If you are a business owner, I’m sure that you’re familiar with competition between your Sales and Marketing teams. This competition leads to rivalry, and rivalry leads to missed sales and decreased revenue because you don’t have everyone in your company working together towards common goals.
Ultimately, this rivalry stems from a misalignment between Sales and Marketing. If you want to quash the competition, you’ve got to get your departments properly aligned. But what does that mean, really? Here’s everything you need to know about the importance of Marketing/Sales alignment.
What is Marketing/Sales Alignment?
Traditionally, Marketing and Sales have been siloed within their own independent departments. As such, they work independently of each other in order to hit their own respective goals and benchmarks. Logically, there is a natural workflow: Marketing creates leads that Sales then turns into customers. But in practice, things usually don’t go as planned.
When Marketing and Sales don’t work together, all sorts of issues are bound to come up:
- Marketing may go after the wrong types of leads, which are unlikely to actually buy
- Marketing may cast too wide a net, making it difficult for Sales to target the best prospects
- Sales may lose confidence in what Marketing does, leaving them to fall back on their own resources and tactics for closing sales (cold-calling, independent research, etc.)
- And many other scenarios.
Ultimately, what this leads to is a lot of wasted time and effort on the side of both Marketing and Sales. In the case of Marketing, they are creating content that does little to actually attract clients and revenue, which leads to Sales becoming disenfranchised with the marketing process. This in turn leads Sales to disregard the leads, insights, and collateral marketing that has been generated and instead march in a totally different direction—generating their own leads, creating their own content, etc.—which wastes the time of everyone involved.
Marketing and Sales alignment is the process of getting your sales and marketing teams working together in order to close deals. At its core, it relies on creating common definitions for things such as Ideal Customer, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), and other important terms, as well as mutually agreed upon funnel goals.
What’s in a Name?
It might seem silly to think that definitions play as big a role as we’re saying they do, but it’s true: If Sales and Marketing don’t mean the same thing when they say “Ideal Customer” or “Marketing Qualified Lead” then there is a disconnect that is going to influence your ability to close sales. If the two departments don’t align, then Marketing is going to continue attracting the wrong kinds of leads, and sending those wrong leads to Sales, and Sales is going to lose faith in the marketing process.
It is extremely important for members of both your sales and marketing teams to mean the same thing when they say the same word, and that’s why aligning definitions plays such a large role in aligning the departments. Once you’ve got clear definitions, Marketing can create content to attract proper leads, which Sales will have an easier time converting into customers.
Empowering Sales with Marketing Content
We’ve talked about this a lot before, but it warrants repeating: The sales process has changed a lot over the last few decades, shifting power away from the salesperson and into the hands of the customer. This has caused a drastic shift in what it actually means to be a salesperson.
In the past, a salesperson acted as a gatekeeper to information about your company’s product or services: Customers needed to go through a salesperson in order to learn about you. Now, the customer has access to online reviews and other resources that makes them more informed before they ever actually speak to a salesperson.
Today, for a salesperson to be effective, they need to offer a prospect more than what is available online: They need to offer value. By providing valuable information, they can build trust, inform the buyer, and hopefully close a sale. But where does this valuable content come from? From Marketing!
Your marketing team spends countless hours creating content in order to attract prospects, but your sales team often doesn’t know that the content exists or doesn’t know where it lives, which limits their ability to pass it along to leads that they are pursuing. This in turn limits their ability to create the kind of relationship that is essential to closing sales in today’s world.
Once your marketing and sales teams have a clear understanding of who the ideal buyer is and what their buyer’s journey might look like, Marketing will be more likely to create content that will attract these buyers and nurture them through their buying process, resulting in more qualified, sales-ready leads. This accomplishes a number of things. On the one hand, it delights your prospects, making them more likely to buy. On the other, it reinforces the value of Marketing’s efforts to your sales team, building internal confidence and giving Marketing the opportunity to have a direct influence on revenue. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
The real magic starts to happen when we move beyond alignment and into the realm of empowerment: Empowering Sales to use marketing content, and empowering Marketing to attract the right kind of leads that Sales needs to close deals. But to get there, you’ve got to start at the basics. Once you put in the groundwork, everything else will come easily.