Sales and marketing must work together to reach a common goal: to increase growth rate and revenue. The more these segments are able to synchronize their strategies and goals, the more they produce high-quality leads to convert into sales. We asked experts for their best sales and marketing alignment tips that improve overall business performance.
Here are 26 pro tips for effective sales and marketing alignment:
1. Match Your Sales Message & Landing Page
Jason Feemster, President, Point of Sale USA
A great way to generate quality leads for your sales team is by using paid ads. One tip for better quality leads when utilizing Google Ads or any other type of paid advertising platform is your ads keywords need to match the sales message on your landing pages. How do you create your ads and landing pages based on what you sell? It’s easy—don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at what your competition is doing and replicate the strategy, but never copy. Change the content on your ads and landing pages to match keywords your customers are searching for, and your lead count and quality will skyrocket.
2. Hire a Marketing Manager With a Sales Background
Kas Szatylowicz, Outreach Coordinator, Nightwatch.io
Hiring a marketing manager (or chief of marketing operations) with the sales experience to supervise the work of both teams can be a crucial step in ensuring that both teams are striving toward the same goal. Having a person solely focused on leadership and supervision is what can be a tipping point in achieving the set goals and fully integrating both teams. The job of such a person would be to create a friendly and honest environment, provide tools for effective communication, and ensure the uninterrupted flow of relevant information and data to improve the efficiency of all employees.
3. Integrate Your Data
Nick Hladush, Content Marketer, NEWOLDSTAMP
Integrating sales and marketing is not that difficult if you integrate the data used by both teams. Basically, you should make these two departments work as one. For example, ask your sales to use email signatures that contain promo banners from a specific marketing campaign. As email is one of the most useful lead generation channels, you’ll see the results in no time. In addition, this will contribute to more cooperation between teams, which will make a better environment at work in the long run.
4. Categorize Your Customers
Sharline Shaw, Founder, Leelinesourcing
When it comes to the marketing and sales alignment, categorizing your customers will be the best practice when their goals align to improve your business. This means you can offer different services for different grouped customers. For instance, a sourcing agent for small- and medium-sized ecommerce sellers like ours can categorize its customers based on their business values. It can then adopt different measures for different groups of customers and offer special incentives to encourage the order quantity of old customers at a certain time.
5. Automate Your Email Marketing Campaign
Maggie Aland, Marketing & Review Editor, Fit Small Business
Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing tools for businesses. By automating your email marketing campaign, you give your sales team access to data and other information to improve their strategy. Really Simple Systems is cloud-based sales management software designed for small businesses. They offer email marketing features that allow you to track the volume and value of leads, opportunities, and sales, so your marketing and sales team can adapt in real-time for maximum lead conversion. Visit Really Simple Systems and sign up for their free trial today.
6. Provide Equal Motivation to Both Teams
Matej Kukucka, Senior Growth Marketer, LiveAgent
This is a tricky part because it’s often easier said than done. The trick that might do the job is shared quarterly bonuses. This requires having equal responsibilities for both teams with clear outcomes. Also, they need to be equally motivated to get better results, e.g., the marketing team is motivated to increase leads from organic search by improving their website SEO if the sales team is constantly improving conversion rate from this source.
7. Let Both Teams in on Revenue Meetings
Homer Nievera, CEO, ContentWritersPH.com
Both sales and marketing teams know that the end in mind is revenue. When discussions are aligned on a common goal—especially when money is involved—the room gets heated up in a positive way. Excitement levels increase and both teams exchange ideas and insights on the floor. Eventually, revenue targets are set while incentives for both teams are agreed on. From that point moving forward, the marketing programs are meant to fit the sales team’s battle plan.
8. Encourage Collaboration
Karla Pincott, Managing Editor, Business Woman Media
You need marketing staff, and you need sales staff. What you don’t need is a “silo” structure that keeps them separate. Combine the two teams and give them shared goals, so the group as a whole feels ownership of both the marketing ideas and the sales results. This means (wherever possible) having them share the same floor space, the same facilities—and the same meetings. This removes the “us and them” mentality, and transforms it into an “us” one. Once everybody feels they’re on the same team, they can all start pulling in the same direction.
9. Adopt a “Marketing First” Approach
Asaf Fybish, CEO & Co-founder, Guerrilla Buzz
What successful marketing and sales teams are doing differently is taking a “marketing first” approach. This means that the marketing team is targeting potential customers who have a specific problem and showing them how it can be solved. They start with specific lead nurturing and share information about the product features and advantages in order to win the client. Then, when the lead is “warm” and fully informed in order to make a decision, the sales team steps in to reinforce it and close the deal.
10. Define Service Level Agreements
Mehul Mandalia, Marketing Manager, Moving Walls
What attributes qualify a lead before it is passed on to sales? How should this happen? What are the overall metrics that the teams are gunning for? This could be in terms of targeted customer lists or value of proposals submitted. Not having such a service level agreement in place often leads to miscommunication and blame games. Meanwhile, when both parties agree upon and understand what each team is responsible for, there are clear expectations set. The added benefit is that both teams are aligned toward common goals.
11. Use an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System
Khalid Durrani, Global Marketing Manager, Design Iconic
Through the adaptation of technology in the business sector, sales and marketing integration becomes possible. Knowing and understanding your customer’s buying behavior is only possible if you analyze the sales figures deeply. This is essential for the creation of a progressive and effective marketing campaign, for which implementation of a strong ERP system is necessary. Sales is the area that allows a marketer to walk through your buyer’s journey and to understand all the aspects of that journey. Organization is needed to keep the lines of communication open and connect both teams using an internal knowledge base.
12. Encourage Listen-ins
Henry Evans, VP of Customer Success, PhoneBurner.com
The role of marketing is to create messaging that resonates with the target market. Of course, it’s the sales team that works directly with prospects, not marketing. That’s why it’s so vital to facilitate a direct connection from time to time. Giving marketing an opportunity to listen to sales calls and attend demos and training sessions gives them a firsthand account of the words prospects use, the desires they express, and the concerns they voice. There’s no better way to create content that speaks to prospects and incites them to take action.
13. Document Your Process
Ali Schwanke, CEO & Chief Marketing Strategist, Simple Strat
Take the time to ensure you have a properly documented and agreed upon definition of the different sales and marketing stages—especially what denotes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and what denotes a sales qualified lead (SQL). Then be intentional about revisiting this as a sales and marketing team. This may change over time, especially as consumer behavior shifts. The more teams can keep this information in front of them and an active part of their sales and marketing alignment strategy, the more effective they will be long term.
14. Observe Transparency in Your Leads
Tony Trahan, Business Development Associate, KE Andrews
One thing I believe that can help marketing and sales is to keep transparency from an incoming lead to the MQL stage, and all the way to the closed opportunity. Oftentimes, marketing qualifies a lead and passes it off and then sits there, wondering what has actually happened with the prospect. Use an integrated CRM that keeps the transparency present for the entire team. Marketing won’t harbor any resentment by not knowing what happened to leads, and the sales group can remain focused on continuous dialogue with the client without having to provide regular status updates to the team.
15. Assign Homework to Each Team
Dylan Max, Head of Growth Marketing, Sendoso
My actionable tip is to provide homework assignments to each team. Ask the sales team to prepare a report on what deals closed in the last month and what insights they gleaned from their sales calls. Marketing teams can use that information to develop stronger calls to action (CTAs) in their upcoming marketing campaign. Then ask the marketing team to prepare a report on what marketing campaigns generated the most leads for that month. The sales team can then give feedback on the quality of those leads, which will further guide the marketing team on whether they should double down or continue to experiment with new campaigns.
16. Agree on a Customer Profile
M. Moaaz Nagori, Co-founder & Marketing Executive, Cloudlead
There’s usually a difference between what a lead is considered by both marketing and sales teams. To combat this misalignment, both should agree on what an agreed customer profile is. They can do this by defining aspects like job title, industry, location, job role, and responsibilities. Map out what these characteristics are and come to a consensus. This will certainly avoid future issues between sales and marketing.
17. Create Definitions Common to Both Teams
Stacey Clement, VP of Marketing, Fisher Unitech
There are several action items I work on every day to strengthen our sales alignment. One that I will focus on is creating common definitions. This may seem simplistic, but if you aren’t speaking the same language, you aren’t aligned. Every six months, I sit down with sales leaders and work through the lead funnel definitions and processes. We discuss what we consider an inquiry, a lead, a marketing qualified lead, and an automated qualified lead. We review how the lead funnel performed in the past six months and what changes will help drive our business forward. This allows us to continuously improve the lead flow that is driving the business forward.
18. Send Unconverted Leads Back to Marketing
Katherine Hunter-Blyden, Founder, KHB Marketing
One of the missed opportunities with lead generation is nurturing leads that do not close after they are handed off to sales. Sometimes, after best efforts to get a lead in, get them qualified, and get them handed-off to your best sales reps, a lead just isn’t ready to buy. Of course, this does not mean they will never buy. It could just mean not right now. When a lead doesn’t close, there needs to be a process for sending leads from sales back to marketing. Marketing needs to have a process to nurture returned leads. Ideally, marketing should use information gathered during the first round of nurturing and during the sales process to continue to send relevant content to the lead until they are ready to buy. This could include following up on a birthday, an anniversary, or a competitor’s membership expiration date.
19. Integrate Brand Strategy & Sales Objectives
Jonathan J Mentor, Founder & CEO, Successment
Sales is a push and branding is a pull, and this momentum should be carefully balanced. Integrating the sales team into the company’s brand strategy refines the message for future sales prospects and provides valuable intel for marketing. What persuaded the prospect to move forward with the sale? Was it an article they read? An ad? A social mention? Part of the sales team’s discovery process should be recording the answers to these questions for marketing to leverage intelligently to ensure brand strategy holds relevance and appeal to their target audience.
20. Arrange for Team Building Activities
Chris Smith, Founder, I Am Net Worthy
Every business owner and manager should pursue steps to integrate strong communication among the team. This can happen in many different ways, but would have better results overall if done as an out-of-office activity. The goal is to get your employees to bond and build relationships, even friendships, among the people they work with every day. Some suggestions could be going to a local community event together, picnics, bowling, and other games—anything that will get your employees to communicate with each other. Team bonding is definitely important to make sure your employees connect on different levels, both in and out of the office.
21. Outline a Clear Path of Communication
Nedelina Payaneva, Digital Marketing Specialist, Asian Absolute
Marketers always seem to be running in a million different directions at once, but throughout your daily interactions, it’s imperative that all members of both sales and marketing teams are kept in the loop. If you publish new content, send an email out to the company letting everyone know what was published, where they can locate it, and, if applicable, whether they should share it. Another way to ensure everyone in the company is always receiving your content is to have them subscribe to your blog. To ensure that both teams are hitting their goals, sales and marketing need to agree on what makes your company’s prospects qualified.
22. Leverage Social Media
Alexis Irias, Digital Marketing, Spire Digital
The more we are able to understand the customer, the better we can gain their interest in our offering. Marketing and sales are increasingly integrated and at the forefront is the customer. One way to better understand the customer is through the use of social media, primarily LinkedIn and Twitter. If both the sales and marketing teams leverage these social outlets to understand their customers, then the marketing team can develop creative assets with the customer in mind and the sales team can develop outreach strategies with customer-centric language. The result is a unified marketing and sales campaign driving qualified leads.
23. Get Sales Involved in Content Marketing
Michael Coleman, VP of Sales & Marketing, Medical Marijuana Inc.
There is a lot of synergy between content marketing and sales. I recommend organizing a call periodically, such as once per month or once each quarter, between the content marketing and sales teams. This is an opportunity for the content writers to learn what questions prospective customers are asking the sales team. Do they understand the pricing structure? Are there common pain points they face? With this knowledge, marketers can tailor the content they produce to the questions customers have at each phase of the sales funnel. Sales teams have an intimate understanding of a company’s target customer base because they are speaking with leads all the time. It’s important they pass this information along to the content marketing department.
24. Align Your Team Incentives
Michael Stahl, Executive VP & Chief Marketing Officer, HealthMarkets
One of the key ingredients to ensure alignment between a sales and marketing department is to develop aligned incentives. This is to remind members that they are all on the same team and should all be working for the same common goal of business growth. Having a marketing department solely focused on, say, managing a budget and a sales organization focused on only sales goals does not help the team at large. Have common goals and win together.
25. Provide Sales & Marketing Internships to Employees
Eckhard Ortwein, CEO, Lean Case
One of the biggest causes of misalignment between sales and marketing teams is a lack of regular and effective communication. It’s vital to ensure that these traditionally unaligned teams have regular opportunities to discuss issues and create productive solutions with one another. A simple way to ensure collaboration is to include a two-week internship in marketing to the onboarding plan for sales department newcomers and vice versa. This will help them better understand the specifics and needs of both departments. In this way, we can encourage the members of the sales team to share feedback they get from prospects with the marketing team so they can create more meaningful and grounded strategies. Having walked in the shoes of sales, marketing staff will get a better understanding of the products and services you offer and customers’ needs.
26. Create a Map of Your Sales Funnel
Sam Rexford, Owner & Content Director, CHILLREPTILE
Sales and marketing teams need to come together and map the sales funnel from top to bottom in order to better align results as a team. It’s not enough anymore to simply hand off leads to a sales team. Understanding the target market, buying intent, and the sales cycle is everything. The role of marketing in an organization is to attract, influence, and persuade potential leads to take action, while hopefully removing any purchasing objections in the process. The role of sales is to close those leads. In order to integrate effectively and increase results, everyone needs to have a clear understanding of their role within the funnel, where they can make the greatest impact, and how they can support each other in order to effectively push the goals of the organization.
Sales and marketing integration is a key factor in producing better leads that convert to increase revenue. Keep our experts’ tips in mind to help get your sales and marketing teams ready to maximize your business potential and improve your bottom line.
Have more sales and marketing alignment tips for our readers? Share them with us in the comments.