Marketing and Sales Alignment – The Secret to Marketing Success
by Jacob Baadsgaard • July 4, 2016
Most of us have been there…the dreaded marketing and sales meeting when things just don’t seem to be working right.
Usually, it goes about like this:
BEFORE THE MEETING—the sales team
Sales Manager: “Guys, it looks like we didn’t hit quota this month! You need to sell harder!”
Sales team looks around uncomfortably.
Sales Rep: “Well, I don’t want to make excuses, but the leads just kinda sucked this month.”
The sales teams casts a knowing look in the marketing team’s direction.
Sales Rep: “But, I take responsibility…we just need to sell harder and make sure we hit our numbers.”
BEFORE THE MEETING—the marketing team
Marketing Director: “Team, the company missed its monthly revenue goals. We need to market harder!”
Marketing team looks at their numbers and charts in search of a scapegoat.
Marketing Specialist: “Well, I don’t want to make excuses, but we hit our lead volume and and cost-per-lead goals…the sales team just didn’t close them.”
The marketing team nods knowingly and looks suspiciously over in the sales team’s direction.
Marketing Specialist: “But I take responsibility, I guess we just need to get more leads in the door.”
CEO: “Why the **** didn’t we hit our revenue goals?”
Sales Manager and Marketing Director look awkwardly at each other.
Marketing Director: “Well, we hit our goals. What’s the problem?”
Marketing Director gives the Sales Manager a pointed look.
Sales Manager: “There was just something about the leads this month. My team is feeling frustrated with lead quality and their ability to close leads quickly. In fact, a lot of the leads act a bit surprised when we reach out, it doesn’t seem like they were remotely close to considering buying our services.”
Sales Manager returns the Marketing Director’s stare.
CEO: “I don’t give a crap about who’s fault it was! Just hit your **** numbers!”
Unfortunately, if the goal of your online marketing is lead generation, you’ve probably had more than your fair share of this sort of thing.
Rather than working together, most marketing and sales teams tend to play the blame game with each other when things aren’t running properly.
I’ve written before about how sales can undermine your marketing efforts, but in this article, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to set your sales teams up for success.
Is Your Sales Team Killing Your Paid Search Performance?
Shadow the Sales Team
Often, the best marketers start in sales.
Why? Because they understand what happens after the lead comes in.
To put it bluntly, a marketer without a sales background simply doesn’t appreciate the daily battle their sales team faces trying to close leads.
Think about it this way—marketing is a lot like being the setter in volleyball. If you don’t set up the shot right, sales doesn’t have a chance at nailing the spike.
However, if you’ve never spiked a ball, what are the odds that you know how to set it a spike for someone else?
With that in mind, does it seem realistic to expect someone who has never sold your product to market it effectively?
Marketing doesn’t end with leads—it ends with sales.
The After Marketing Story
So, if you want to be a better marketer (or if you need better performance from your marketing team), you or your marketing team needs to experience what happens after someone becomes a lead.
The easiest way to do that is to simply shadow the sales team.
Feel out the whole experience. Learn what words your sales people use, the pain points they highlight and how they empathize with their prospects.
In fact, if your sales team will let you, try closing a few deals of your own. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.
Be a Good “Setter”
Once you understand how sales interacts with marketing, take a hard look at your marketing strategy.
Are you using the same words as your sales team? Does your marketing speak to the same pain points as sales? Is there a smooth transition between your marketing message and the sales message?
In other words, are you setting your sales team up for success?
Get Regular Input from Sales
While shadowing the sales team and even handling a few leads are great ways to get aligned with sales, your job is to market—not to sell.
But, if you want to market effectively, you need regular input from the people who are actually talking to prospective clients every day.
You can’t stop at “lead quality” feedback, either.
A good sales team is incredibly dialed into what your market cares about. As a result, they often have great ideas for content or offers that will really speak to your target audience.
In fact, if you haven’t been getting regular recommendations from your sales team about how to position your product or services, there’s a good chance that your marketing may be seriously out of touch.
Ask the Right Questions
In addition to setting up regular meetings with your sales team (I recommend weekly or at least once a month), you need to make sure that you are asking the right questions.
The goal here is to understand who your sales team is having the most success with, how they are selling your product or offer and what your leads are most interested in.
Here’s a quick list of questions to start with:
- What sort of person (male, female, age, etc) is easiest to sell? Has this changed recently?
- How would you describe your best leads in 3 words?
- What kind of leads would you love to have more of?
- What are your least favorite leads?
- Are there any locations that seem to produce particularly good leads?
- What do you typically talk about first on a sales call?
- Do you have any favorite statements, questions or talking points you can count on to get people interested?
- What sorts of offers really grab people’s attention?
- What is the easiest thing about our product or offer for you to sell?
- What is the hardest thing about our product or offer for you to sell?
- What are 3 words your best leads typically use to describe their problems?
- What do your leads typically ask about first?
- Do you feel like your leads have reasonable expectations of the sales process?
- Are your leads primed to buy?
- Does it feel like there is a gap between what marketing tells the leads and what you tell the leads?
Probing questions like these will tell you a lot about whether or not you are targeting the right audience, addressing the appropriate pain points and setting up your sales team to succeed.
Putting it All Together
Although marketing and sales often seem at odds, they are actually teammates with the same goal—to drive revenue for your business.
If you are willing to put in the extra time and effort it takes to get marketing and sales aligned, the results are magical.
For example, early in my career, I worked with a client to get their marketing and sales teams on the same page. It wasn’t easy, but once we had everyone working together, the company grew from 25 employees to a staff of over 250.
Our marketing efforts became incredibly profitable and the companies made millions in additional profit and received multiple rounds of investment.
And, as you might imagine, the marketing and sales meetings became a lot more pleasant…
You’ve heard my two cents, now I want to hear yours. How do you feel about this? What do you do to take advantage of your sales team’s “boots on the ground” experience?