The marriage of marketers and sales reps continues to be a hot topic in the era of content marketing. Fortunately, along with the emergence of the B2B sales revolution and the concept of content selling, there is a consensus that companies should invest in that "marriage". The pertinent question now seems to be: how should organisations approach enhancing the alliance between marketing and sales in order to maximise revenue?
Time for Objective Evaluation
Before diving into a checklist of practical solutions, you first need to determine the current relationship between all marketers and sales reps inside your company. As a bottom line, the evaluation should be part of your digital marketing strategy and approach and thoroughly assess the following aspects between the two teams:
- Aligned goals and objectives
- Processes, work flows and technologies
- Access to and usage of content assets
- Involvement in lead nurturing campaigns
- Contribution towards increasing conversion rates
You can also use Harvard Business Review’s “How Well Do Sales and Marketing Work Together” sheet that allows you to determine a score of alignment and integration between your marketing and sales teams. Once you have diagnosed the situation, it’s time for action.
Sales and Marketing Alignment Checklist
Your company can undertake some practical steps in order to achieve a productive relationship between marketing and sales.
1. Communicate a common goal/objective
Every company’s overall goal is related to profit in one way or another. Logically, every employee’s efforts is geared to the same result. Often, however, when adopting their daily routines, marketers and sales reps act like two independent teams trying to “score” in two different goal posts. Sometimes employees obsess over short-term goals and lose sight of the big picture. Make sure you don’t let that happen with your marketing and sales forces. Find a way to communicate your organisation’s long-term direction to both teams, so ensuring that individual efforts are in line with the company's overall goals.
2. Consider the importance of physical presence and social activities
Many organisations underestimate the significance of positioning their separate teams carefully. True, physical encounters are less important in this era of digital communication. However, proximity helps. Try to position the sales and marketing teams next to each other. You will achieve fewer misunderstandings, faster agreement upon content assets, mutual support for using technologies and, last but not least, happier employees thanks to the friendlier environment.
3. Define a combined set of sales-marketing ROI metrics
Marketing initiatives require longer periods to detect positive results because gauging success is sometimes difficult. Sales reps, on the other hand, are provided with a clear set of tangible ROI calculations. That’s how conflict arises. In the era of content selling, however, you have to avoid sales teams feeling superior just because they have more tangible yardsticks of success. Adjust your key ROI criteria for both teams by evaluating their efforts as part of a joint ROI metrics system.
4. Incentivise both teams equally
Just because a sales rep managed to “close” a deal doesn’t mean that he is the only one who deserves all the remuneration (financial bonuses). Consider spreading the incentives for successful conversion equally among everyone who played a role in the buying cycle.
5. Deploy marketing automation technologies
Nothing will help you to bridge the gap more between marketing and sales than marketing automation: the ultimate tool for sales enablement. Content assets are both teams’ fundamental weapons for discovering, targeting and interacting with prospects. They are invaluable because they provide an automated platform where they can create, evaluate and adjust content in a synchronised and timely manner. What is more, technologies like lead nurturing and scoring programs will automatically score individual actions, enabling both marketing and sales teams to quickly identify the current stages of leads within the buying cycle and consequently - optimise their efforts towards achieving high conversion rates.
6. Adopt mobile sales enablement technologies
The era of content marketing requires your sales reps to have constant access to a set of personalised content collateral. You can only provide them with that access the exact moment they need it (usually in client meetings) by tabbing into mobile technologies. But more importantly, as an addition to marketing automation, mobile technologies are a great way to motivate sales reps to invest more time in working closely with marketers in the creation and optimisation of content assets. As with any organisational change, successful alignment between marketing and sales is an ongoing process that requires education, patience and time. A thorough objective evaluation of the current state of alignment is a good starting point. Irrespective of your other strategies, always make the deployment of marketing automation and mobile sales enablement technologies a high priority. This is the only way to ensure there is a reserved place for your company's name in the list of "Successful organisations in the era of Content Selling " in future.