December 13, 2018

Marketing and Sales Alignment: How to Make Both Teams Work Effectively

December 13, 2018

Marketing and Sales Alignment: How to Make Both Teams Work Effectively

Despite the disruptive changes in today’s business landscape, companies with marketing and sales teams are still running in complete silos.

In fact, in a survey in 2017, researchers found that both teams are not satisfied with the support each was giving to the other.

Check out the data.


51% of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between the teams and 53% of sales professionals are not pleased with marketing’s support.

State of Lead Management 2017, LeanData


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This means that the best, most effective way to boost the bottom line is for marketing and sales to achieve alignment and work together.

Despite this, survey results from LeanData showed that almost half of the businesses surveyed (41%) don’t have an aligned sales and marketing teams.

So why can’t marketing and sales get along? And how can we break the silos and bring these teams together? Charlotte Watkins, Sales Consultant at Exceed Heights, and Jeff Cooper, Founding Partner at Step Change, weigh in.


Why Marketing and Sales Don’t Get On

Once upon a time, marketing is measured on any activity based around the prospect and sales is driven around closing and converting leads to customers. But the business landscape has changed.

Today, the functions are forced to merge more because buyers are becoming more sophisticated, as are the ways we go to market, whether that’s in a sales or a marketing perspective.

But in spite of the great evidence that it pays for both teams to work hand in hand, there are still businesses that have a long way to go in order to achieve alignment.

Salespeople report that they are unsatisfied with marketing because the other team is not able to generate high-quality leads.

Being on the frontlines of the business, salespeople have the most valuable insights about their customers and target buyers, but it seems as though marketers don’t act on these insights.

On the other hand, marketing would feel the same way towards sales. Salespeople don’t use the resources marketers created for them. Oftentimes they fail to realise that the key messages and value propositions the marketing people give are critical as they help shift the focus from “Our product is great — here’s how our product works” to “This product can help make your life easier — it solves problems X, Y, and Z”.


Tearing Down the Silos: Benefits of Marketing and Sales Alignment

Sales and marketing are both very important functions in their own right. They work towards one goal: to help grow the business.

When they come together and work collaboratively, you get a powerful partnership that will positively impact the business.

Your performance metrics will improve in terms sales cycles, market-entry costs, and costs of sales. In fact, organisations whose sales and marketing teams are aligned improved their customer retention rates by 36% and achieved 38% higher sales win rates.


How Can Sales Support Marketing?

Get Involved in the Content Creation Process

Marketing teams out there have to know that salespeople are their best resources if they want to produce content that their target customers actually want to read.

So don’t forget to invite them over during your content idea generation session. Because they are constantly having conversations with your customers, they are able to give you insights as to what they need at every stage of the funnel.


Use the Resources Marketing Built

At Step Change, we have many professional services and sales-led organisations as clients. Whenever we develop a type of marketing message for them, we build a tool that their salespeople could use to do their job more effectively.

It might be a presentation template that has its branding with it. It might be a quotes template that outlines the saleable items out in a way that’s consistent with the branded process. It might be a consultation guide. It might be an audio-visual meeting invitation to set things up in the right way.

Whatever it is that we build for them, we make sure we’re making the salespeople more effective in a way that leverages their time. That is the incentive for them, and in doing so, they have linked the marketing and brand messages into what they do.


Collect Testimonials

Testimonials are powerful tools to not only build a relationship but also establish your credibility and expertise to deliver results. They could be written or recorded statements expressing the trust that your customers have in your services.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business or a large enterprise: the success of your business relies largely on the power of word of mouth. This effective tool can be used on your website, social media platforms, sales proposals, and other product literature.

And who could do this more effectively than the sales team? After a customer has used the product or experienced the service, ask if the customer is willing to give a testimonial. If the customer is happy to give one, let your marketing team know so they can make a follow-up.


How Can Marketing Enable Sales to Close More Leads?

Understand What Your Sales Team Need

The marketing team should take the time to meet and work with sales to understand from a sales-enablement perspective what’s working and what’s not. So that when salespeople go to a client meeting, they understand the client objectives and objections that they are receiving to the sales cycle. This enriches the sales-enablement plan if marketing will take the time to do that. Start with the basic questions:
  • If there are three things that marketing can start, stop, or continue to support sales enablement, what would they be?
  • What kind of conversations do they normally have with the potential client?

To not fall into the trap of creating content for content’s sake, marketers need to understand what kind of content their audience needs and how they want to consume it to take them further in the sales funnel.


Create a Content Library

Marketers get frustrated when sales don’t use the collateral they developed. To ensure that they do, make content easily accessible to them. Create a place where you can host all the materials your sales team need to succeed at their job.

Here are some of the documents that need to go into the sales library:

  • Generic sales proposal deck

  • Case studies

  • Client testimonials videos or slides

  • Ebooks, white papers, research, etc.

  • Infographics and videos

  • Essential templates


Nurture Leads through Marketing Automation

According to DemandGeneration, 51% of B2B buyers look to content to influence their buying decisions. Marketers, therefore, need to set up an automation that allows you to nurture leads and build trust.

Marketing automation, in the words of our Senior Founder Jeff Cooper, makes salespeople superhuman.

By providing relevant and helpful content at each stage in the buyer’s journey — this could be blog posts, white papers or ebooks, and video content — you are building brand recognition and establishing your brand as experts.

By the time sales receive the leads, they are sales-qualified and ready to learn more about what your business offers.  


Marketing and Sales Alignment: The Road to a United Front

For a very long time, sales and marketing have been akin to siblings that don’t go well together. They work in silos as if they are separate entities with separate goals and as a result have missed the mark entirely.

In a time where brands are fighting for their audience’s attention, marketing and sales need to work in synergy — not in silos — to bring in more high-quality clients and make a clear impact to the business’s bottom line.


sales-team-marketing-automation-content-marketingRead next:  Why Your Sales Team Need Marketing Automation and Content Marketing to Close  More Deals
Produce greater sales outcome >>



charlotte-watkinsCharlotte Watkins is a Sales Consultant at Exceed Heights. She is passionate about building high-performing sales teams and positive sales cultures — enabling and driving others to realise their full potential. She believes that empowered employees and sales teams are instrumental in making a big difference in how organisations deliver on their promise to clients and customers. Charlotte has driven strategic initiatives and business change for major global brands such as Deloitte, Gartner, United Business Media, and Reed Elsevier across multiple disciplines and regions.

jeff-cooperJeff Cooper is Step Change’s Founding Partner. Jeff learnt his most valuable lessons in strategic thinking by spending his own money. His entrepreneurial pursuits began back in 2004 when he started his first business, designing exhibition spaces and running events, eventually giving birth to an interactive event concept later adopted by the likes of Big Day Out and other major festival organisers. A decade later, in 2014–2015, startups Jeff was involved in raised over $1m in investment, and Step Change — which he co-founded — became a multimillion-dollar strategy consultancy, serving clients across five continents. He’s a true generalist, with ownership and Board interests in businesses from retail solar to beauty and beyond, at life stages from startup to over $150m revenue annually.



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