6 Strategies to Help You Unify Sales and Marketing Teams

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Marketing Automation

Business couple arm wrestling at the officeThere are many theories out there as to why marketing and sales don’t always get along. If we’re being honest, we know there is generally a natural divide between the two groups in an organization. Since being honest is still the best policy, we should likely say this right out loud and get on with developing some strategies to minimize this corrosive divide.

In my role as President of NuGrowth Digital, it’s my job to make sure our clients have scalable sales and marketing organizations that drive high-quality results. And one of the things I’ve often found to be true is that too many businesses spend too much time trying to deal with the symptoms of this divide, instead of the underlying causes. Leaders spend hours or days or months managing squabbles or fighting over numbers. Marketers end up caving in to salespeople’s assertions that “these leads aren’t any good.” And everyone ends up halfheartedly agreeing with marketing that sales doesn’t give these leads the attention they deserve.

I’ve also found that the things we do to manage these symptoms often kill productivity. They divide a team. They appease people, but don’t really move the needle.  So … let’s get on with moving the needle.

Here are six strategies we’ve found that can help unify sales and marketing teams and drive results.

  1. TeamsCollaborate early and often

It’s up to the leadership team to create an organization that encourages and promotes collaboration between the sales and marketing organizations very early in the process.

This is even more important in today’s era of content marketing, as the pieces marketing produces must be relevant and have impact on the industry to really be effective. So, hitting the mark on your ideation is critical. Funny thing is, ideation in a vacuum often produces very sterile results. You need to get together, pull out the details from all levels of the prospect funnel, and get good ideas on the board.

Both sales and marketing have views of this. Bringing these teams together to work on the content strategy is imperative to hitting the mark with your content.

  1. arrowsSystematize feedback loops

Once a campaign is in the market, it is important to know the impact. This comes from both quantitative and qualitative research into the results. So, you need to set up systems to capture both.

Your CRM should be standardized to capture feedback on campaigns. Standardized drop-down fields are nice to haves on this. They make it easy for a sales rep to point, click, and offer up that feedback. It’s also nice to be able to run general reports that show how campaigns are delivering. This is really the quantitative data.

You should also gather qualitative feedback. Sales and marketing should engage in qualitative campaign reviews. Specific examples should be uncovered. Stories should be told. Successes should be highlighted. Failures should be discussed.

  1. atomIt’s a science … treat it like one

It’s often been said that sales and marketing are part art and part science. Today, the science part has taken a much bigger role, especially when we consider the onslaught of mountains of data we’re now able to gather. So we have to steal a few fundamentals from the science playbook to really make sense of this data.

The bullet points are simple, but the practice is a bit harder:

  • Develop solid hypotheses around the content that will make a difference
  • Define lead stages and anything else you intend to measure. Clarify those definitions – don’t just use a short-hand term like sales- Qualified lead (SQL) – write down a definition and make sure sales and marketing agree on it.
  • Agree which conversions you want to measure
  • Outline a process and expected results
  • Engage in a study of those results
  • Look at both qualitative and quantitative results
  • Conclude, adjust hypotheses, and run the next experiment!
  1. Teach and learn 3D crossword on white backgroundTrain, train, and train some more

The days of operating in a silo are gone. Google has made us all experts,  knowledgeable with a simple search. (And amateur cooks become chefs by watching a 24 hour “Chopped” marathon on the Food Network). It’s time to embrace and accept it. Knowledge is power, and much more powerful when shared.

So get the team together and train continuously. Train on vocabulary. Train on process. Train on messaging. Train on metrics.

Marketing should understand what an introductory sales call looks and sounds like. Sales should know how social media campaigns work. Marketing should understand what it takes to close a deal, including the actual personalities, disasters, saves, and stories involved. Sales should know how marketing profiles contacts, applies scores, and lays out a nurturing program

I’m not saying have they need to give up their day jobs, but cross training is effective and very conducive to a smoother and more efficient process.

  1. Know the numbers … and agree on their value

Graphs of financial analysis - IsolatedThere are all sorts of numbers out there that can be used to measure progress. So many, in fact, that Insight Venture Partners has put out a periodic table of B2B digital marketing metrics.

It’s a great resource that should definitely be used. However, it is critical to remember, as Mark Twain once put it, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”

The key part about the numbers is to make sure they represent the facts. Take time to agree upon the key statistics that you will be tracking as a business. Focus on why they are important to your progress. Then measure the heck out of them and improve!

(By the way, this guy, who happens to be my uncle, is the best Mark Twain I’ve ever seen. The resemblance is uncanny.)

  1. Define and celebrate successes collectively

hA critical element of any team is how you define and celebrate success. Don’t divide here … unite !  Marketing is not responsible for closing sales, but they sure are responsible for teeing them up at a good rate. Sales is not responsible for driving leads, but they sure are responsible for closing them.

You should definitely define small wins and leading indicators for the teams and measure these. Marketing qualified lead (MQL) numbers, new opportunities found, new meetings set, ratio of MQLs to SRLs, and more.

However, for the big picture, take a risk. Define success as a revenue number. Then you can lead the way, and help the teams operate as one.

As President of NuGrowth Digital, Paul Fuller is responsible for ensuring campaigns, systems, and people are aligned to deliver high quality leads, relationships and net new revenue to NuGrowth clients. A founder and partner in NuGrowth Solutions, Paul has led both sales and marketing teams for clients ranging from innovative start-ups to enterprises with billions in revenue.  

Get sales and marketing on the same team. Download this toolkit to find out how to evaluate your current sales and marketing processes, establish common metrics, create buyer profiles, and make sure your sales and marketing teams are driving toward the same goals across channels.

Sales and Marketing Alignment