what happens after that. The smarketing approach strives to make this process more transparent and inclusive. Every potential lead is tracked in a single intelligent system from the time a customer shows interest to the point of conversion, and even beyond. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, and it enables marketing to understand what content is actually working and what is not. 

Magic unfolds when sales and marketing work shoulder to shoulder. Let’s find out how. 

Improved Collaboration

Resolving underlying conflicts between your teams makes it easier for your marketing members and sales professionals to communicate and strategize together. They can effortlessly collaborate on shared goals and solve complex problems.  

Consistent Messaging

If your marketing and sales present different messages across customers, it can leave a bad impression. The focus should be on consistent messaging across all efforts, whether a marketing campaign or a sales exhibition. Brands that are presented consistently are 3-4 times more likely to experience brand visibility. 

Increased Conversions

Inefficiencies between your teams can lead to bad investments. When both sales and marketing work together, there's a higher probability that your campaigns will work and generate the desired ROI in contrast to your budget going to waste.

Positive Work Environment

When your teams work together like a well-oiled machine, the entire office atmosphere improves. A low-stress environment can result in increased productivity and invite creative inputs from every member. 

5 Actionable Strategies to Make Sales and Marketing Work Like One Big Unified Teamstrong>

1. Create an Inclusive Sales and Marketing Strategy

If you still consider your sales and marketing teams as two stand-alone entities, you might be making a big mistake. They may have different goals and objectives, but their end goal is the same: to increase revenue. Without marketers, salespeople don’t have leads, and without the sales team, marketing can never know the quality of leads they are generating. Because of this symbiosis, your business must devise a common strategy that caters to each department's needs. For instance, you can develop a customer feedback loop strategy, where sales shares constant feedback with marketing to improve their campaigns and increase the return on investment (ROI). 

2. Set a Common Goal

Setting a common goal ensures that both sales and marketing are on the same page. The common goal for most businesses would be to meet revenue targets for a quarter or year. For both of the departments to help the company achieve its revenue goals, they need to be well-versed in their respective roles in the process. They need to know the difference between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). When your teams work together day in and day out, it will be only a matter of time before you achieve the desired results.  

3. Encourage Intra-Departmental Communication

Your business departments might be operating from different floors or, in some cases, different locations. However, they need to communicate well in order to avoid miscommunication. How can you improve communication between marketing and sales? To start, you can leverage the right tools and use the right approach to streamline intra-departmental communication. 

Considering that a majority of employees are working remotely, you must encourage both formal and informal virtual meetups. You can also leverage team collaboration tools, like Asana or Slack, that allow team members to solve complex problems together. For instance, you can leverage a robust help desk software that allows your customer support team to share product-related customer queries with sales and marketing professionals.

4. Automate Communication Channels

If your business is still using spreadsheets to record and track leads, as well as their subsequent conversion rates, real-time communication and analysis might seem like big challenges. How do you automate communication between sales and marketing? The right customer relationship management (CRM) tool is the key here. CRM software can help you track and nurture leads from start to finish. It can act as a common link and supply all customer-related information and interactions to both the sales and the marketing division. Moreover, leveraging such tools can help you with all the insights and reports that your leaders need. 

5. Have an Open-Door Policy

Employees being hesitant to share their concerns or viewpoints is not a healthy sign. You must look to foster an open-door policy in order to encourage open communication, feedback, and discussion about any evident issues or bottlenecks prevailing at work. Leaders must be trained to lend an ear to their respective team members, and they must try to resolve any areas of concern, while keeping an unbiased stance. 

The Bottom Line

If your marketing and sales teams do not have the sweeping romance they should, don't be surprised. You can start addressing this by spotting and resolving the many tell-tale signs that reflect the growing distance between the two departments. If ignored, such signs can increase the friction between your teams and cost your business in the long run.  

To bridge the gap between sales and marketing, reach out to both divisions to better understand their challenges and needs. Focus on building team cohesion and resolving customer problems together. Not only will this improve your business and increase revenue, but it will also help foster a healthy work environment—and can you really put a price on that?

Aligning sales and marketing can be one of the most difficult internal processes, a marketing agency can help you lift that weight off your shoulders, check out this article that talks about the ways a marketing agency can help you out.


Get sales on board with your marketing strategy with:

The Evolution of Sales & Marketing Relationship

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Topics: Marketing Strategy, Sales Strategy, SaaS