More often than not, Marketing & Sales are operating in complete silos. As part of my job, I go in and evaluate marketing and sales processes and how they align or help each other. But most of the time, I spend mediating between the two groups. There’s a lot of “He said, she said” between the orgs and they actually begin to look a lot like a married couple.
There’s an extreme “Us and Them” mentality between the two groups when in reality, both groups do in fact have the same ultimate goals- making your company successful, driving revenue, and staying at the forefront of your customer’ minds. With that in mind, in order for both groups to be successful at the SAME goals- they need to be working together.
Marketing and Sales Alignment is one of those buzz terms that gets thrown around but rest assured it’s real. And when it’s woven into your company’s culture, you are remarkably more successful and actually happier. Over the course of my consulting on Marketing Automation and Operations, there’s a distinct difference in the happiness, the willingness, and the attitude of the companies who have truly adopted Marketing & Sales Alignment- or ONE TEAM. Happier employees mean better employee retention, better output, and an all around happier environment. So it’s not just revenue that should be driving your Marketing & Sales Alignment initiatives, it should be your culture and the well—being of your employees as well.
Here are some staggering statistics that show how common it is for a wedge to be driven between marketing and sales.
Bottom line is marketing owns more of the sales cycle than every before. This means sales needs to know what marketing is up to, what they’re promoting, what the messaging is and marketing needs the support from sales to make sure they’re selling the right message and that they’re positioning sales for success with pre-qualified and well-informed leads.
And now we get to the marriage counseling- I literally hear these arguments and REGULARLY from marketing and sales executives.
You Don’t Understand my Needs- there’s a statistic out there from Sirius Decisions that only 10% of sales reps think their marketing counter parts are sales saavy. What this really means is that 90% of sales reps thinks their marketing counter parts actually have no idea what goes on in the sales cycle, they don’t provide sales with useful content in the sales cycle, and that sales ends up actually doing marketing’s job by recreating a lot of the resources they need.
You don’t appreciate all that I do- marketers tend to feel that they’re looked at the arts & crafts center. That no one actually knows what they’re doing and how much work goes into a lot of their activities. And that sad truth is it’s true- but it’s simply because sales has no consistent visibility into the marketing activities that are going on. It may be that a marketing member sends an email summarizing all of the month’s activities & accomplishments and that’s a start but email is a very risky way to rely on your sales reps getting information. You need a more consistent communication structure.
I’m Tried of cleaning up after you- if I had a dollar for every time I heard a marketing executive complain about how sales abuses their CRM, they have no respect for data, or they don’t even bother entering things into the CRM- well let’s just say that I wouldn’t be giving this webinar. In my experience, very few organizations are using their CRM as optimally and as efficiently as they could be- most times it’s a glorified rolodex and your reps are dragging their heals with interacting with it at all. The result is marketing is left with incomplete and unreliable data. That costs money… because marketing will have to find a way to either re-capture that lead, subsidize the missing data of that lead, or worst case scenario, marketing captures an existing lead but they’ll embarrass the company by treating the lead as a new lead when in reality, sales may have been working off their business cards with that lead for the last 3 months. Visibility.
You’re spending too much money- this goes back to the visibility issue. Sales sees marketing’s budget and doesn’t understand where the money could possibly be going. Again, it’s critical that sales gets a line of sight into marketing activities for them to really appreciate the marketing contribution.
Terminology simply means you’re speaking the same language which is why it’s the first place to start. What you see here are the fundamental building blocks of the lifecycle and a great place to start when it comes to agreeing on terminology.
Once you’re speaking the same language, now you have to lay down the ground rules on how the groups will interact and work together.
With terminology and rules of engagement established, now you can get into architecting the lead lifecycle stages. At the most basic level, your lifecycle should look like this one. Get yourself a whiteboard and begin asking the following questions:
Start basically, ask your teams “Where do leads come from?” And “where do they feed into?” “What happens to them once they’re in the system?” These are the keys to get that conversation started and I guarantee you you will begin to identify gaps, bottlenecks, and blackholes.
What most folks miss here is closing the loop. You cannot just have a funnel- it does not account for leads flowing back into the process but a lifecycle allows leads to recycle back through.
This is where the ball gets dropped most often- the hand off.
There are some key pieces to think about when designing the hand-off. First, what is the mechanism they prefer? What are the SLAs that are reasonable but also in line with best practices? Once you’ve connected with a lead how will I as marketing know that?
Remember that no lead should sit in any stage for too long so you need to have mechanisms to move them through, or prompts to remind sales people to stay active. You should run reports regularly to see how long leads/contacts are staying in certain stages and work to see if you have a bottle neck there. I have worked with certain companies who did this very exercise and actually justified hiring more inside sales reps because of it, they then saw their lifecycles shortening and they saw their conversions and revenue numbers go up. Bottlenecks are deadly but silent so look for them.
If you do not nail this hand-off process or the feedback loop- you will spend more money recapturing leads or at least leads’ attention that are already in your system.
Reporting- somehow my favorite and lead favorite topic. It’s a necessary evil but it’s also a means to an end.
You need to be able to measure your marketing & sales alignment effectiveness. These numbers will tell you where you’re being successful or where there’s room for improvement.
It’s not secret that unless you have someone on staff where this is your full time job, you may need to consider an MA or BI tool for this type of in-depth reporting. But the reports are worthless without process and compliance from all of the players so that keep that in mind.
CRM is historically a sales platform. Well the marketing world answered that with a huge up tick in the marketing automation market. There are plenty on the market and they can be insanely powerful if implemented correctly.
The marketing automation tool is the marketing platform that integrates with the CRM to make sense of everything. Here you can see how they each platform manages/collaborates on different parts of the lifecycle. You can see an increase/decrease arrow to represent where bulk of the responsibility should lie.
And make sure you’re using the platforms for what they’re best at. MA kills it at… while CRM is the master of….
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Marketing and Sales: A Lesson in Marriage Counseling