What's the relationship like between your sales and marketing teams? Often, in many businesses there's almost a type of sibling rivalry between these two teams. Your sales team might feel like marketing isn't generating enough high-quality leads, while your marketing crew believes that sales isn't working leads diligently!
Mistrust and miscommunication between sales and marketing can drag down the results of both teams, slowing your company's growth.
The key lies in alignment. By aligning your sales and marketing team's efforts you can achieve optimal performance. Creating a lasting alignment between sales and marketing requires a strategy that treats both teams as a single revenue-generating entity within the organization.
By implementing a structure of open communication and using data-driven tools and analysis you can begin to align both team's efforts and enable them to work together seamlessly to drive sales and grow your business.
By using hard numbers to define the key stages of your lead/sales funnel and creating a clear protocol for each team, you can reduce discord and finger-pointing. Data allows the results to be plainly seen.
Structuring and fostering a philosophy of consistent and constant communication along with relevant data is the key to beginning alignment. For example, by sales offering your marketing team information on the quality of leads, marketing can begin to understand which types of leads are likely to close.
Marketing can then adjust their inbound efforts to target those higher quality leads. Marketing should be allowed to attend sales calls and observe. They may even help to close when asked. This will help them to understand the value of each generated lead.
Here are seven ways that you can begin to structure a framework to align marketing and sales to optimize your inbound performance.
1. Management Is The Key
Alignment starts at the top if the sales and marketing directors are not in agreement, this will effect their teams. It's not necessary for these department heads to report to the same person, but they do need to be focused on achieving the same objective and have a mutually defined plan to get there.
2. Align Language
Both teams must speak the same language. This helps your teams to manage expectations between them internally as well as in conversations with prospects. Having clear definitions for all terms, metrics and communicating openly helps to preempt miscommunications between sales and marketing.
3. Align Goals
People manage tasks when they are measured on those tasks. Make sure marketing and sales are working towards the same end goal. This can insure they are working towards the same outcome. While it's unrealistic to give marketing a “sales” goal, they need to have “skin in the game,” (the game being attracting new customers and managing them throughout the customer lifestyle).
Aligning compensation in a way that pays the sales rep on the revenue number, and then splitting the marketing reps compensation between the total number of leads they bring in and the quality of those leads (the leads that result in revenue) can be an effective way to give them some skin!
4. Create A Joint Plan
When your teams create a plan together they will be vested in its success. Create a joint team plan that outlines the goals, activities and expected results. The plan should include not only a calendar of marketing activities but should also include sales promotions and other activities that will help them achieve their goals.
5. Set-up a Closed-Loop System – Measure Your Results
Once language and goals are defined, it's time to set up the numbers. Open data is crucial for successful alignment. By monitoring data in near real time, you can generate up -to-the-minute progress reports toward agreed upon goals. A closed-loop system allows you to monitor lead quality and measurement of marketing ROI. Two key technological elements within a closed-loop system are:
- Marketing software – use a marketing software approach to help with lead generation and management throughout the process.
- Integrate A Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) – A CRM system can help track and measure sales teams activities
Any systems need to be fully integrated and accessible by both sales and marketing. This allows each lead to be followed throughout the customer lifecycle from first contact through close. This can help you to understand which marketing efforts are most successful.
6. Define Your Funnels
Alignment means defining not only goals and language, but also your leads/sales process. Have a clear definition and direction for every stage of the process. For example:
1. Visitors follow CTAs, convert and become leads
2. Leads are traced and defined to determine origin. If marketing driven they are classified Marketing Qualified Leads
3. MQLs are passed to sales
4. Opportunities are determined by sales team and
5. Closed becoming customers
The important step is defining MQLs. This is the handoff point. It's important to have a clear defined terminology. Each lead must be examined closely to determine overall interest and fit to establish qualification.
7. Implement a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Defining MQLs is important for aligning sales and marketing efforts for optimal inbound marketing performance. The next step is to establish an SLA. This is a formal commitment between your sales and marketing teams. The object is to meet specific revenue and growth goals within a specified time period, for example quarterly.
An SLA is a mutually agreed upon two way process. For example, marketing commits to delivering a specific quantity of MQLs to sales each month. Sales then commits to follow-up those leads in a timely manner and makes a specific number of attempts before dropping the lead.
Using these tips can help you to begin the process of aligning your marketing and sales teams. By creating open communication and shared goals backed up with shared hard data and analysis you can improve your marketing effectiveness, increase qualified leads and track those leads through the entire customer lifecycle from first contact through close. Defining terminology, developing a plan and setting mutual goals can help you to align your sales and marketing teams and supercharge your business growth!