Want Higher Profits And Faster Growth? Time To Align Sales And Marketing

August 1, 2016 Jeff Day

 

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For most of business history, sales and marketing have worked independently with some disdain for each other. Marketing created ads and printed sales collateral for trade shows. Sales sold based on relationships and rolodex. The two crossed like ships in the night when absolutely necessary, but typically made no attempts to align for better results.

 

For most of business history, sales and marketing have worked independently with some disdain for each other. Marketing created ads and printed sales collateral for trade shows. Sales sold based on relationships and rolodex. The two crossed like ships in the night when absolutely necessary, but typically made no attempts to align for better results.

 

But, those days are over.

Today, the internet and competitive pressures have increased demands on both functions, as we’re theoretically able to process so much more than ever before: More communications, more leads, more deals. In reality, the role of a sales rep is much more difficult than ever before because the power is all in the hands of the buyer and expectations are exponentially higher. Marketing is feeling the heat, too. “Big data,” the ability to measure marketing’s performance, and the mandate that marketing needs to prove its contribution to pipeline and revenue is forcing  a look farther down the sales cycle.

Thanks again to the internet, nearly 70% of the sales cycle happens before sales is even in contact with the buyer. This means marketing and sales must work together to educate and guide the buyer down the path to a closed deal, which makes the demands on sales—once the buyer does engage—significantly higher. Sales must be both educated and consultative. And, to be those things, they need the support, training, and content to effectively compete in an environment where the buyer has all the power.

And yet, sales and marketing teams still struggle to align.

It’s easy to fall victim to “how we’ve always done it,” when it comes to cross-team collaboration. I’m begging you—don’t be a victim. Companies where sales and marketing have joined forces are gaining an incredible competitive advantage, and it’s easier to align than ever before.

We recently did a roadshow with InsideView and other industry leaders with the theme of “Sales and Marketing Alignment.” Their insightful research, Crack the Code on Sales and Marketing Alignment, shows how much of an issue still exists.  

The benefits of alignment are incredible…
  • According to SiriusDecisions, cross-functional alignment among sales, marketing, and product organizations can help companies achieve up to 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability.

  • IDC reports that B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies has cost them upwards of 10% or more in revenue per year—or $100 million for a billion-dollar company.

  • Aberdeen Group found that 60% of best-in-class organizations have a formal competency to ensure that marketing has extensive visibility into the sales team’s utilization of content. Not surprisingly, organizations with this visibility see an 85% sales quota attainment, more than three times more than the worst performers.

  • And a recent Highspot Survey of 400 sales, marketing, and sales enablement professionals uncovered that 50% of organizations with a focused alignment effort in the form of sales enablement saw an increase in sales conversion rates of 10% or more, while 23% increased conversion rates more than 20%.

But there are still challenges…

Times of change—even when it’s for the better—don’t come without challenges, and there are still hurdles to full alignment in these areas.

  • Many existing challenges directly relate to a long tradition of “religious wars” between sales and marketing. It’s easy for me to say “get over it,” but that’s exactly what teams need to do—get over it, and get on with working towards a common goal, together.

  • If you’re not objectively measuring the disconnect (lead quality, content quality and effectiveness, and intelligence on account or prospects), this ongoing argument becomes finger pointing. With a closed-loop process and objective data, teams can focus on root causes and work to fix them.

  • The main areas of friction—and therefore biggest areas to align—include leads, content, and prospect and customer intelligence (i.e., data).

What to do about it…

The best way to align your sales and marketing teams is to take baby steps. Walk before you run, gain some traction, and then run with it!

  1. Identify key stakeholders and influencers, then get them committed to working on the issues that are unique to your organization.

  2. Agree on common goals: For example, what are we really trying to fix (this month, this quarter, this year).

  3. Be accountable for common Performance metrics/MBOs.

  4. Communicate—across teams, up and down:

    • What you are doing

    • Why it’s important

    • What exactly is expected of everyone

    • …and don’t forget to LISTEN!

  1. Fix the content problem.

  2. Focus on quality leads over quantity.

  3. Work together to improve intelligence/data on customers.

  4. Measure, measure, measure, improve, repeat.

 

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