Stuart Leo is the founder and Managing Director of Blirt, a creative strategy firm covering business strategy, marketing, digital innovation, culture and leadership services.
I’m a marketing guy by background; ad agencies, corporate marketing, research, product development, campaigns …. tactical and strategic.
But when I started my own business I had to become a sales guy. I learnt more in three months about sales than I had in 10+ years of marketing.
Marketing and Sales really are part of the same discipline. Yet they’re two completely different skill sets. It’s kind of like a marriage…. both need each other and all on their own is never better than intimately working together.
So, it’s not surprising then that the biggest arguments in an organisation often happen between marketing and sales!How do you bring alignment to the marketing and sales process?Here are seven ways to bring your marketing and sales team together:
Agree On Who
Always start with the end in mind. If sales and marketing are both crystal clear on who the ideal customers are, the process of going and getting them becomes a lot simpler.
You can’t be vague with this step. Get it precise. A generic statement like female consumers aged 25 to 54 is not a clear definition of a target market.
Work closely with each other to determine who the customer really is and build a clear picture of who the ideal segments are. Then get practical - put pictures up on walls, get names for them and build key criteria which a customer needs to meet to match that profile.
Your marketing and your sales profiling will be highly targeted if you can achieve this.
Agree On Why These Are The Best Opportunities
The role of sales isn’t just to sell. It’s to sell to the right people for the right reasons. There are some customers who may well be a customer of the organisation but they’re not the ideal customer.
Your ideal customers are a great fit for your product or service and when the product or service is fulfilled everything just works well.
Articulating “Why” those customers are the best customers will help marketing and sales agree on why some customer segments are not pursued and others are.
The benefit to the organisation is your sales and marketing teams will acquire more customers in less time by doing this.
Agree on What Makes The Organisation Attractive
When you agree what makes the organisation attractive to the target customer segment then you will begin to have alignment in the cultural elements of the marketing cycle and the sales track.
If both teams of people in both disciplines believe the same things they will naturally unfold these beliefs and drive the competitive advantage of the organisation in daily work.
Agree On What The Customer Journey Is
A customer will experience touch points delivered primarily by marketing and sales up to the point of purchase. If marketing teams are trying to drive one way of experiencing the brand and a sales team are delivering another then the customer will most rightly consider the organisation bi-polar.
A good customer journey requires the synchronicity of marketing and sales. It’s a like a dance. If one dancer goes hip hop while the others goes ballet then there is a likely outcome…..
Agree On What Success Is Defined As
If there is agreement on what metrics will create success then you have the pathway for building the metrics which track performance for marketing and sales.
Here’s a few of the most important to think about:
Agree On How To Execute
Agreeing on a plan is also agreeing on how to execute a plan. As a revenue driving team you need to know how to play as a team. This is when marketing cycles need to match sales velocity or when sales planning is wrapped into marketing planning.
NB: You might be asking, “What’s sales velocity?” Sales Velocity is the time it takes for a customer to go through the process of lead identification through to sales close.
Agree On How To Get Feedback
Market research is like intelligence in a war. It’s useful to think about in a war room but it’s life saving when you have it on the front line.
Good marketing and sales teams help each other with the flow of intelligence about customers. If marketing is doing deep dive research then integration with sales is critical. When sales teams are noticing shifts in customer behaviour, feeding that back into marketing is critical to keep the organisation’s communication programs tactically on market.
A really practical way of doing some of this is doing simple stand up or 'around the cooler meetings’ on a daily or weekly basis. Or, using digital technology like chatter feeds in Salesforce or group email functions in Google Apps.
Alignment is the first step to clarity.
Clarity is the foundation of growth.
I know when marketing and sales are in alignment, wonderful things happen for an organisation.
Are you as a leader, actively ensuring your sales and marketing teams are working towards continuous alignment?