It’s the end of the year and your sales professionals are anxious to close a few more deals in order to make their goals. So they take it upon themselves to go through their contact list and fire off emails to all of their prospective customers trying to set up meetings and offering a free month of service. At the same time, the marketing department down the hall is busy using their end-of-year budget to create an email nurturing campaign that includes a special holiday bonus of three months free service to the same list of recipients. You see where this is going.
If two departments within the same company can’t talk to each other, how are they expected to communicate with their customers? These mixed messages result in confused and often frustrated customers who don’t have a clear understanding of your brand or what you’re offering them. Unfortunately, even though this is a fabricated example, it’s what happens on a daily basis with many companies.
We know sales teams need to close more deals. Marketing teams need to create awareness, conversion and loyalty. So how do you create better alignment between these two powerhouse departments so they meet both their individual and company-wide goals? Below are 5 ways to get started.
1. Talk to Each Other
Communication starts at the top. Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Sales Officers need to communicate on a regular basis with each other and schedule cross-departmental meetings with their teams to ensure that marketing and sales are on the same page — and messaging to customers is consistent. In addition to regular status meetings, it’s important that the two departments work together to brainstorm upcoming sales and marketing initiatives. In addition to yielding great ideas, this type of strategic and creative collaboration also helps build comradery and trust that will go a long way in contributing to the overall success of the company.
2. Define Boundaries
While it’s important for sales and marketing to work together, there are certain tasks each should own. For instance, when sales and marketing folks both send emails to prospects and customers, like the above example, it can be a waste of time and money for your company. It can also overwhelm customers whose inboxes are already inundated with offers and communications from so many companies vying for their attention. The best way to limit confusion and ensure efficiencies is to identify tasks and assign roles during status and planning meetings between sales and marketing (see tip #1).
3. Create Customer Personas
Marketing spends a lot of money on research with the goal of understanding the ideal customer segments for each product or service. Sales is actually on the front lines communicating with who they believe are their ideal customer segments every day. Without the right level of communication and a set of defined customer personas, the two may be completely missing the mark—and the sale. The best way to create customer personas is by combining marketing research and strategies with sales insights. Get together in a room and map out these personas (whiteboards, stickie notes and snacks help). Remember, customer personas can change as your products, services and the market evolves so check back often. Once created, these personas should be reviewed and revised as needed.
4. Tap Into Each Other’s Expertise
Sales and marketing professionals each have different backgrounds, experiences and strengths. By working together, they can build off of each other to create something much smarter and more targeted than either could alone. But there’s also another group that can contribute valuable insights—your customers. Sales calls are a perfect opportunity to extract information from customers that can be used to understand customer pain points, unmet needs, and experiences with your company that can be used in future campaigns and to help guide customer journeys. After all, who better to understand what customers want and need than customers themselves.
5. Putting It All Together
Let’s say that based on previous calls, sales understands that the barrier to converting their software for a specific group of prospects is fear of change, while for another it’s price. They go to their friends in marketing and relay this information. Rather than creating one blanket campaign, they work together on lists and messaging to develop two unique campaigns. For the first target, it’s more of a nurturing, educational approach to help them understand the benefits of this new way of doing things. For the second, it’s an exclusive offer-driven campaign that appeals to their desire to save money. Together, they were able to speak to each prospect in a way that resonates with them.
The Net Net
While there are different tactics you can take to better align your sales and marketing teams, one common thread seems to run through most of them: communication. Whether you’re on different floors, in different buildings or different states, it’s important that sales and marketing are on the same page.