Getting marketing and sales on the same page is crucial for giving prospects a unified experience when dealing with your company. Companies have faced this dichotomy since long before the internet age—marketing promises something to prospects, and sales delivers on those promises.
But now, the lines of responsibility between the two departments have blurred. With the way that inbound has reformed marketing, marketers are accomplishing much of the top-of-the-funnel legwork that salespeople used to do to gather leads.
In a perfect world, marketing and sales help each other by continuously building off of each other’s work. But sometimes, there’s latent territorialism between the two and confusion as to who does what. Because of their now-overlapping roles, sales and marketing efforts must be collaborative and unified through shared values, methods and goals.
To align sales and marketing, use these six tips to improve the process of gathering and converting sales-qualified leads.
1. Create and plan content calendars together
Since marketing starts the lead-gathering ball rolling, it tends to take the lead on brainstorming, producing and publicizing the inbound content that makes up the backbone of the marketing strategy.
But salespeople learn about buyers more directly through their efforts, discovering their specific pain points and ideals. Marketing shouldn’t create a content strategy without taking the insights sales has gathered over time. Get both in the same room when strategizing to make your strategy better and more well-rounded.
2. Use prior experience to refine the concept of ideal prospects and leads
The same applies for defining the prospects you want to focus on. Cultivating a voice for your content should be a continual process of refinement. The sales department, by closing on qualified leads, learns what type of prospects respond best to what you’re offering. Develop a clear picture of the needs of your buyers—especially in terms of the many decision-makers involved in a B2B purchase—so both departments can address them better.
3. Pool data and draw comprehensive observations from the whole
Marketing isn’t the only department that should be gathering and analyzing data. Surprisingly, around 63 percent of companies don’t fully share their data between departments.
Analytical data is the root of gathering actionable insights. The more both departments have access to that data, the more potent those insights become.
4. Sit in on each other’s work on occasion
Strategy sessions are all well and good, but they provide little insight into how the strategy works in action. To get practical insights, one department should take the time to occasionally watch the other in action. Marketing should observe what sales does to close on a prospect and sales should see how marketing’s efforts gather the leads initially.
5. Support each other in and out of the workplace
Use marketing content to celebrate your salespeople’s efforts by publishing profiles on them and their efforts. Salespeople should use their interactions with buyers to gauge what marketing efforts resonated with them. To do this genuinely, make the two departments more tight-knit by encouraging collaboration in the workplace and holding social events outside of it.
6. Define the handoff point
A crucial question arises at the heart of this collaboration: What is the point at which sales should take over for marketing in nurturing a sales-qualified lead?
Think of it like the pitching staff on a baseball team. There’s the starter—marketing—who starts the game and goes as deep into it as possible to set up their team for success. Then, there’s the bullpen—sales—which sees the game through for a win, culminating with closing out the game, or sale.
In a baseball game, a starter doesn’t always go five, six, or seven innings—there are different circumstances and different results in each game, similar to the sales process. But for both situations, there are signs that the time has come to hand off the responsibility to the late-game relief.
With sales and marketing working together to cultivate leads, the sales department isn’t just sitting idly while marketing does its thing. But call on sales to hammer down a sale once marketing has thoroughly courted prospects and addressed.
The only way to have a clear plan for this is through collaboration and alignment. Then, you’ll have a seamless transition for prospects when moving along the sales journey, creating a cohesive experience for buyers and better conversion rates.