You can’t pick your family. And like reluctant siblings, sales and marketing aren’t always happy about having to share responsibility for driving revenue. Building a strong sales and marketing strategy requires these two functions share information, work together, and recognize they wouldn’t be as successful without the other.
As business department siblings fighting over attention, sales and marketing might want to be the one driving revenue. With an unhealthy fixation on getting credit, they sometimes fail to recognize that many different levers need to be pulled to realize profit objectives.
As it turns out, the sales and marketing levers are interdependent. These two functions are inexorably tied, despite any rivalry between them.
The Way We Were
Traditionally, there was a more separate-but-equal (i.e., “equal”) view of these two functions. Marketing was associated with fluff, the pretty website, business cards, event materials, and other stuff that sales put in front of clients. Sales, meanwhile, was seen as the primary driver of revenue and focused on building networks, meeting with prospects, and closing deals.
Today, a strong sales and marketing strategy recognizes both functions are intertwined in their driving of revenue. Marketing raises awareness and helps position the product or service in the buyer’s mind. It helps create a sort of gravity that helps sales close more deals. If marketing is working effectively, it can better qualify leads and line up more comprehensive, consultative sales conversations.
How, though, does a business better accomplish this alignment? These best practices will help.
Sales and Marketing Strategy Best Practices
Back to that sibling rivalry analogy. Sometimes, in the case of two siblings having it out, a parent needs to mediate, remind them to play nicely, and reiterate the importance of getting along. With sales and marketing alignment, there should be someone who straddles the two departments and encourages them to work together. Depending on the complexity of your operation, this might be a Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Growth Officer.
Strong strategy begins with both parties sharing a vision of what they can achieve together. Marketing would share what it’s been doing in terms of targeting, segmentation, and positioning. Sales would discuss successes and failures, what they feel they need to close more deals, or what leads are closing faster and why.
When the two are working in silos, they may wrongly assume they’re pulling in the same direction. Marketing may use data to track what turns a visitor into a subscriber into a qualified lead, but then know nothing about what happens with that lead once it gets to sales. Sales, meanwhile, may not be communicating to marketing any issues with the leads. Perhaps some of the marketing qualified leads are not meeting sales qualified leads standards.
Only through information sharing can the teams bridge this chasm of misunderstanding. Once the real opportunities have been identified, it’s the job of marketing to design, build, and optimize an information and lead nurturing funnel. Presumably, marketing has come to this strategy alignment with existing assets and tactics. Now, it’s about aligning those assets with target audiences and where they are in their journey to prompt actions that flag them as genuinely interested leads. This means measuring the activity in the funnel at every step of the way.
Transparency with Data
Marketing may already be tracking what happens with a lead prior to the handoff to sales, but the strategy will be more successful when both functions are providing data insights. Who turns into a sale? Where are they coming from? What has helped them reach this point? What was the tipping point that led to an inquiry? Is there something marketing could cover in its content to help anticipate and address a potential sticking point down the road?
Creating a system around the data makes the “magic” of marketing or “trick” of sales more transparent. One Marketri client recently asked us to quantify what it costs to generate a viable lead for a qualified meeting through the marketing function. They knew already that sales expenditure was driving a certain number of meetings. What would happen if they reallocated budget to marketing? Could marketing do it for a lower cost per meeting? With some back-and-forth, greater visibility into their budgets, and better syncing with sales, we found that the cost of a qualified meeting from marketing was around $12,000 over the prior 12 months. And 42% of those meetings turned into closed deals averaging around $130,000 per contract.
We couldn’t have answered that question without the data, and we now have clear benchmarks that are tied to the real-world performance of their marketing and sales efforts. Tracking everything — outreach, website traffic, downloads, social and more — also gives us greater understanding and prioritization of our effort. For example, email might drive the most overall inquiries, but leads generating from the website have generated the most revenue.
Sales and marketing strategy is built on an infrastructure of data. It’s about showing the activity that happened for a particular contact, understanding their journey better, and plugging into that particular frequency upon contacting them. With data transparency, it’s possible to systematize and scale what’s been proven to work for the business. Because it’s measurable and tied to real-world performance (rather than best guesses or optimism), the lead generation becomes more predictable over time.
The Cost of Transparency
Of course, you may still encounter sales and marketing tensions over ownership of revenue. It even opens the door to commission discussions. If marketing is getting the buyer in the door, why does sales get all the monetary credit for shaking the customer’s hand at the end? If marketing offers the first touch, and many after, why does sales get the accolades for being the last touch?
Regardless of ownership, to really see how the two functions are driving leads through closure, sales too needs to log all of its activity. Everyone has to get in line with that level of documentation and tracking. If leads come through without digital tracking (e.g., phone calls, direct emails, etc.), the sales team must get in the habit of asking them how they found the company. (Referral? Sales conference? Event? Google? If so, what did they type into the search?) And if the sales team is diligent about logging meetings, activity, close dates, and contract values, then the entire journey from lead to revenue generation is traceable and able to be analyzed in detail.
The Value of Sales and Marketing Alignment
With this kind of sales and marketing alignment and open dialogue, no one can hide any more. You’re not going to have the mythical Glengarry Glen Ross “Closers,” who just swoop in at the end of the process, land the clients, and win the gold watch. There’s a greater understanding of what happens and when, down even to how long it might take between someone becoming a blog subscriber and their becoming a customer.
The value of every action becomes clearer. So does the answer to the question: “Was that effort worth it or not?” The predictable system lets the various functions truly play to their strengths. The business can see where it is underperforming, identify where its money needs to go, and go after the real opportunities with fervor.
Sales and marketing strategy alignment is most successful when the two functions think of themselves as a team (like a real, happy family). Marketing then can see how the feedback from sales helps them shape content assets to be more successful, and they can reduce time spent on ineffective approaches. Sales can recognize the value of having marketing doing the heavy lifting of generating awareness and driving lead generation, reducing the number of cold calls and dead ends on their way to hitting quota.
Ultimately, a strong relationship between sales and marketing will be founded on awareness that both are helpful and productive. Then everybody wins.
If you want to reshape your sales and marketing strategy, Marketri’s Chief Growth Officers and Chief Marketing Officers are experts equipped to turn your marketing into a profit center.
To learn more about creating a cohesive team between your sales and marketing departments to grow your business, download our Guide to Sales and Marketing Collaboration.