Marketing and Sales Teams Must Be Aligned At All Times

Written by William Flaiz and originally published on Forbes.com on February 2, 2018.

What is more important to your organization: marketing generating a high volume of sales leads or sales closing a higher percentage of leads?

Are they mutually exclusive? I don't think they are, and I don't think they are the right questions to be asking either -- they are putting the cart before the horse. For marketing and sales to be truly effective, they first must be fully aligned on what they need from each other.

There are many ways to look at this challenge, but I will focus on one situation that I have seen dozens of times at companies that I have worked for or worked with as a consultant. The biggest and most common challenge is when marketing and sales do not work together. At too many companies, sales and marketing departments simply do not communicate or know what the other team is doing.

Why is this a problem?

When these two groups are not working in sync, many problems can arise. For example, when these groups are not communicating while using software automation for sales (CRM) and marketing (marketing automation), then issues will arise in the types of leads that are generated or what constitutes a lead. This also leads to challenges in process, flow and time for both sales and marketing.

An Example

A large company I worked for adopted a new version of Salesforce. A shift in the process had the sales team working within Salesforce using the Miller Heiman method, which is a method of sales targeting that involves focusing sales efforts on multiple types of decision makers and buyers for any prospective client.

However, marketing was not brought up to speed on how Salesforce was aligned with the Miller Heiman strategy. In addition to a lack of alignment on strategy, marketing was not informed of the types of sales targets the team was being measured against.

This resulted in the sales department operating with a shifting strategy while the marketing team proceeded with its prior strategy that focused on delivering volume – and the end result was a misalignment of priorities and goals.

How do you provide a clear path to sales?

This type of misalignment is a challenge for sales teams; their focus is on qualified target clients, as their performance is measured on closing a higher percentage of business against a smaller volume of leads. Marketing is focused on generating a higher volume of leads at a low cost, so they have a lower bar for qualification criteria. This can result in a high volume of leads being sent to the sales team with little intelligence attached to identify qualification criteria, buying stage or lead origin. A high volume of leads is often a great problem to have, but not if they aren't properly qualified -- then they become a distraction to the sales team.

So how do you avoid this situation?

Here are some simple tips to align your teams:

  • Hold regular meetings between the heads of the sales and marketing departments in which they share strategy, focus and upcoming campaigns.
  • Have those on the front lines meet and discuss what works and what isn't working. Include supporting data and performance metrics, but keep the focus on developing a dialogue between the teams.
  • Audit your technology platforms to make sure they are supporting the qualification criteria, being delivered to sales at the right time and collecting usable data points throughout the process.
  • Hold both teams accountable to a common set of performance metrics.
  • Make sure compensation incentives are aligned so that it becomes natural for both teams to collaborate and work toward a common goal.

How do you fuel growth collaboratively?

Aligning your sales and marketing teams is the best way to fuel business growth efficiently and effectively. Too often they are at odds more than they are collaborative partners, so the first step is to establish communication. Expect an iterative cycle of communication, adjustment and measurement to move your teams toward becoming a single unit instead of siloed adversaries.

 

Published by William Flaiz on



220 NW 8th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

Privacy Policy

© 2018 Bottom Line Strategy Group