12 Steps to Strengthen the Relationship  Between Marketing & Sales

Posted by Cole Scott on October 2, 2019
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A Chain with a Marketing Link connecting to a Sales Link to Show a Strengthened Relationship

 

Managing key communications between marketing and sales teams can be a challenge, no matter what size your company is. As the old saying goes, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” and it only takes one miscommunication or marketing slip-up for the relationship to lose its strength.

How can you be sure that all teams are on the same page, communicating efficiently? What are some effective ways to keep both the sales and marketing divisions following the same objective? How can these two teams work together to ensure that what’s being done is in the best interest of your company’s vision?

If this important relationship is lacking, it might be time to take a more detailed review of your marketing and sales teams. Consider following the three steps below, and connect with our FuseBox One marketing professionals to discuss how our services can get all of your teams back on track and communicate efficiently.

First, it would help if we defined exactly what both departments’ jobs are specifically. Many people are unfamiliar with what exactly sales and marketing do. Sometimes the lines are blurred, and we need to distinguish the two.

 

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Sales

Sales is the straightforward process in which a rep talks to a customer over the phone and guides them towards making a purchase. In fact, this could be over the phone, in person, or using digital mediums such as SMS, e-mail, and even social media.

The process might entail many distinct steps, taking place over the course of many different conversations and platforms. This will include steps like identifying pain points, making them familiar with your company and product, and finally identifying how your product can solve their issues.

It’s also possible that it’s a short process that entails laying out a contract and explaining the details to the client. Over the last few years, the sales universe has changed in some ways but stayed the same in others. Many clients still prefer the personal aspect of a direct face-to-face exchange.

  • Face-to-face sales still account for over 50% of all sales closed.
  • At larger organizations, this number increases to over 70%.

The selling part of the process has largely remained the same; however, it’s the buying process that has rapidly evolved over the last few years. Marketing has been a driving force behind the changes in the buying process.

Marketing

Marketing is a much more natural process that that is designed to increase the awareness of a company or product from a particular client. A marketer rarely ever deals with a client one-on-one; instead, the content and marketing tactics end up reaching the client.

The methods and tactics of marketing look much different than they did, let’s say, 15 or 20 years ago. Processes are primarily digital now, but not all the time. The following list displays the primary marketing channels of our present world:

  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • E-mail marketing
  • Organic traffic and SEO
  • PPC ads

There is also presently a huge increase in the way influencer marketing is utilized.

Digital ad spending is expected to hit over $200 billion by 2023. This is almost double the amount recorded in 2018.

The idea of the marketing/sales relationship is that marketing will generate leads that sales will pursue with the intent of selling products. However, at most organizations, this is where the relationship between the two ends.

  • Most businesses describe their marketing and sales relationship as misaligned.
  • Only 46% of businesses describe their relationship as “highly aligned.”
  • Most marketers don’t know which assets their sales team are most likely to use.
  • Three out of five marketers believe they understand what the sales team requires of them. However, only one in three sales members agree with this.
  • Only a very small portion of companies have an SLA generated between a sales and marketing team (more on this later).

The following are some of the biggest obstacles currently faced by marketing and sales teams looking to align:

  • Lack of accurate shared data regarding prospects or clients
  • Communication
  • Use of different metrics
  • Incorrect processes
  • Lack of accountability from both parties
  • Other challenges reported

Fixing these would require much of the revenue a company has. That’s how big the issue is. To bridge the gap between these two departments, much better communication must be promoted.

Let’s examine what can happen when sales and marketing accomplish working together.

What Happens When Sales and Marketing Work Together?

Sales and marketing are both equally important separate. However, when their efforts combine, the power manifested can pay dividends for any organization.

The combined efforts of sales and marketing could lead to almost double the revenue generated by a marketing team. There could also be a 38% increase in close ratios from the sales department. Much higher levels of customer retention would exist, as well.

An effective salesperson should be able to gain firsthand knowledge of customers and find out what their objections are to a sale. Using marketing could help reps gain this type of information in a big way.

Using hard data can show what type of information or content potential customers respond best to. Breaking down and analyzing this data can also lead to a salesman having a better understanding of what buttons to push during a conversation with a prospect.

However, the continuation of having sales and marketing exist as two separate entities prevent things like this from happening. The truth is these two departments have the ability to complement each other in a way that no other two departments can.

Both the ability to work close to the mental process of a customer to gain insight into the sales and buying process provide a lot of information on a customer profile. Bouncing ideas off each other could intensify these abilities by allowing both departments to work hand in hand and divulge secrets of their respective trades.

Before we get into the exact ways to improve the relationship, you need to understand the three levels that exist between these two departments:

  • The Emotional Level. The two departments should be friendly and have each other’s backs. After all, what’s good for one is good for the other. There should never be any fighting or pointing fingers; instead, follow a more level-headed approach to improve methods and customer relations.
  • The Process Level: There should be a clear and repeatable process when these two departments work as a cohesive unit.
  • The Feedback Loop Level: Marketing doesn’t always produce the best leads. Then again, sales don’t always close the most clients. The two should use each other for feedback regarding the most important processes of the customer/corporation relationship.

Understanding these three levels will allow you to build up to a period of collaboration between the two departments. Now, let’s examine how this can be accomplished.

Step 1: Review Your Company’s Vision and Sales Objectives

Any moderately successful business will find that daily sales and marketing efforts are executed faster and faster, especially during the busier sale seasons. When you get caught up with big clients and large numbers, it’s easy to undermine the importance of day-to-day communication. Before you know it, your marketing and sales departments have lost that initial relationship and have become siloed as two separate entities that rarely check in with each other anymore.

While this is not always the fault of one individual or even one department, it is something that takes a collective effort to repair. It’s all-too-easy for departments to get into the mindset of “I'll do things my way, you do things my way." Team members need space to take a step back and remember your company's founding vision to make work efforts more simpatico. Demand Gen Report researched that 49% of the challenges that strain relationships between sales and marketing have to do with a lack of communication. Just behind that, 42% of the challenge has to do with broken processes – ways of doing things that are flawed.

Re-align both the communications and the methods of doing business between marketing and sales by reminding them about your vision as well as the collective objective that you all want to reach. Goals should be something that every individual does their part to strive for, regardless of their job description.

Step 2: Practice Your Handoff

Switching those precious clients from marketing hands to qualified sales hands can either go really well or really poorly, depending on the level of communication that exists between the two entities. When your company was still growing, the handoff may have gone more smoothly, with only a handful of people on each team. Now that you’ve reached new heights, how can the fully-fledged departments create a system of easy transition of leads from marketing to sales?

Consider utilizing:

  • Lead fitness categories. Use a checklist for marketing to determine what kind of client each lead might become. As an example, someone who loves your company’s content but isn’t looking to become a customer maybe someone who is better off being nurtured for a while. This person should be referred to a sales representative who is less in the field and still training. On the other hand, someone who has a lot of money to spend with your company and needs top-quality help as soon as possible should be given to one of the more assertive members of your sales force. Make sure marketing and sales work together to come up with a system of categories that works for both teams.
  • Marketing asset management. Also known as MAM, this is an online organizational system that all departments in your business can use to manage, share, refer, and store important assets. This can be an effective tool for creating a more seamless handoff method between marketing and sales. Plus, it can also be used to share vital information pertaining to clients and leads that can make each sales experience much more efficient – and ultimately more successful. Visit our marketing management platform to learn more about how our customizable web storefront can make it easier for your marketing team to create lists and dedicate lead management tools to make sales handoffs a breeze.

It is also important to dedicate additional space for feedback between the two teams. The best way to establish efficiency is to allow your divisions to directly communicate feedback and systems improvement suggestions between each other.

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Step 3: Understand Metrics and Trends

Each team has a different set of metrics that define its own success. Make sure these metrics are shared between each department so each can have an understanding of the other's goals and tracking systems.

Furthermore, if there are important updates or trending methods in your business's industry that require some kind of system or organizational update, make sure all departments are aware. Changing trends and statistics in the world of sales, for example, is something that needs to be communicated not just to your sales staff but to your marketing team as well. The opposite is also true; if the marketing team faces a change ineffective marketing strategies, that change must be made known to sales.

CSO Insights recently shared that only only 33% of the time spent by inside sale reps is actively selling.Most of the time, sales reps will nurture leads or stay up-to-date on current clients. A marketing team that focuses too many efforts on assets on just the sale-making part of sales may not be making good use of their efficiency.

Step 4: Have a Service Level Agreement In Place

Normally a service level agreement is used in situations of a customer/client relationship but can be utilized between marketing and sales departments to get them on the same page. The most vital piece of the puzzle is ensuring that the SLA has joint goals that require efforts from both marketing and sales departments. This will encourage awareness from both sides and promote them working together to hit common goals.

Things are some elements you can consider adding to an SLA between the marketing and sales departments:

  • A set time for sales to follow up after a demo or trial submission
  • Revenue generated from marketing tactics vs. revenue generated from sales team tactics
  • Lead to customer close ratios

Try to establish rules that will encompass every sales rep due to the fact that sales cycles can be different depending on what client teams are working with.

Step 5: Agree to Clear Rules on what Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads Are

Sometimes the definition of a lead can become irrelevant when you're dealing with a team that's just getting used to inbound marketing. A large share of organizations has yet to define the rules of their leads.

Place definitions and criteria on your leads - it needs to be perfectly clear what an MQL is and what an SQL is. This way, more engaging conversation can happen between marketing and sales on how to improve leads as a whole.

Step 6: Bring Sales Into the Conversation of Your Buyer Profiles

Sales teams communicate with prospects on a daily basis and can provide excellent feedback regarding buyer profiles. This can even be a way to identify gaps when creating new ones.

Making some time for your sales force to communicate with your marketing force regarding buyer profiles can be how these can be developed more efficiently. When both departments are on the same page regarding this process, campaigns can be more targeted towards the correct demographics, and your process becomes more optimized. This, in turn, leads to higher ROIs on your marketing and sales campaigns.

Step 7: Collaborate On a Normal Basis

It's understandable that marketing and sales are both busy with day-to-day operations. However, it's always a good idea to set aside time to meet with one another to bounce ideas. This gives both teams a chance to talk about how daily operations can be improved from one side to the other.

Use the following tips to maximize the time used to meet with each other:

  • Make sure there's an agenda in place before the meeting. Have each side form an outline or list of questions they have for the other department, so the time is used wisely.
  • Hold weekly and monthly meetings to discuss relevant metrics and analyze data. Figure out how one department can help get the other back on track regarding important sales and marketing metrics.

Step 8: Have a Designated Area to Meet

Having a designated area to meet is important, and it doesn't always have to be a physical location. Chat rooms or other live feeds are great ways to utilize spare time and have these meetings on a remote basis. They can even be conducted after work hours if both sides agree and find the time to do so. You can even create a specific feedback e-mail for times when there aren't meetings, but specific issues still need to be addressed or questions posed.

Step 9: Content Marketing Should Align On Both Sides

This is an often-overlooked element regarding both sides coming together to become more effective. Sales should know about all of the useful things marketing is putting together in terms of content and vice-versa.

Use the following tips to keep both sides up to speed regarding content marketing:

  • Use a shared calendar for both sides to add plans for content marketing strategy
  • Have marketing craft e-mail templates for sales to use for contact with customers

Step 10: Have Marketing Listen In On Sales Calls

If scheduling and time allow (you should make time) for marketing to participate or listen in on sales calls, this should be taken advantage of. This will give the marketing department a feel for how things go once handed off to sales during the post-marketing phase.

If it's agreed upon before the call takes place, marketing may chime in on areas where both sides feel they can be beneficial. This should only happen if the input helped the client or prospect. It's important not to overstep boundaries during these phone calls, as this can lead to more issues in the long run.

This can be very helpful for the marketing side, as marketing can help identify gaps in the conversation that marketing can provide a landing page or something useful to direct the client to in the future. Sales will benefit from better quality conversations and becoming better equipped to handle the next set of phone calls.

Try this method with multiple sales reps to get a better feel for how conversations are going as a whole. Certain reps may be location or industry-based, and getting a good rotation allows for a universal insight into the calls.

Step 11: Have a Training Plan Between the Two Regarding New Tools

There are many sales tools out there that are guaranteed to save your company time and money. However, adding a new tool to their already long list can be detrimental if there's too much on their plate. It doesn't always have to be this way.

Place marketing inside these conversations and come up with a training plan that is consistent and well-thought-out. Make sales a part of the conversation using the new tool to get both sides excited about the new collaboration.

Step 12: Get Marketing and Sales Together Outside of Work

We touched on this earlier regarding having meetings outside of work hours. Get both sides better acquainted with one another by having time outside of the normal business setting. Creating a more personal relationship can give them a better feel for one another and lead to a better relationship at work. This will encourage and promote a more open dialogue during business hours as well.

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Manage Your Assets and Make Communication More Efficient!

Your sales and marketing teams may already be doing their best to improve communications and foster new methods for the smooth transition from lead into a client. However, without the proper internal management systems in play, you may not be able to see your company work at maximum efficiency. A leading marketing system at your fingertips will jumpstart the relationship improvement process and get your marketing and sales teams back on track to reach your goals.

 

Sources:

https://www.prosalesconnection.com/blog/5-ways-to-improve-the-sales-and-marketing-relationship

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/07/17/how-marketing-can-build-a-strong-relationship-with-sales/#714d86576661

https://sujanpatel.com/marketing/sales-marketing-can-work-together/

https://www.marketingdive.com/news/forrester-digital-marketing-spend-to-reach-146b-by-2023-but-search-lands/549285/

https://spotio.com/blog/sales-statistics/

Topics: Digital Asset Management, MarTech, Sales Enablement