Today’s companies can only be successful when they’ve made a commitment to sales and marketing alignment. In B2B sales, your marketing and sales departments are intrinsically connected. In a perfect sales world, they have empathy for each other, and they have a strong appreciation for the other’s knowledge and expertise.
Successful practices for B2B sales require marketing and sales teams to work together and be on the same page with what it takes to get qualified leads and close sales. When your company closely aligns your marketing and sales teams, you’re on your way to improved performance and greater revenue.
What Is Sales & Marketing Alignment?
Historically, sales and marketing teams have been siloed into different departments. It was common for each department to have different strategies and objectives. There’s been a gradual shift in marketing strategies with a stronger focus on prospects and customers. The shift in focus has created a subsequent shift in the dynamics between sales and marketing teams.
The definition of sales and marketing alignment in B2B marketing is for both teams to have the same parameters for a qualified lead, to have input from both teams, and to work together toward the same destination.
Your prospects and customers are searching the internet looking for content that’s relevant and meaningful to them. Your sales and marketing teams need to work together to produce the type of content they’re looking for that will also lead them to a sale with your company.
To have sales and marketing alignment means that the information both teams are sharing is clear and consistent. Both teams share information on a regular basis regarding what their target market is and the best way to reach them.
In particular, both teams need to be on the same page with their definition of what constitutes a qualified lead for B2B sales. Your marketing department is responsible for bringing in qualified leads. To understand the definition of a qualified lead, marketers need to understand the type of information salespeople need to close sales. One of the main goals for B2B marketers is to develop inbound marketing strategies that answer common questions and tackle specific pain points that prospects have. Your salespeople get that information every day and it’s vital to share it with marketers because it informs content creation and forms the backbone of the marketing team’s efforts.
Your sales team needs qualified leads to have a better shot at closing them. When the sales team effectively meets its goals, it’s a direct reflection on B2B sales marketing. The only way that this can happen is for both teams to work hand-in-hand and be on the same page.
How Do You Know Your Sales & Marketing Alignment Is Failing?
A survey by the Aberdeen Group, a research company on buyer behavior, sheds insight on how to tell if your sales and marketing alignment is failing. The survey showed that of the best in class companies for sales and marketing alignment, 20% achieved average growth as compared to laggard companies that experienced a 4% decrease in growth.
The survey also showed that 47% of their sales were generated directly from the marketing pipeline. This percentage compares with only 5% of laggard companies. The overall message from the survey clearly shows that when your sales and marketing efforts are misaligned, your company is leaving money on the table.
When the workflows between your sales and marketing teams aren’t well-defined and both teams lack a mutual understanding of lead management activities, your sales are bound to suffer.
The key to sales and marketing alignment is to use systems and solutions that increase collaboration and sharing between the marketing and sales departments and to encourage a spirit of working together.
Aligning Sales & Marketing
Consumer habits around buying decisions have evolved. To continue being successful, sales teams have needed to change their long-standing sales practices. Success in sales is no longer defined by a “numbers game” where the more people they contact, the more sales they are likely to close. Today’s sales teams need to form a closer relationship with their marketing departments, so they get better quality leads.
Misalignment between the marketing and sales teams is the primary reason that sales decline or stagnate. Sales and marketing alignment efforts need to be a long-term strategy. Otherwise, they don’t benefit anyone, and they lead to a waste of efforts and resources. When you achieve a healthy sales and marketing alignment, you will gain the benefits of achieving higher win rates, increased revenue, and greater customer retention.
Best Practices to Improve Your B2B Sales
Fortunately, there are plenty of best practices to improve your B2B sales.
First, you need to develop a common definition of a qualified lead and ensure that the marketing and sales departments agree on it and are committed to it. Hint: sales and marketing teams can align with customer support to get a better idea of who uses (and wants) the product.
Second, you should establish a formal planning process between your sales and marketing teams. In light of best practices, involve your marketing team in prospecting activities and communication. This will convey to them the same language the sales teams are using.
Next, be sure to align and articulate common goals for the B2B marketing and sales teams. Are the roles and responsibilities for lead management activities well-defined at all levels? If not, they should be.
New best practices for sales and marketing alignment call for marketing representatives to meet and talk with customers frequently, which would have been unheard of in the past. This is an important step to ensure that marketing and sales teams have a mutual understanding of your customer’s needs.
Another thing to be aware of is working together to enhance the lead management process through each part of the marketing and sales cycles. For example, there should be a formal process for the marketing department to reject sales leads. The sales teams should also have a formal process for rejecting leads and circling feedback to the marketing department.
Finally, your company should establish a formal debriefing protocol where the marketing and sales teams can discuss wins and losses.
Aircall was designed with the goal of bringing empathy into the conversations between marketing and sales teams. Aircall responds to the needs of remote teams and distributed teams. We offer your business an integrated, easy-to-use cloud-based phone solution to assist your efforts of sales and marketing alignment. As your company adapts new technologies, you can use integration via open API to better supply your sales and customer service representatives with the right information in real-time. With Aircall, marketing and sales alignment will become your new best in class standard.