In this world full of uncertainties, there is one thing that is for sure: marketing and sales collaboration is important. And the two need to stop thinking of themselves as oil and vinegar that only come together briefly, when shaken. Instead, they need to start thinking of themselves more as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (i.e. “two great tastes that taste great together”).
At times this may seem like an improbable task. Marketers and salespeople have plenty of complaints and assumptions about each other. They have different goals and priorities. But changing business models, new buyer behaviors, and ever-rising customer expectations have made sales and marketing collaboration imperative.
Fortunately, marketing and sales collaboration isn’t just essential, it’s exceedingly doable. But that doesn’t make it easy. Expect to put your communication, negotiation, and strategic planning skills to the test.
Pull These 6 Triggers for Marketing and Sales Collaboration
Here are six triggers to pull to build an alliance between marketing and sales that will sync processes, boost morale, and drive revenue.
1. Adjust Your Attitude
Marketers and salespeople need to start thinking of themselves as united by a common goal: revenue.
They may take different paths to reach that objective, but they’re heading to the same destination.
It’s not just the front line marketers and salespeople who need to think differently, however. Senior leadership—from the CEO on down—also need to consider marketing and sales collaboration as a force for the good of customers and the company. Pulling the next trigger is only possible when they do.
2. Align Compensation
As Peter Drucker says, “What gets measured gets improved.”
If you want marketing and sales to collaborate, tie compensation to teamwork.
For example, one manufacturer of testing and measurement equipment aligned its marketing team’s variable compensation to the sales team’s performance. This ensured collaboration on everything from lead quality and quantity to process flows to success measures. That teamwork created efficiencies, reduced costs, and increased both marketing performance and sales conversions.
Caveat: Watch for unintended consequences. If you’re compensating marketers on the quantity of leads they provide to sales, for instance, you may get poor lead quality. That, in turn, can translate not only to a lower close rate, but also to less profitable new customers who are more likely to churn.
3. Share Leads
It’s worth the time and inevitable debates to come to an agreement on the definition of a high-quality, sales-ready lead, as well as how many of them the sales team actually needs in any given time period.
There’s no point in passing along 150 leads every week if the sales team can only follow-up with 65 of them—especially if they’re also working their own leads (that they’ll, of course, prioritize over leads that come from marketing).
Formalize the agreement with an SLA that includes who’s accountable for what, as well as what to include in the reporting and exception reporting, and how often it’ll be reviewed and updated.
4. Reshape the Funnel
Changes to business models and buyer behaviors are blurring the lines between marketing and sales. But not all the lines.
Salespeople want to sell and close deals, not develop pipeline. So, the blurring is happening primarily along journey from warm lead to sales-ready prospect.
It’s essential that marketing and sales team agree on where the hand-off should be, what that process looks like, what are the exceptions, and how often to reexamine the lead-to-prospect flow.
5. Co-Create Content
Increasingly, sales leaders want to know what content the marketing team is putting in market.
In some cases, they want to provide input—or a stamp of approval—to ensure that the content is relevant not only to prospects and customers, but also to the sales team.
In other cases, they want to ensure that their salespeople are informed about what prospects are seeing and responding to.
6. Adopt Account-Based Marketing
ABM gets marketers thinking in terms of target accounts.
This can help them better align their activities with the sales team’s activities, in part because the two teams need to agree on such activities as which accounts to target and when. Communication and alignment are essential for ABM to succeed.
Collaboration takes work. It requires patience and trust and compromise. This means marketers and salespeople should be mutually accountable to each other—and mutually respectful of the work each does to engage prospects and win business. Because, when they do collaborate, their differing efforts roll up to the shared success of outsized company growth.
About the Author
Ginger Conlon is Chief Editor and Content Strategist at MKTGinsight.com.