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Aligning Sales and Marketing: Our Lessons Learned

Sales teams tend to dislike the marketing people. And vice versa. Maybe the sales people are not really sure what marketing is doing. Maybe the marketers are not confident the sales team is following through. There could be other reasons. (And egos.)

Despite any skepticism on both sides, it’s a good idea to have the two teams work together — even if it’s a bumpy road at first.

Why Align Sales and Marketing?

Like the image on our website shows, marketing and sales are like peanut butter and jelly. Marketers work hard to get the name out there and create lead generation campaigns. Salespeople can take those leads and focus on their specific needs and how the company can help. Salespeople are on the front lines and can offer valuable information to marketers based on their experiences, which then helps marketing improve their message and approach.

Sounds terrific, right? It is. Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual growth rate. Companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline. (Source.)

Lessons and Tips
How you align your sales team with your marketing team is up to you and is probably based a lot on whether both are in house. Here are some lessons and tips based on our experience as an outside firm working with our clients’ sales teams:

teamwork aligning sales and marketing

Teamwork gets it done.

Tip: Regular phone calls and in-person meetings. We like to check in with clients once per month to give a progress report and status update. Most of these meetings are by phone, but we usually start new clients in person. People tend to get more comfortable with each other once they get to know each other, and putting a face with a name makes a big difference.



Lesson: Set expectations. One problem that arises during such alignments is that sales teams are confused about the leads presented. Many of them expect to be handed people who are ready to buy. Marketing acquires leads in all stages of the buying process. While marketing can continue educating them using various types of content, once a salesperson makes contact, he or she may be assuming responsibility. Make sure everyone knows what to expect when leads come in, and where they can get more information, content, etc. to help guide leads through the process.

Tip: Assign one person from each team as an ambassador. Due to the way teams are set up, we don’t do this with all clients. But for some, it helps to have a particular person on the sales team who is the “go to” for questions. The sales team may also find it helpful if they have someone to whom they can reach out.

Lesson: Keep everyone informed. As marketers create messaging, you want your sales team to know the language so they can disseminate your brand in a uniform way. 65% of sales reps say they can’t find content to send to prospects. They appreciate knowing what emails look like and when they are sent. Marketers need to know if the sales team is having success or not with parts of a campaign or a message.

Lesson: Good ideas come from all corners. The sales team is boots on the ground; they speak to people who buy your product or service and have useful feedback about both that product/service and its marketing approaches. Meanwhile, marketers are looking at the bigger picture and analyzing data about who is clicking on the website, opening emails, responding to ads. Both groups have information. By having them share it at the same meeting, company leaders can get a full picture and decide next steps.

Have you tried aligning your sales and marketing teams? What lessons or tips would you add?