Each time we take on a client, the first step we take is to become a customer. We won't immediately call their sales team. We'll sign up for their email newsletter (if they have one), download an asset, schedule a demo, and then wait for the sales team to reach out to us. We'll discuss the opportunity as if we were a lead, and try to go through the entire sales cycle with them.
The next step we take is asking the marketing team what the sales cycle looks like. We review the sales collateral that marketing developed. And then we compare the two. You'd be surprised, for example, how many times we see the beautifully branded marketing presentation created for the sales team… but then are shown a terrible sales presentation that looks like it was hastily created 10 minutes before the call. Why? Because the one marketing designed just doesn't work.
This process isn't a waste of time – it almost always provides a glaring gap between the two parties. You may even wish to spot check your process. We're not stating this to say sales and marketing are dysfunctional, more often it's simply that each group has different methods and motivations. The problem when these gaps occur isn't that marketing is wasting time… it's that the sales team isn't maximizing its resources to nurture and close the sale.
We've previously published questions you can ask within your organization to check your sales and marketing alignment. Brian Downard, Co-founder and Partner at ELIV8 Business Strategies has put together these 5 methods to improve your sales and marketing… with the collective objective to boost revenue.
- Content should drive sales, not just brand awareness – include your sales team in your content planning to identify opportunities and objections your sales team is hearing.
- Strategically nurture your lead lists – sales is motivated to get the quick sale, so they may abandon more lucrative marketing leads that may take longer.
- Define sales qualified lead (SQL) criteria – marketing often tosses every registration across as a lead, but online marketing often produces many unqualified leads.
- Create a Service Level Agreement between sales and marketing – your marketing department should treat your sales team as their customers, even being surveyed on how well they're serving sales.
- Update your sales pitch and presentation – invest in a sales asset management system that ensures the latest marketing materials are tested and measured.
There are additional things you can do to help align sales and marketing. Sharing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like opportunities generated and closed/won business with their relevant sales and marketing touchpoints can help visualize what strategies are performing best. You may even wish to publish a shared dashboard to track progress and reward the teams when goals are met.
And always make sure Sales and Marketing leadership have a shared vision and have signed off on each other's plan. Some companies are even incorporating a Chief Revenue Officer to ensure the alignment.