How Marketing Can Build A Strong Relationship With Sales – Forbes NowRelationship
The most successful relationships are built on mutual trust, respect and achievement of a common goal, be it building an empire, raising children or simply enjoying time spent together. Given that this alignment of spirit is the very thing that binds two entities together, it seems a reasonable theory that marketing and sales teams would be naturally and blissfully linked. After all, marketers identify leads that allow sales teams to work their magic and generate revenue.
In practice, though, a strained relationship often exists, with each group all too easily criticizing the other. The most successful organizations have marketing and sales teams that view each other as the interconnected partners they are, each with an important role to play in boosting top-line growth.
Connect the dots between marketing and return on investment.
Marketing and sales teams often find themselves at odds, perhaps due to a lack of understanding about how each department can and should seamlessly collaborate to drive customer growth. The solution lies in educating both departments about the ways in which their individual workflows come together to create an essential synergy for achieving broader organizational goals.
Ask these three questions to guide the process:
1. What does your organization hope to achieve, both in the short term and into the future?
2. What will it take to reach that point?
3. Who is responsible for each of the required tasks?
Working in functional silos is not enough. Once each department answers these questions independently, pose and discuss them in a collaborative setting. Marketing and sales teams must not only align on overall business goals but should also outline product adoption goals and metrics together, paying particular attention to prioritizing the KPIs that link marketing activity directly to sales.
Only when marketing is encouraged and accountable for contributing strategic input into quarterly and annual planning, and viewed as a driver of revenue, does it become possible to build a solid partnership. Return on investment (ROI) tops the list, but reaching agreement on additional metrics, such as lead goals associated with events and thresholds for scoring and qualifying sales leads, allows both teams to contribute to a collaborative effort.
Work together to create a lead generation strategy.
The disconnect between marketing and sales personnel has a primary linchpin: leads. Marketers grow frustrated when it seems like sales isn’t closing the loop on generated leads, while salespeople may believe those leads fall short of being qualified. This lack of synchrony leads to conflict.
But when marketing brings sales in to define a combined lead generation strategy from the outset, success becomes far more achievable. New research from DemandGen shows that marketing and sales team goals for 2018 may be closer than first thought: According to the study, 73% of marketers tasked with demand generation name “focusing on lead quality over lead quantity” as a top goal for 2018 — and 60% want to improve sales and marketing alignment, too.
In the interest of refining the lead qualification process, care should be taken to define customers and their journeys. Creating detailed customer personas and sharing these with sales will ensure that both sides of the house understand the particulars around which consumers are being targeted and why. This exercise helps marketing and sales determine how and where to seek leads by developing a thorough understanding of customer beliefs, attitudes and behaviors, including preferred format, channel and device. Knowing whether case studies, whitepapers or data visualizations are most likely to generate intended response allows marketing to build a varied and impactful catalog to leverage in designing the most powerful outreach campaigns. Recognizing whether customers are most likely to engage with your brand on the website, over email or through social media will guide the marketing content distribution process and provide valuable insight to sales in converting resulting leads.
As buyers work their way through the funnel, marketing and sales should team up on outreach with shared responsibility for identifying the most impactful content to be shared at precise pulse points, maintaining ongoing engagement and meeting — and perhaps exceeding — their respective goals.
Encourage a culture of collaboration.
Cohesion in any business is a critical success factor for both internal happiness and revenue results. A joint study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Rob Cross, the Edward A. Madden professor of global business at Babson College, found that companies that have established a collaborative culture are five times as likely to be high-performing businesses.
In hierarchical organizations, it is important to build alliances at all levels, not just among the most senior leaders. Junior team members should be encouraged to reach out to their counterparts across functions on a regular basis to develop departmental partnerships with deep roots. Mandating this formally — with regularly scheduled meetings where each department shares project progress updates — cements the importance of teamwork and builds on the collaborative momentum started at more senior levels.
When marketing and sales teams have unified goals and shared projects, they must find a way to work comfortably with one another. The key to collaborative success lies in developing a philosophy where collegial sharing becomes the norm, offering colleagues across departments transparency into both workflow and data points. Achieving project success and ultimately organizational growth can only be realized with a fully cooperative effort.
Top priorities for marketers range from creating a consistent customer experience to building brand loyalty and positive word of mouth. Those primary objectives must be expanded upon to include marrying the strengths of marketing and sales. Only then can your organization experience true synergy, resulting in unparalleled growth and your organization’s happily ever after.