Together at Last: A Guide to Sales and Marketing Alignment
23 Oct 2017
Until recently, most businesses have approached sales and marketing as completely separate functions with their own responsibilities and KPIs. However, there has been a shift away from this silo mentality. Contemporary customer demands and increasing business complexity are now making it necessary for sales and marketing to work more synergistically.
Sales no longer begins where marketing ends
Today, it has become critical for organisations to break down any barriers that exist between these two roles so that they can align their strategies, processes and goals more effectively. Research shows that when organisations integrate their sales and marketing functions, they see significant bottom-line benefits – generating up to 208% more revenue from marketing efforts and boosting their sales win rates by 38%.
This is often due to:
- A more harmonious and seamless customer experience from first contact to close, and beyond.
- A customer-centric view across the organisation for optimum customer loyalty and lifetime value.
- Clearer, shared definitions of ‘sales ready leads’ enabling marketing to feed sales with highly-qualified leads based on a set of agreed criteria. In turn increasing sales productivity and reducing the length of the sales cycle.
- Empowering sales with relevant, function specific sales enablement materials to engage with more senior decision makers, in-depth prospect intelligence and cleaner, more accurate prospect data.
- Higher motivation levels among sales and marketing staff, because they are receiving more support from each other and working more efficiently.
Best practices for aligning sales and marketing teams:
- Tone at the top: The first step in creating more synergies between sales and marketing is to make sure that this goal comes from the boardroom. Without C-level buy-in, sales and marketing leaders may struggle to overcome any tensions that occur during the alignment process. Both parties need to understand the unique value that each function brings to the table and appreciate this, before agreeing on common goals and action plans. If there’s an executive agreement that both parties are mutually responsible for delivering ROI, sales and marketing will be more motivated to pull together.
- One sales and marketing strategy: This includes a shared definition of what constitutes a qualified lead. For instance, the organisation may decide to follow the B.A.N.T. system for lead scoring and ranking, which assesses prospects based on their budget, authority, need and timeframe. The strategy should also be based on an agreement between marketing and sales around which customer segments to prioritise and which key accounts to focus on. Research by the Aberdeen Group shows that sales and marketing teams in Best-in-Class businesses are more likely to collaborate on lead definitions and have Inside Sales or Business Development teams performing an important lead qualification step, so that only good quality leads reach their sales teams.
- Clear and regular communication: Sales and marketing need to meet regularly to share customer insights and data, performance metrics, as well as progress and best practice. Transparent and regular communication will not only ensure that both teams are on the same page, but also create a more cohesive customer experience.
- A shared content plan: Because sales teams are communicating with prospects regularly, they have a clear understanding of their challenges and goals. Unfortunately, some of these valuable insights get lost in the system, unless there is a central repository for this knowledge or a forum where this information can be shared on a regular basis (like a weekly content status meeting). It’s essential to have a shared system for gathering this input and translating it into sales and marketing content that is relevant and tailored to suit each customer segment. By working together on a content strategy – and ensuring both teams have access to a detailed and up-to-date content calendar – sales and marketing have a better chance of engaging prospects and converting them into loyal customers.
- Access to sales and telemarketing calls: It’s crucial for marketing to listen to recordings of sales calls. Not only will this offer insight into prospects’ pain points, business objectives and perspectives, but it will also help marketing to identify any issues that the sales team may have when it comes to communicating the value proposition – and either adapt this to better suit the market or provide the sales agents with the necessary training. And it works both ways. In the context of telemarketing, call recordings shared with sales not only provide insight into customer needs and interests, they help develop a shared understanding of what constitutes a good lead. This creates a feedback loop that allows marketing to understand what sales really need, identify sources that provide the best quality and continuously fine tune their strategy.
- One platform for data and sales tools: Marketers put a lot of effort into creating sales enablement resources such as brochures, company overviews and presentations, but this could be a complete waste of time if these resources are not easy for the sales team to access when they need them. By establishing one shared platform for sales tools, as well as customer data, both teams will work more efficiently and synergistically.
- Build relationships with each other: By taking some time out of the busy working week to socialise and get to know each other better, the individuals on the sales and marketing teams can build real connections with each other, which creates a more conducive environment for cross-team collaboration and support.
Solving the challenges
Most organisations today understand the importance of alignment – studies show the many benefits of sales and marketing alignment, not least increased annual company revenue, average deal size and brand awareness. However, many struggle to overcome obstacles such as a deep-seated culture of working in silos or a lack of C-level buy-in. Often, the sales and marketing functions are completely disconnected due to differing opinions on how to qualify leads, their own unique set of KPIs, and their own way of measuring their progress and success.
Research indicates that one of the major issues facing companies that are struggling to align their sales and marketing functions is a lack of communication – with almost half (49%) of respondents saying that this is their biggest challenge. Other issues that ranked towards the top of the list are flawed processes (true for 43% of the organisations interviewed); and the fact that sales and marketing are being evaluated according to completely different metrics (40% cited this as a serious issue).
How telemarketing can support your sales and marketing alignment
As discussed, a key reason why many companies fail to unite their sales and marketing strategies is a lack of resources, skills and processes to bring these functions closer together. Telemarketing has a foot in both camps and can provide a unifying role where gaps exist.
To overcome resource barriers, you could choose to outsource this expertise instead of hiring or developing it in-house. A key success factor in setting up a telemarketing campaign is establishing clear criteria around the outcomes that need to be generated. Well-established telemarketing companies, therefore, have the expertise and skills to help clients define the characteristics of a sales-ready lead and ensure that everyone is working towards the same set of criteria. This eliminates the risk of delivering poor quality leads that waste valuable sales time.
At the same time, an outsourced telemarketing function can provide the flexibility to respond to your needs when gaps in the process arise, ramping up quickly to provide an injection of leads at the top of the sales funnel, or responding to a sudden peak in lead flow when enquiries are aging due to backlog. Whether qualifying and progressing inbound leads from digital channels or providing a full telesales function to minimise strain on in-house resource, telemarketing can integrate seamlessly into your omnichannel marketing plan and provide an agile additional resource at any stage of the sales process.
ROI and metrics
When planned and executed professionally, telemarketing also enables you to look beyond just the output metrics of your process, giving insight into leading metrics (i.e. actions taken towards goals) rather than just sales numbers. This helps you to identify which leads are converting, which channels are delivering sales-ready leads and which data segments are gaining the most traction. Thus, future efforts can be refined and aligned around the high priority segments and initiatives.
Data and insights
Telemarketing generates hundreds of conversations with target decision-makers. Often this is a higher and deeper level of interaction than has taken place at any previous point.
This provides an opportunity to cleanse your data thoroughly to support better prospect profiling and segmentation – so that all efforts across teams are channelled in the right direction and focused on key customer data sets.
The two way dialogue, which telemarketing provides also gives the opportunity to test and validate client preconceptions around product and proposition, while gathering insights around customer pain points and objections to build an understanding of the target audience.
Ultimately, this unique market intelligence can be used to build a stronger shared sales and marketing strategy.
Ready to build better synergies between your sales and marketing teams?
As the UK’s most well-established B2B telemarketing, lead generation and market research companies, the Telemarketing Company has decades of experience supporting our clients with an agile resource that can help bridge the gap between sales and marketing functions.
For each client engagement, our robust briefing process helps clarify strategy and encourage sales and marketing to agree on lead definitions, target audience, required outcomes and messaging. Our telemarketers can generate leads to feed the top of the funnel, our lead management experts qualify inbound leads and nurture them to provide a steady flow of sales qualified leads, whilst our Inside Sales teams can integrate with, or supplement in-house teams providing a flexible end to end resource, including full telesales function.