How do you create sales and marketing alignment? How do you get the sales team and marketing team to actually work together?
There’s a lot of talk about the increasing need to align sales and marketing functions within organizations. More and more, customers are expecting a seamless experience. And it’s getting harder and harder to split the different parts of the customer life cycle between the sales team over there, and the marketing team over here.
Instead of keeping the two separate and distinct, it’s clear that the new buyer’s journey requires them to merge. And at the same time, both marketing and sales professionals are being expected to expand their role. Juggling all of this can be challenging.
The New Expectations for Marketing and Sales
The growing number of platforms and channels are pushing marketers to create more and more content. At the same time, it’s easier than ever to quantify ROI for different marketing initiatives. So they are being expected to create more material and being held to higher standards for what they produce.
On the other side of the aisle, there’s an increasing pressure on sales people to engage their prospects and customers with relevant insights. Digital communication has become a powerful tool for engaging in long-term value- and relationship- building. That means that they need content to share, and unfortunately, most sales people don’t have the training, experience, or desire to create it.
Alignment doesn’t always come smoothly or easily, though. Both sides often resist taking a cue from the other. Some of this stems from old feuds and politics, but there’s also a feeling that the each is out of touch with the other. For example, sales often sees the marketing team as isolated and out of touch with what’s happening “in the trenches”.
This is the perfect place for the marketing department to extend an olives branch to the sales team. And at the same time, they can make their jobs a lot easier. By actively engaging with their sales teams to help create content, marketers can create better content that drives the customer relationship. This has a lot of positive effects:
- It builds the relationship between the sales and marketing teams.
- This allows you to create higher-quality content more quickly.
- The sales team is more likely to share it because they are involved.
- It will shine a light on any gaps in your current thinking.
Practical Questions that Bring Marketing and Sales Together
So how do you do this? Don’t over-complicate the process. On a regular basis, sit down for a few minutes with the sales leaders in your organization. Not the sales managers, but the actual top sales reps who are actively engaged in hitting quota and bringing in the business. Don’t take up too much of their time, but every week or month, ask them a few questions:
1. What are the favorite stories that you are telling your prospects right now?
Salespeople are inveterate storytellers. Their job is to connect with a person, uncover their needs, and use persuasion to create action. Stories help them connect and move their customers. Find out what they are sharing with their prospects. It might be a story about a success another customer had (that you aren’t aware of). Or it might be of something completely outside of the company that illustrates a relevant point.
These narratives could be woven into the content you are creating. Or they could become the content – imagine a video of a salesperson talking enthusiastically about how a customer saved time, money, and energy with your product.
2. What has been your biggest win lately?
The best stories are the wins. Find out what wins your salespeople have had lately and how they got them. What information proved valuable to the customers? What competitors did they beat, and how? What did the customer say when they decided to go ahead and work with your company?
Salespeople sometimes have big egos, but they have often earned them through hard work and lots of customer engagement. They can tell you what’s happening in the successful engagements with the customers, what they are thinking and what’s important to them. There’s a host of material you can glean and repurpose.
3. Why aren’t people buying from you?
When you get past the “I don’t have any good leads” bluster, you’ll find that there are legitimate challenges and objections that salespeople are running into. Is there a particular feature that your product lacks or is there a competitor that seems like they are better? Or are prospective customers too comfortable with the status quo and resistant to change?
By learning these, you’ll have a direct line into what sort of content you should be creating. Work with the sales team to figure out which content would help educate and inform customers: Set the sales team up for success.
Create a Virtuous Cycle of Cooperation
Whether you ask these questions daily, weekly, or monthly, you’re setting up a virtuous cycle that makes everyone happier and more productive. When you ask a sales person for their input on the content you create, they are way more likely to actively use that content. Then, when they have a better customer conversation because of that content, they are going to come back to you with more ideas.
And the cycle keeps going. But you have to get it started somewhere. So why not ask these questions today?
When you work with the sales team to set them up for success, they will love you. Beyond that, they will see the power of working together to help the end customer and help everyone achieve their goals.