- July 24, 2015
- Sales and Marketing Alignment
5 Ways Marketing and Sales Can Get Started on the Right Foot
The end of every June at TechTarget marks the initiation of a brand new sales team that has just completed a comprehensive sales training and on-boarding program (i.e. sales boot camp). As a marketer, I’m provided the opportunity to present to the new sales class to share my perspective on our market opportunity, the latest research and company positioning before they graduate and become full-fledged bag-carrying account managers. As they head off into the real-world of direct selling, I’m left wondering if we’ve done enough to ensure they are not only well-equipped with the right materials and messaging but with strong alignment to their internal marketing counterparts.
In many companies there is often a rivalry between sales and marketing, so it’s important to align the two teams starting with their initial sales orientation to ensure a productive relationship. It is like those three-legged races we all remember from our childhood – minus the running and the rope – the key is to work together in lockstep and tie yourselves (although not literally) to common goals which for most teams will be around customers and revenue.
However, as much as we try, my experiences tell me that many sales and marketing teams aren’t always first and foremost focused on “getting aligned”.
5 ways to get kick-start marketing and sales alignment today
As we welcome and train a new group of sales reps to the company, maybe it’s time for marketing to get in front of the issue and consider some new ways to get started on the right foot by taking these first steps together:
#1 – Walk a mile in their shoes
Find opportunities to go on sales calls, complete sales training modules, field inside sales calls and become fluent in the language of selling your products and services by shadowing your sales reps as often as possible.
#2 – Listen 2x more
Embrace the old adage, “we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” This maxim should be put into practice by more marketers who should listen and learn from sales. Attend sales meetings, forecast discussions and account planning sessions to better understand the primary challenges your sales teams are faced with every day.
#3 – Solicit sales feedback
Much in the same way marketers seek direct customer feedback, we should also be open to collecting direct input and ideas from sales as it relates to key initiatives. Sales is your one-way ticket to direct engagement with your customer base, so smart marketers should be open to what they say. Ignoring this feedback not only affects working relationships, but is a huge missed opportunity to get in touch with customers and fine-tune marketing strategy. Take out your marketing playbook and conduct focus groups to get valuable feedback from sales teams and make a habit of asking for their input and review on sales materials, messaging and positioning to get a better firsthand view on their specific sales challenges.
#4 – Use the buddy system
Sales is a team sport so it’s important to make sure sales has the full support from their marketing organization during every step of the customer’s buy cycle. Take the time to make one-to-one connections and match-up marketers with a specific sales rep to become their regular go-to-market partner. When making a commitment to your sales “buddy” that you will take certain steps and report back, you are more likely to stay focused on those tasks until they are accomplished. Having a buddy system in place can keep you invested, motivated and will allow sales to feel fully supported at all times.
#5 – Document sales wins
Capture the details around significant sales wins to produce sales win case studies that highlight the anatomy of the deal and make these successful wins repeatable. Sales win case studies help to perpetuate sales best practices and give marketers the opportunity to share sales success stories by “ringing the bell” with key stakeholders across the organization.
While it’s common to have tension between marketing and sales, it’s also an issue that can be easily solved by addressing it as early as possible, starting with your newest sales reps. Many companies have used some of these strategies to turn conflict into collaboration, and so can you — by considering these five simple steps for stronger marketing and sales alignment. I invite you to share the various ways you are encouraging tighter sales and marketing alignment at your company. Please feel free to leave a comment or connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.