There’s a current that runs beneath the surface of the relationship between your marketing and sales teams. Like an undertow, it can be powerful enough to pull sales and profits under. By recognizing the natural dynamic tension between the marketing and sales function and implementing the right management tools, you can harness this power to improve sales, profits and morale. According to the Harvard Business Review, getting marketing and sales to work with each other instead of against each other results in shorter sales cycles, lower market-entry costs, and overall lower cost of sales.
It Starts with Communication
Communication is much more than the sharing of information. Effective communication requires a shared language. Even if everyone speaks the same language, do the words have the same meaning?
One of the most common points of friction between marketing and sales is the definition of a lead. What marketing considers hot, sales may see as merely tepid. Marketing may consider a lead to be any entity with any interest in the product or service. Sales may consider a lead any entity with the budget, authority, and the interest necessary to make a purchase. See where communication breaks down?
By working from a common standard, the definition and quality of a lead can be mutually agreed upon in advance. Leads that don’t meet quality standards can be nurtured. Quality leads can be converted to opportunities and sales. A robust CRM can improve communication between sales and marketing. When leads convert to opportunities they can be prioritized based on budget, potential revenue, probability of closing, etc. Management of both functions gets a full view of the funnel.
Shared Data is Crucial
In any organization, information is power. For marketing and sales to work well together, information fiefdoms cannot be allowed to exist. Information and data must flow freely. It should also be in a form that is usable by both sales and marketing functions.
For example, in order to calculate and monitor ROI, marketing must know how many leads are generated per campaign. However, it is the sales function that is positioned to capture this information. If capturing the data isn’t quick and easy, sales may not do it. If the data isn’t automatically shared, marketing may not have access to critical data.
The sales function is closest to the customer. Sales is uniquely positioned to gather both formal and informal information on marketing efforts. Marketing must know if new products lack the features or style the customer wants. Feedback on new pricing strategies will be heard first by sales. If sales withholds data from marketing, the entire company suffers.
Formal and informal team meetings allow for free flow of information. In addition, your CRM should collect the data necessary for sales and marketing functions and display it in a manner usable to both. Management of both functions needs access to the data and analysis tools necessary to determine if sales goals and marketing efforts are aligned.
Speaking of aligned goals; goals between the two functions must not be set independently. Sales is focused on short-term results. Naturally, their goals are to meet individual and group sales goals. Sales may be happy to settle for a high-volume of low profit sales because they are easier to close. Every closed sale gets them closer to the overall goal. If sales focuses on the next 3 feet, marketing looks to the horizon. Marketing is concerned with overall market and product development. Marketing campaigns and branding efforts take time and marketers are patient. They prefer fewer sales with higher profit or sales with the highest potential for future revenue. If goals are set independently, conflict will ensue. Think cats and dogs.
When setting goals, revenue growth and pipeline growth should be aligned. A LinkedIn and JoinTheDots joint study of sales and marketing professionals found that shared objectives and key performance indicators improved collaboration. This improved collaboration leads to a better understanding of the customer and fewer lost opportunities. So, work backwards from sales goals to set goals for inbound contacts, website visitors, and qualified leads.
Instead of fostering internal competition for resources, promote a shared customer first mentality. Utilize a CRM that gives you a complete 360 degree view of your leads, opportunities, and customers. Sales and marketing can work together to put this data to use by developing buyer personas.
There Will Be Differences – Digitalize to Bridge the Divide
Recognize that the sales and marketing functions attract two very different types of people. Sales personalities are people and relationship focused. Marketing personalities are analytical and project focused. By bringing the two personality types together for formal and informal meetings, openly sharing data and collaborating to develop shared goals you can capitalize on the strengths of each. Digitalize your CRM to support all aspects of your organization and bridge the divide between sales and marketing. Instead of cats and dogs, you will have a team of thoroughbreds yoked together to deliver results.