In sporting teams you generally have two different types of players, offence and defence. They have unique skills to excel in their role, if you asked one to do the others role they would probably fail. But they complement each other’s skills and all work towards the common goal. One rarely excels without the other.
In business no two units are more reliant on each other than marketing and sales. Since the beginning of time the relationship has been strained with the disparate organisations who were competing for the same resources, yet were trying to reach the sale goal in their own unique way. As a junior sales rep, I heard that it was “marketing’s fault that we were missing our number, leads were always bad.” My old sales manager used to say that marketing was good for two things, spending money and getting in sales way of making money! This sentiment seems to hold true today. A recent statistic from the Corporate Executive Board stated that 87% of sales & marketing professionals use negative terms to describe each other.
Imagine if there was animosity between the offense and defence of your favourite sporting and they weren’t communicating together as a cohesive unit. It would spell disaster for any team, when both units work independently they not only lose the game but damage the team environment and create a toxic culture between the two disparate units.. This is exactly scenario we see playing out between sales and marketing, resulting a lot of missed opportunities and failing to achieve the ultimate goals.
Fortunately for many sporting teams strong cohesion between disparate units within a team has been a clear indicator of future success has been pursued relentlessly by coaches and teams. Why aren't sales and marketing working more like the Wallabies, reliant on our team mates individual strengths to get complement our respective skills to achieve the common goal?
The good news
Change is here. The rise of digital marketing and CRM adoption brought in the era of accountability so you can create a view of the touch points with your customer through engagement funnel of the organisation from Attract > Convert > Close > Delight. This means that marketing can now attribute spend to particular sales leads and sales can view which leads convert into the most profitable deals. A win-win for both parties as they march towards a single company vision.
So how do you implement this? Here are a 4 keys to creating alignment between sales & marketing, what Hubspot refers to as 'Smarketing'
1. Commit to a common goal
You need to find the one common denominator between the sales and marketing activity, in most organisations that means one thing - money.
To set the goals look at how each organisation, team or individual contributes to those goals you need to create an integrated marketing/sales funnel from lead acquisition through to sale with each party committing to achieve their funnel goals.
Writer of Cracking the Sales Management Code, Jason Jordan, described it perfectly, limit the number of metrics measured to those you can have a direct impact and are the leading indicators of success.
Having leading metrics aligned with a singular goal means that each group is vested in the others success, creating accountability and clarity of purpose between marketing and sales.
If you need help creating the common goal you can use this simple worksheet we created.
2. Integrate your marketing automation and CRM systems
A simple one but often over looked. Not only does a seamless integration deliver efficiencies for marketers and sales reps throughout the funnel, it provides a single source of truth for reporting and honest conversations about funnel performance.
3. Create a service level agreement
The most critical area in the Smarketing relationship is when a customer is passed between the two different functions. It is too easy for sales reps to say lead quality is bad when they are only reaching the prospects voicemail and giving up. Sales needs to agree and commit to a follow up cadence to ensure that they have exhausted the opportunity before they throw it back into the marketing pond.
4. Close the loop
The often forgotten step. As a team you need to regularly check in on the performance towards your goals and ensure that marketing is providing sales the right support to follow up on leads effectively and sales is giving regular constructive feedback on how to get better lead quality.
Whether on the sporting field or in the business world the key to success is to leverage the strength of the individuals to work together as a team and pursue a common goal. Sometimes there can be a challenge defining the common goal so we have created this worksheet for sales and marketing to complete together.
Hopefully these four keys, and free worksheet, can help create the goals and structure within your own teams to achieve better communication, and ultimately, better results.