When Marketing Met Sales – Five Ways to Work Together to Boost Performance

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Like siblings that scrap, make amends, help each other and then repeat the cycle, their combined performance in pursuit of leads and revenue has generally been flat, leaving obvious room for improvement.

In some respects, marketers and sales people have coexisted for years but have operated at a sub optimal level. Like siblings that scrap, make amends, help each other and then repeat the cycle, their combined performance in pursuit of leads and revenue has generally been flat, leaving obvious room for improvement.

As practitioners that have operated on both sides, we see a recent confluence of evolved data, technology, and functional collaboration that together present tremendous opportunity to radically elevate marketing & sales execution. We explore five practical ways leading companies are transforming sales and marketing optimization, and improving outcomes:

  1. Support joint efforts to “Know Thy Customer”

  2. Agree on a common set of definitions, programs, and KPIs

  3. Double down together on using data, analytics, and fact-based measurement

  4. Commit to systematized and transparent communication

  5. Celebrate success as a team

Support joint efforts to “Know Thy Customer”

“There is no such thing as prospects. There are only customers – they just might not be your customers.”

This mindset keeps us customer-centric throughout the entire customer lifecycle. From the moment we first touch a customer through to ongoing efforts to deepen the relationship – whether toward an initial purchase, or toward a stronger and deeper loyalty. When Marketing & Sales jointly adopt this mantra, they are more likely to join forces to understand the customer’s preferences & needs, and appreciate where they are in their purchase journey. This is critical, since both will have numerous opportunities to gather information about the customer that can help the other’s efforts.

For example, marketing may sponsor an event affording rich opportunities to gather both company level and contact level intelligence. Conversely, Sales is likely interacting with contacts that are sharing valuable details that could help their cohorts tune & personalize nurturing content.

With better data sharing, useful information gathered at events and on mobile devices after a sales or marketing call can provide critical updates to a common customer data repository. Now both sides can use technology to help build customer memory.

Agree on a common set of definitions, programs and KPIs

“The problem is they never follow-up on our leads!” said Joe Marketer. “That’s because their leads are unqualified junk!” said Tom Sales.

Sound familiar? In many cases, it’s simply because the two sides haven’t worked together to agree upon common definitions, supporting programs, and common measures of success. Again, contemporary firms have overcome this obstacle using systems that tie together and make transparent how and when a lead is created, nurtured, scored, and when it transitions from marketing qualified to sales qualified. And there’s more information they can share: which programs have run, are running, and are planned in the future to drive activity – these answers should be available to every sales and marketing staffer. Transparent access to shared calendars and dashboards reduce confusion and encourage collaboration and constructive debate.

Equally important is to agree on key performance indicators, and even align incentives to encourage cooperation. For example, Sales people can be given spiffs for contributing content like go-live and reference information, and Marketing some form of extra credit when marketing sourced leads result in customer purchases. And both parties have a lot to gain if they march to aligned targets around pipeline and new revenue

Double down together on advanced data, analytics, and measurement systems

There is no longer an excuse that data and technology are not mature enough for customer relationship systems to succeed. In a recent study conducted by the CMO Council and Pegasystems, nearly half (49%) of all marketers surveyed report that they must more closely align with sales to provide truly connected customer experiences that maximize customer revenue potential. To meet this need companies are employing better coordinated marketing and sales systems today -many of them collecting and sharing rich data. As a result, analytics-based, rules-oriented and process-driven sales and marketing can be constructed in such a way to predict next best actions that facilitate customer experiences and journey progression.

For instance, the same core analytics that help test and measure the effectiveness of content variations during early lead creation and nurturing can be used to test what content will work best for an opportunity that is deep into the sales consideration process.

Commit to systematized and transparent communication

In a survey of over 300 B2B Marketers late last year, 89% said that intra-team marketing and sales meetings improve marketing outcomes. Yet ironically, in the same survey, nearly 50% cited that they don’t meet because their goals and measures are different. And what would the vast majority discuss if they did meet? You probably guessed it – Lead quality and the issues with converting them.

Yet we don’t believe the answer is to book another standing meeting, where fluid schedules invariably conflict and attendance and next steps carry as much weight as the last HR wellness seminar.Leading companies succeed when systems of metrics, incentives and measurement are institutionalized into systems of record, and become a part of the day to day cadence. Like a scoreboard in sports, you need one version, real-time, available to everyone, and every player on the field.

Systems exist today that allow cross-functional teams to collaborate and capture objectives online, and create dashboards that all can see and comment on. Bold organizations treat reviewing their marketing and sales tactics with the same urgency and agility as they do testing and re-crafting their next software or product release.

Celebrate success as a team

Camaraderie flourishes and destructive rivalry wanes when two teams act as one. Use systems to automate daily activity and measure progress, and use human events to celebrate joint success and create emotional ties.

At annual sales award ceremonies, recognize marketing contributors and vice versa. Incentives are more than monetary. As social beings, people crave recognition and love to celebrate together. Make more opportunities to ensure marketing and sales work together toward one set of goals and operate as a cohesive team.