Both Marketing and Sales work towards the same goal of generating revenue and in fact, the two are so delicately connected and overlapping that most people confuse between the two terms. In order to make the two work in sync, one needs to have a clear understanding of the two terms. While Marketing identifies and studies a prospect, develops strategies to generate interest of the prospective customers, sales takes on the lead exactly from here and actually converts these prospects into actual customers. The tools of marketing include branding, pricing, advertising, market research, event management and others. On the other hand, sales depends on one to one meeting or cold calls to finalize the deal and make it actually happen.
So we have two teams with common goals, overlapping territories and strong inter-dependence. And while the two are the support systems of each other, the paradox lies in the fact that more often than not, the two teams fail to work in sync and co-ordination. The discord between sales and marketing sometimes goes to such an extent that the two end up pulling down each other and playing the blame game when it comes to target achievement and growth rate. Lack of co-ordination between sales and marketing hampers and dwarfs the growth of the business in the long run.
Both marketing and sales are integral part of any business and their contribution in success cannot be questioned. However, when the two join hands their power enhances three-fold times. “Proper alignment between sales and marketing leads to 32% higher revenue, 38% higher win rates, and retaining 36% more customers, in addition to 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster revenue growth,” as per Havard Business Review.
Lack of alignment between sales and marketing: Why?
Unclear roles: If the sales and marketing people are not clear about their roles and responsibilities, they tend to go loggerheads each with a grudge that the other one is encroaching their territory. Lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities acts as a major reason for conflict and discord.
Communication gap: Marketing looks at a broader picture and works with s futuristic approach based on its research and studies. However, sales people are the one who are in actual contact with the market. They know the exact need and expectation of the customer. So, what is actually required is a strong communication between the two for a better understanding and enhanced performance of both teams. However, what we mostly find is that the two teams hardly communicate with each other. As such, they are unaware of each other’s goals and problems.
Discord in strategies: Marketing strategies are based on long term approach keeping in mind product promotion, branding and popularity in the market. On the other hand, sales strategies are based on short term approach keeping in mind the needs, tastes and mentality of the customers. As such, the two strategies often fail to align and strike right cord with each other hampering growth of the company.
Using the other as a scapegoat: When things go right and the figures are complementary, both the teams fight to take the credit. However, when the targets are not achieved, the blame game comes into play. Marketing people blame the sales team for not being able to convert the lead and sales people blame the marketing team for not being able to promote the product properly or give them adequate marketing content to convince the customer.
Alignment between sales and marketing: How?
Now that we know that we know the reason behind the cat-fights and also the need to end this cat-fight, what we now have to focus on is how to end this cat-fight between the two indispensable departments of any business. Let us delve into various tricks that can make sales and marketing work in sync:
1. Talk, talk and more talk
The more Sales and Marketing teams communicate with each other, the more they will get to know about each other’s objectives, strategies, goals and the day to day challenges they face. They can have weekly meeting where they can discuss the problems and challenges they face and what support they expect from each other. For example, the two teams can discuss why the prospective leads could not turn into actual sales or what kind of marketing and advertising tools will attract a particular set of customers. Apart from weekly meetings in the conference rooms, the two teams can keep in contact through online forums and virtual meetings as it will not be possible for sales people to be present at the head office when they are out for field work.
2. Discuss the money, finances and funding
The budget of the company is always limited and the requirements of both the departments are never ending. While sales wants an increase in the budget for hiring new people, enhanced training and incentives to its people, marketing wants increased funding for more research and better and improved marketing campaigns and high quality promotional materials. As such, both the teams should be present at the budget meeting and mutually work on the expected revenues and what the targeted returns have been calculated on funds demanded. This will mitigate the competition for funding and will also make both the departments aware of each other’s targets and goals.
3. Put technology into play
Invest in better tools and softwares to assist and quip your sales and marketing team with more data, more reporting, more collaboration and more information. Marketing Automation Software like Hubspot and Marketo as well as Lead Intelligence Tools like Clearbit, Buzz and Albacross will help Marketing team to provide better and more information to the sales team thus helping them more lead conversion and shorter sales cycle. On the other hand, CRM Softwares like SalesForce and Nimble will not only improve sales efficiency but also help the Sales team to share more detailed, accurate and real time customer information with the Marketing team for a better understanding of the market and consumer needs and traits.
4. Bridging the gap with SLA
The basic reason for conflict between the two departments is that the Sales team believes that the Marketing does not generate quality leads while the Marketing team believes that the Sales team does not take serious and dedicated efforts to chase their hard earned leads. An SLA is a signed service level agreement or a written contract where in each team promises to provide specific, agreed upon performance and is held accountable for it. If a marketing team has agreed bringing in a particular number of quality leads in a week, there should be a clear, frequent and transparent accounting of whether or not the specific leads have been achieved or not. This can be done with an all-accessible dashboard which keeps a track of website traffic and leads and is reviewed regularly. Similarly, all sales activity and efforts should be tracked and review done on number of lead conversions.
When developing plans and strategies, both the teams should work in collaboration so that the strategies complement and assist each other for a smoother road to success. Also, the business should set shared revenue targets for sales and marketing so that the two departments have a motivation to work together and assist each other rather than pulling each other down. Also, company could work on some incentive on these shared targets.
Alignment between sales and marketing: Smarketing
So, basically what we have been discussing about is the term ‘Smarketing’, Smarketing may be defined as the alignment between Sales and Marketing which is achieved through communication and common integrated approach. Times are changing fast and competition has never been so fierce before. Lack of alignment between Sales and Marketing leads to wasted efforts and and annual decline in revenue. On the other hand, according to the CMO’s Agenda report of Aberdeen Group, by successfully aligning sales and marketing, business houses can:
- Generate 32% higher revenue
- Retain 36% more customers
- Achieve 38% higher win rates
If your business has not yet aligned Sales and Marketing, you are already behind in the race. Spare not a single minute more and arm yourself to the goal of aligning the two departments for a higher growth rate and increased revenue generation.