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Honing marketing and sales alignment strategies can better serve Chief Revenue Officers (CRO) in their efforts for improved business outcomes. Keep reading for five tips that CROs may follow to achieve improved alignment between channel marketing and sales in order to deliver superior results.

  1. Why Sales and Marketing Should be Combined
  2. How to Bring Sales and Marketing Together
  3. Tools to Help Sales and Marketing Alignment
  4. How to Teach the Fundamentals of Sales and Marketing
  5. How to Build Relationships in Your Teams

1. Why Sales and Marketing Should be Combined

If salespeople are viewed as actors on a stage, marketers are the people who bring the audience into the theater. For marketing to attract an interested audience, it’s important to ask two questions:

  1. What are the value propositions for the products and services to be sold?
  2. Where can qualified prospective customers be found?

While sales has the knowledge to find customers, it’s reliant on marketing to translate that knowledge into enablement material. Ensuring a partnership between sales and marketing ensures that all customer-facing language and material accurately reflects the value they will find in products. After all, value is what customers buy.

2. How to Bring Sales and Marketing Together

Sometimes, the relationship between sales and marketing needs more clear definition. In order to achieve the mutual goal of creating more profit, it’s important that everyone recognize and appreciate the precise role they play in the company.

Marketing is most effective when it sees sales as its customer. Marketing produces messaging that compels prospective customers to express interest. In turn, salespeople can follow up on that interest.

Great marketers recognize that top sales professionals know what their customers find value in. Marketers use this information to shape their messaging to reach the best qualified candidates and focus on the messages that will attract them most effectively. It all begins with intelligence from sales.

3. Tools to Help Sales and Marketing Alignment

The currency of sales and marketing alignment is feedback. Marketing aims to create highly effective marketing collateral, messaging, and other materials to bring more qualified customers to their sales teams. They depend upon those sales teams to furnish useful feedback to help them improve their production.

Many collaboration platforms now allow users to evaluate materials provided by others. Marketing is best served when they use these capabilities to gather feedback as rapidly as possible from salespeople using their materials in the field. 

In a very real sense, this is “smarketing;” the value-creation version of DevOps. DevOps brings together the software developers and the operators of the computers that run the software to accelerate user feedback. From there, developers can more quickly upgrade the software which operators deploy, then begin the entire cycle again. The goal is continuous improvement through continuous deployment (CI/CD).

In the smarketing version of DevOps, the faster that sales can provide more feedback to marketing, the faster that marketing can improve the messaging to reach even more qualified prospects. This starts the next iteration of the cycle. Again, CI/CD.

4. How to Teach the Fundamentals of Sales and Marketing

While you may understand the fundamentals of sales and marketing, don’t assume that everyone does. If you don’t know where to start with training, we recommend beginning with the following information:

The fundamentals of selling are best defined by following the course of a typical sales process: Leads move from the broad, unqualified top of the sales funnel to the narrow, well-qualified bottom where sales occur.

Marketing’s work begins above the top of the funnel. They start by offering compelling evidence that a product or service is desirable to members of a target audience. Then, they track those who express an interest in learning more. Since their interactions with the contact are limited, they can’t find out much more beyond that expression of interest.

Marketers set thresholds for their leads; one of which is a marketing-qualified lead (MQL), at which point they will refer that lead to sales for follow-up.

The next step in most sales processes is to greet the MQL and communicate with them to achieve further qualification. Salespeople start by finding out what the customer’s needs are and then seeing if they align with the value the product or service provides. If they don’t, the salesperson may recommend other products and services that are better suited.

Once a desirable product has been identified, the salesperson must then determine the answers to several important questions:

  • Is the customer ready to buy?
  • Is the customer ready to buy from this exact company?
  • What is their timeframe for making the purchase?
  • Have they allocated sufficient budget to make this purchase?
  • Is the contact you’re communicating with the sole decision-maker? Or will you need to convince other people in their organization?

Once positive answers have been obtained for all these questions, the MQL becomes a sales-qualified lead (SQL). At this point, work may begin to produce a recommended solution, a proposal for that solution, and the materials necessary to convince the SQL to buy.

Once the SQL has become a customer, the feedback loop to marketing should bring valuable information back to them to better inform targeting and messaging.

Over the long run, marketing wants to know which materials, which events, and which activities were most effective at attracting leads that ultimately convert to customers.

5. How to Build Relationships in Your Teams

The progress between marketing and sales teams can often be seen as an assembly line of sorts.

Marketing takes untested leads and messages them to identify MQLs. These are then passed along to sales. MQLs can be moved forward to being an SQL, or they might be removed from the process. Sales then converts those SQLs into customers. Alignment between sales and marketing ensures that this process can constantly be improved and propelled to its next iteration.

To most effectively build relationships between sales and marketing, it’s crucial to establish trust above all else.

  • Sales must trust marketing to create and present effective and persuasive materials, events, and activities to attract contacts. They must then trust marketing to accurately identify MQLs. This can help sales feels comfortable investing time and effort into them.
  • Marketing must trust that the feedback they receive from sales is well-considered, positively-intended, and valuable.
  • During regular meetings, marketing benefits from reviews of current pursuits. Reviews can help them learn more about what prospects respond well to and what falls flat. This fine tunes marketing’s messaging. Sales has the opportunity to report on new learnings about customer interests that will inform future messaging from marketing.
  • What may be most valuable to marketing is the opportunity to see which of their promotional efforts has translated into SQLs and closed sales.

Marketing and Sales Alignment: Takeaways

Ultimately, sales and marketing have two different functions that contribute mightily to the customer journey. When both teams can speak the same language, align goals, and understand their role in driving revenue, the joint effort can result in superior business outcomes.

These two groups are inextricably interdependent. One cannot function without the other. Shared goals cannot be achieved until sales and marketing alignment has taken place by being on the same page.

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