Buzz-phrase alert. Today, we’re going to talk “sales and marketing alignment.”
Although this phrase elicits occasional eye rolls, there’s a very good reason why it’s become commonplace—because it represents a strategy that works.
Marketo’s 2013 Sales and Marketing Alignment Study shows that when sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies become 67% better at closing deals and generate 208% more revenue from marketing. Now, consider the omnipresent Corporate Executive Board statistic that 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before that buyer talks to sales.
Together, these two stats show that the responsibility for driving revenue is shared by sales and marketing, and alignment makes the ultimate business goal (more revenue and new business) more attainable.
How Does Sales and Marketing Alignment Play Out?
Modern marketing departments are held accountable for leveraging content to generate qualified leads and opportunities. Sales is responsible for making the most of those leads and opportunities by keeping them engaged through the sales process. Sales teams (particularly “Challenger Sale” sales teams) need content that answers questions and addresses problems their prospects are working through. To do this efficiently, sales needs the help of marketing.
When sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies become 67% better at closing deals.
Traditionally, marketing has been reactive, responsible for feeding sales-requested, product-focused collateral to the sales team. But now, marketing has (or should have) a number on your head. You need to “control your own destiny,” as we say in Salesland.
This means planning your content campaigns in advance to meet established marketing goals. And it also means staying on top of the common questions and concerns prospects are dealing with. To do this effectively, marketing needs the help of sales.
And when collaboration happens, both sales and marketing get what they need.
Strategy + Agility
There are many ways in which sales and marketing need to be aligned—and many reasons why it’s more important than ever.
An Agile, Real-Life Example of Sales and Marketing Alignment by @ben_oren
Just a few alignment necessities include: agreed upon hand-off strategies for qualified (read: meet specific criteria that indicate purchase readiness) leads, a consistent understanding of buyer personas and sales cycle, and communication of upcoming and valuable content. All of these come from a strategic, long-term plan—and all of them are important.
And when preparedness is present, flexibility is possible. When you have a structure in place, you can maneuver more effectively if something timely arises, because you know exactly what needs to shift and how to do it. So, too, an agile approach to sales and marketing is possible if you have your strategy set and open lines of communication between sales and marketing in place.
Here, I’m going share a story about how sales and marketing worked together to create quick, relevant content that answered specific buyer pain points.
Here’s a Concrete Example
I was on a sales call. My prospect started talking about the problems she was trying to solve with her content operation. She asked if I could help. I dug into the problem with her, talked a little bit about Kapost and how our software could support her team, then (after the call) followed up with relevant content that she could use to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Pretty standard sales interaction right? At least for sales organizations who have embraced the power of content. (If your sales team hasn’t caught the content bug, here’s an eBook we wrote with Salesforce that will help.)
But, on top of providing relevant content, I ended my email with a question: “What other problems are you facing that you could use some content to help solve?”
She followed up with two additional questions, one of which hadn’t yet been addressed in our content. I took this question to our Senior Managing Editor, Anne Murphy, who said “Great question. I don’t have anything for you to send to her, but I can move some posts around next week and write something about this.”
Within a week, I had a post answering my prospect’s specific question. My sales cycle advanced and the content team had a fresh new post that answered a question many of our other prospects encounter.
Why It Worked
Here are the three elements that made this example of sales and marketing alignment possible:
- Sales leverages thought leadership content along with product collateral to build trust and add value to conversations
- We’ve established a communication and ideation process between marketing and sales
- The content team is in control of their content operation, which allows them to fill important content gaps quickly
Buzz-phrase or not, sales and marketing alignment is nothing to roll your eyes at.
Buzz-phrase or not, sales and marketing alignment is nothing to roll your eyes at. The way we find and purchase products has changed—and these two teams depend on one another for success. And like any good relationship, it requires alignment on goals and values, as well as constant communication.
Oh, and some damn good content.