Sales and Marketing teams are both crucial parts of the same lead-to-client process. The different perspectives between the two teams, however, often result in miscommunication, frustration, and ultimately loss of revenue. At times, it can appear like both sales and marketing are heading towards separate goals with separate steps and separate processes to get there. One study even found that over $1 trillion of revenue is lost annually due to marketing misalignment.
So how can companies take the two teams and align both to work towards a shared profit goal? The answer is complicated but, as with all important relationships, the first three steps are easy:
- Identify the difference
- Find common ground with common language
- Unify both teams around a common goal
(And of course the bonus section: practical steps to alignment)
Identify the Difference
Both Sales and Marketing have different funnels labeling the progression of interested persons or companies through the sales process. Marketing funnels categorize users by website interaction, buyer personas, and interests. Each user is encouraged to self-identify through various micro-conversions for instance: downloading ebooks and/or white papers.
The goal is to collect various pieces of personal information — like email addresses and buyer personalities. Such contact information is ultimately passed to a sales rep initiating the first step in the sales process: the introduction of a qualified lead.
The sales funnel focuses on educating individual leads about the benefits of the specific product. The goal is to encourage a fast, mutually beneficial purchase. While the marketing funnel has a relaxed timeline focused on information-gathering, the sales funnel has an expedited timeline focused on action, personal relationships, and final conversions.
Let’s use a sports analogy, for instance, baseball. Marketing and Sales wear the same jersey and play on the same team, but often sit in two separate dugouts. Instead of combining their strengths and creating a joint strategy, they’re spending their time shouting across the field and wondering why their words are lost in translation. It’s no wonder then, why marketing teams often find their sales counterparts impulsive, while sales teams often find marketing co-workers less action-oriented and seemingly less focused on company goals.
Find Common Ground with Common Language
While identifying the potential for miscommunication is an excellent start to aligning Sales and Marketing – the second step is to combine the sales and marketing funnels into one process with common vocabulary for both teams. One such funnel looks like this:
- Attract — primarily a marketing function. This step draws potential customers in and builds brand awareness.
- Nurture — a sales and marketing step. Nurturing prospective buyers into qualified leads involves marketing content, think blogs, brochures, appealing visuals, as well as dedicated sales reps who can answer questions and encourage conversions.
- Convert — primarily a sales step. This step should optimally be the conversion from an interested buyer persona to a customer.
- Engage — post a successful sale both marketing and sales teams should request feedback on the client’s sales experience and general thoughts on the sales process. Engaging customers post-sale builds brand loyalty and encourages future transactions.
Just as both teams are integral in this combined process, both teams should have a clear understanding of your company’s unique funnel. Both sales and marketing team members should be able to answer questions like:
- How long is our funnel from original customer interest to actual purchase?
- What content motivates our clients and what, generally, are they looking for?
Understanding your unique customers ultimately helps both teams orient their responsibilities and determine effective business techniques.
Unify Both Teams Around One Goal
While building brand awareness and increasing sales revenue are vital parts of your business — the ultimate goal is to delight customers with your product and/or service. The momentum of happy customers drives referrals and repeats sales. By keeping the customer at the forefront of all company operations, businesses empower everyone to drive sales via exceptional service. This perspective takes the funnel above and transforms it into a repeatable process, a “wheel” if you will that continues to move the business forward. While the funnel is certainly easier to visualize, this “wheel” is the ultimate goal.
Bonus: Practical Steps to Implementing Alignment
While the blended funnel and Flywheel Sales model are the goals in marketing and sales alignment — it’s ultimately the daily, mundane activities that create a unified team. When aligning sales and marketing you should start by:
- Scheduling a joint meeting with both teams to discuss your company’s blended funnel. This meeting should address the speed at which a customer processes from initial interest to final conversion, what is considered a qualified lead to your company, and what marketing techniques might apply to relevant, qualified buyers. (Consider Marketo’s step-by-step alignment blog.)
- Teach sales members when to request specific content from marketing, and encourage marketing to develop specific materials for sales
- Teach marketing members what information is relevant to sales members and what constitutes a qualified lead.
- Maintain ongoing communication and weekly meetings between both teams (or team leads for large organizations).
- Make both teams accountable for a shared numerical goal — for instance profit. Having a shared numerical goal helps focus the efforts of both teams by adding a layer of responsibility and mutual accountability.
For more tips on aligning sales and marketing take a look at these articles:
- Flywheel Marketing
- Hubspot Flywheel Marketing
- HubSpot’s Tried-and-True Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment
- Marketo Sales and Marketing Alignment