Sales and marketing alignment occurs when those involved in awareness building work together with those tasked with lead generation and nurturing. Because smaller teams often have to perform more than one role, alignment is often easier for small businesses to achieve. However, it does take planning and in some cases, additional training.
Did you know? According to research by Outfunnel and Copper, sales and marketing teams that work in tandem are effectively 70% more likely to see an increase in sales revenue every year. However, the report also found that about half of sales and marketing teams don’t feel their teams are working together as effectively as they could be.
You can strengthen your team and streamline your sales and marketing processes by following these key steps:
1. Review Your Business Structure
Traditionally, sales and marketing are considered separate skills. This is why, until recently, the accepted wisdom was to have one person head up the sales function and a separate individual lead the marketing function. However, this structure hinders sales and marketing alignment and creates unnecessary overhead for small teams.
Instead, the better solution is to organize your business structure to have one person responsible for both functions. This person can be called Head of Sales and Marketing. You may also see them called Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Customer Officer. The title does not matter much—what is important is that this sales leader understands both the skills and essential duties of both groups.
With this person in place, working as one team suddenly becomes a realistic goal. However, this does not mean that all sales and marketing activity should become blurred altogether. Sales needs its role clearly defined, and so does marketing.
2. Develop Your Lead Acquisition & Nurturing Plan
In order for sales and marketing teams to achieve alignment, everyone in the company needs to have a solid understanding of what lead acquisition strategies will be used and how leads will be nurtured. If you already have an existing sales plan, this is a good time to review it to see if there are any tasks that overlap between sales and marketing in order to make the process more streamlined.
You can also learn more about lead generation tactics and best practices in our ultimate guide to lead generation.
3. Clarify Roles
Once you have outlined the lead acquisition and lead nurturing process with your sales and marketing team, you will need to clearly identify where each role starts and where the role ends. For example, everyone needs to be clear on when responsibility passes from marketing to sales—and when it should pass back again in the other direction.
Your marketing team should be tasked with functions such as providing customers with the information online that they need to consider your brand as an option. Ultimately, marketing’s goal is to get prospects to sign up and provide their contact details so that sales can follow up with them in an effort to close a deal.
Those involved in sales should then be responsible for pursuing customers in real time. In a small business with a limited budget, this does not mean that sales waits for leads to be generated by marketing. Far from it—sales teams still need to network and cold call to generate leads. However, sales will also benefit from all of the leads that marketing generates online.
4. Establish a Team Meeting Cadence
Sales and marketing alignment requires communication between the two roles. This means the two roles need to meet regularly. This meeting will then ensure that those involved in developing the next marketing campaign are aware of what messages are most likely to result in revenue while also giving those involved in sales an idea of what the market is most interested in.
Core questions to address during these meetings include:
- How many leads did we generate for sales to work on since the last meeting?
- How many leads do we need to generate for sales before the next meeting?
- What proportion of leads will come from online marketing activity?
- What proportion of sales will come from real-word sales activity? Do sales need any tactical support from marketing to help with this, such as marketing collaterals?
- Are we scoring leads effectively to make sure we are focusing on the right leads?
5. Consolidate Tools for Collaboration & Task Management
Sales and marketing groups that use the same systems are more likely to feel like they are part of a larger team and share information than those that work with separate pieces of software. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a great solution for this problem, as it typically has features designed for both groups.
CRMs allow you to measure and manage every stage of the sales and marketing process. Some, like Pipedrive, also provide a dashboard of the current sales pipeline that can act as an excellent real-time agenda for lead acquisition progress meetings and sales progress meetings.
In addition, while you can rely on spreadsheets or printed copies of reports of sales and marketing numbers during your team meetings, it is more beneficial if everyone is looking at the most recent live information. This is another reason why having a CRM is a critical tool for sales and marketing alignment.
However, it is also important that sales and marketing teams have joint access to other software tools in addition to a CRM. Examples of these include:
- Appointment setting systems such as Calendly
- Video conferencing tools such as Zoom
- Webinar software such as GoToWebinar
- Presentation tools such as Slidebean
6. Adopt a Data-driven Approach for Measuring Performance
Another advantage of using excellent CRM software is that it can provide you with reports that will help you to measure and manage your performance. For example, you can auto-generate reports that make it simple to understand:
- The conversion rate of leads from one stage of the sales pipeline to the next
- The time it takes for your leads to pass through each stage of the sales pipeline
- The proportion of leads that you lose at each stage
The other reason it is a good idea to adopt a data-driven approach for sales management is it makes it clear where the team needs to focus its efforts. For example, if conversion rates from one stage in the sales process to the next suddenly start slipping, your marketing message may need to be adjusted.
To learn more about how to measure your sales pipeline performance, you can find everything you need to know in our sales pipeline management article.
7. Review How Your Sales & Marketing Team Is Rewarded
The final key stage of bringing sales and marketing together as one team is to review how they are rewarded. Traditionally, only salespeople have been rewarded for closing deals, such as with commission or sales contests. However, when sales and marketing are brought together, there are more people contributing to the sale.
Take this into account when developing your compensation strategy. Rather than go with a traditional commission model, you may want to consider a bonus pool for both sales and marketing based on performance metrics.
Historically, sales and marketing worked quite independently. However, since the internet has matured and more customers choose to complete their purchasing decision-making process online, it has led to sales and marketing being much more connected. Fusing your sales and marketing teams results in more sales because you can not only nurture leads online, but also continue to nurture them offline as well.
CRM software such as Pipedrive makes it much easier to view sales and marketing as one activity. This software will help you to measure, manage, and improve your performance in a visual, easy-to-use interface. Sign up for a free trial to learn more.