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Conventional business strategy states that sales and marketing are separate. Marketing generates leads. Sales close leads. Today’s ever-changing digital markets require something different. In today’s mobile world, where competition is tougher than ever and customers make split-second decisions, you can’t afford to have your two most important revenue-generating resources working separately.

When marketing and sales aren’t working together, conflict becomes commonplace, and a silo mentality can dominate their interactions. Marketing isn’t responsible for sales not closing leads, and sales has little to no input on how leads are generated. Opportunities are lost. Not fun.

Today’s companies are embracing “smarketing,” an approach that promotes sales and marketing alignment. This change isn’t a preference; it’s a prerequisite born of a need to connect with and engage with today’s audience. That audience is constantly evolving, and they gravitate toward and appreciate brands that can grow with them.

So, how does this blended approach—with marketing and sales working together—help to generate real-time, proactive digital marketing and sales strategies that drive growth?

The Importance of Sales and Marketing Alignment

Whether your company operates in a business-to-business (B2B), a business-to-consumer (B2C), a business-to-government (B2G), or an e-commerce environment, the speed with which customers make decisions is constantly decreasing and evolving. This requires seamless integration between sales and marketing plans, allowing your company’s interactions with customers to be insightful, helpful, and instantaneous.

When marketing and sales are aligned, additional opportunities are generated, better leads are created, more sales are closed, and more repeat customers are gained. Companies that achieve this alignment see 19 percent faster revenue growth, a 36 percent increase in customer retention, and are 15 percent more profitable than companies that separate the two departments from one another.

Success is anticipating what your customers want and offering them a solution at the right time. The rewards of sales and marketing alignment are increased marketing ROI, lower customer acquisition costs, high customer retention, and ultimately, more revenue. Sales and marketing teams that are aligned are 67 percent more effective at closing sales.

Understanding the Customer Journey

Sales and marketing alignment allows your company to better understand the journey your customers take. That customer journey is different for each buyer persona and may change over time.

To better understand the customer journey, think about how a potential buyer persona (customer) goes from awareness of your product or service to the final step of making a purchase. Is that the end of their journey? It would be if all you wanted to do was make a single sale. Companies thrive, however, by getting customers to come back, which ultimately means the journey must continue.

Buyer Personas

A buyer persona defines all the unique characteristics of a given type of customer. You can have multiple buyer personas who purchase your company’s products or services. Each of them has a different motivation, interest, reason, and purpose for becoming a customer and for coming back as a repeat customer.

Customer Journey

Each of your buyer personas takes a different customer journey. Each time a different buyer persona makes their first purchase, it’s up to your marketing and sales to re-initiate their journey to get that customer to come back. Then, you do it again and again.

The Ultimate Argument for Sales and Marketing Alignment

A unified and cohesive strategy from your marketing and sales teams can properly guide your buyer personas in real time through their journey to becoming repeat customers. Not convinced?

Think about what your competition is doing. They’re pursuing sales and marketing alignment out of necessity. They are using integrated campaign planning, marketing automation, and leveraging various digital marketing channels to be successful.

Today’s customers make buying decisions faster than at any time before, and the complexity of those decisions increases every second.

Whether it’s leveraging different social media platforms, using mobile-optimized and online advertising, marketing automation, content creation, search engine optimization (SEO), or search engine marketing (SEM), companies need sales and marketing to be aligned to fully leverage all these digital solutions.

Strategies for Integration

One of the biggest reasons marketing and sales teams are often misaligned is that they’re working toward separate goals. Companies often ask their marketing team to generate as many leads as possible, then immediately pivot to sales to close those leads.

If leads aren’t closed, sales blame marketing or marketing blames sales. This never-ending blame game is often allowed to continue unabated. So, how do you avoid this outcome? More importantly, what are the strategies you must adopt to ensure proper alignment between sales and marketing?

1. Shared Goals and Metrics

Having shared metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) ensures your marketing and sales teams are working towards the same goals. When your sales and marketing are both responsible for increasing revenue, improving conversion rates, increasing customer retention, growing customer satisfaction scores, and improving customer engagement, both teams put the customer first.

There is no more “us vs. them” and no more blame game. Teams work together to improve the customer experience, win new business, and keep those customers returning. Common metrics, KPIs, and goals ensure a cohesive marketing message that speaks directly to your market and customers so that it’s easy to incentivize, sell, and keep new customers.

2. Regular Communication

Regular communication is essential to a cohesive marketing and sales team. Ensuring continuous collaboration requires consistent planning. Weekly metrics and KPI review meetings, joint planning sessions, and shared digital platforms all help to maintain cohesion between your two customer-facing resources.

Digital platforms should allow for interactive dashboards that provide teams with metrics and KPI updates on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Regular communication allows sales to provide instant feedback on the quality of opportunities so that marketers can adjust their digital marketing strategies.

3. Cross-Team Training

Every company has an expert. Every company has one individual who has a skill set, knowledge, experience, or insight that others don’t. Use them. These subject-matter experts are great solutions for cross-team training. A subject-matter expert can be a salesperson, business development manager, or digital marketer. They can also be an engineer within your company willing to do product demonstrations.

All can play a vital role in cross-function team management. Whether it’s sales giving a lunch-and-learn session to marketing about customer feedback or marketing providing invaluable insight into how they use different digital channels to drive targeted website traffic, both can learn from each other.

Another benefit of cross-team training is how marketing and sales learn to appreciate each other’s roles and responsibilities. Marketing can gain invaluable insight into the struggles the sales team often faces when struggling to close certain deals. That insight may allow marketers to tweak their message or adjust their digital strategies.

  • Leverage your subject-matter experts.
  • Use lunch-and-learn sessions.
  • Plan weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings.
  • Plan activities and getaways that foster collaboration.

4. Integrated Campaign Planning

Think about a trade show, conference, or exhibit your sales team recently attended. Think about a recent product launch or the last time you ran an inventory clearance, customer reward program, or other incentive. Think about a recent digital advertising campaign. Now, think about how much more successful all those activities would have been if your sales and marketing worked as one.

Your marketing team doesn’t need sales experience to be able to help with sales campaign planning, and your sales team members don’t need to become expert digital marketers to provide insight into what customers want.

Your digital marketing campaigns can increase attendance at future trade shows or conferences by providing customers with tailored content, email marketing, and other digital strategies. Sales can help marketing create more engaging, thought-provoking content by explaining common customer problems and concerns.

5. Leveraging Technology

In the end, it’s all about leveraging technology for the benefit of your marketing and sales team. CRM systems, marketing automation, content planning and scheduling systems, sales platforms, and data analytics platforms all help to improve communication between sales and marketing while upgrading the customer experience.

Your CRM resources can be leveraged by your digital marketing team to tweak their marketing message. They may choose to revamp their keyword and phrase usage to drive more targeted traffic to specific landing pages. They may decide to produce how-to content that helps customers resolve a common issue.

Best Practices and Common Pitfalls

Success begins and ends with having the same goals and measuring success in attaining those goals with universal metrics, analytics, and KPIs. The moment you veer away from that, problems begin. The most common pitfall is becoming shortsighted and going back to how things used to be done out of comfort.

First, focus on continued and open communication. Second, ensure buy-in from senior management and leadership. Third, constantly reiterate that the need for improved communication is to constantly keep your customers engaged. Finally, give your team the best technology.

Put an End to Tribalism: Get Your Sales and Marketing Together

Granted, all this may seem overwhelming. However, don’t despair. As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day, and you’re not going to go from 0 to 60 in record time. Start small. Remain committed to your common goals, adopt a continuous improvement philosophy, and foster an environment where collaboration is natural for sales and marketing.

If you do these things while measuring results and adjusting as necessary, you will succeed.

If you’re looking for a different kind of digital marketing partner, one that improves your customer relationships, grows your online presence, and improves how your sales and marketing collaborate, contact us now.

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