Quora's Top 3 Answers to Sales and Marketing Alignment

After this question was posted on Quora, over 22 answers were posted, and these are 3 of our favorites:

1. From Alain Marchildon

I think that one of the obstacles that marketing and sales organizations face when looking to align is their own misunderstanding on what alignment should be based. They are just trying to get the other side to view the world their way. The truth is that the right thing around which marketing and sales teams should align are their clients.  Marketing and sales need to collaborate on how to have the dialogue with the buyer.
There are three key areas on which this collaboration should focus:

1. Identifying the ideal buyer profile.  Having this profile (or profiles—most companies will have multiple profiles unique to each service or product offering) ensures that marketing and sales will be engaging with the same targeted buyer.

2. To create a map for each profile’s buying cycle. This is more than just time to sale. It’s a full understanding of the buying journey of each profile to whom your organization sells.  Understanding and defining the buyer’s journey will allow you to “walk in your customers’ shoes,” helping both marketing and sales to better understand what they need at each stage, and to engage them in meaningful dialogue.

3. To develop your offer and content maps. These maps are guides that will enable you to deliver the most relevant content to the buyer at every stage of the cycle. Communicating based on an offer/content map will improve the alignment with your buyer, enable 1-1 engagement and deliver a more qualified and educated prospect to sales.

2. From Caroline Gormley

Aligning sales and marketing departments can increase sales and improve the effectiveness of your outreach: Aberdeen Research found that the companies that successfully merge the two experience an average 20% growth in annual revenue. In an ideal world, your marketing team will be creating content that helps your sales team close more deals, and your sales team will use their interactions with potential buyers to help marketing improve content. This feedback system is often referred to as Smarketing: a combination of sales and marketing, a portmanteau of smart marketing, and just really fun to say. Smmmarketing.

It’s easy to understand why you should form a united front, but actually doing it can be the challenging part. My company, Software Advice, recently created a guide for companieslooking to align their sales and marketing teams and how technology can make all the difference. There are three main steps to choosing and using the best software to boost your company’s smarketing efforts. They are:

1. Replace manual methods with software: If you haven’t already done so. Manual efforts take time, lead to errors, and don’t deliver real-time insights. You’ll want a combination of customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and sales automation software systems.

2. Integrate sales and marketing software: Be sure that the sales and marketing software you select can “talk” to each other. If you can’t fully integrate the data between each system, you’re impeding collaboration.

3. Develop shared agreements: Now that you have the right tools in place and you’re ready to execute, make sure everyone is on the same page as to what that execution looks like. Create a formal plan so that the two teams are supporting each other. This means marketers are focusing their efforts on pain points rather than features of the product, and sales people are using  content to guide buyers through the funnel rather than cram them through it with brute hard-sell tactics. Consult team leads from each department to help compose a service level agreement (SLA) so everyone’s viewpoints and needs are equally considered. Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at Hubspot, recommends drafting a SLA that outlines:

  • the quantity and quality of leads that come from marketing
  • the timeline for kicking leads to sales
  • guidelines for sales reps on how to handle those leads once they’ve received them.

If you’re ready to use technology the smarketing way, my company is happy to help. We offer pricing information, product demos, and user reviews for hundreds of CRM software systems.

3. From Bob Marsh

It's all about focus.

Some great comments here about how to create agreement between marketing and sales as to what a lead is. Mark Roberge from HubSpot has written about creating a formal SLA (Service Level Agreement) for Sales. This specifies what counts as a lead and then marketing zeroes in on finding leads that match the definition.

So that's first but even when you have that in place, which you must, you still have two groups that think different. Salespeople fully understand that the leads marketing is generating are next months or next quarters deals, but they are short term focused on what's closing this month. And that's okay because as a company you need to bit this months number.

But, even the best salespeople aren't closing deals all day long. 98% of their time is spent on the behaviors and activities that they HOPE will lead to sales. So if we assume that marketing is brining in the right leads per the SLA, it's marketings job to work with the sales leaders to create energy and focus on the leads that matter. For example, let's say marketing just made a huge investment in a conference. Immediately after that conference marketing wants to create mass responsiveness on those leads to maximize the return.

CEO's struggle because until recently there haven't been good tools to make this process easy to execute upon. Leaders use spreadsheets and whiteboards and contests to try to create attention which are great ideas and can work. But still a pain to manage and execute. CRM systems like Salesforce have the data but leaders are still missing ways to use that data to drive motivation and focus.

Takeaways: Start With Sales Enablement

Their are tactics a company needs to address in order to achieve sales and marketing aligment. We believe it starts with sales enablement.

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