Traditionally, sales and marketing teams have been in conflict, and this rivalry can cost the company in a big way.
I can confidently say that when there is alignment between these two teams, metrics improve and costs tend to decrease. In fact, those companies with closely aligned sales and marketing teams usually have higher customer retention rates.
So why do these two teams put themselves in conflict and at a disadvantage more often than not? And at what point do they need to start working together? It all starts by increasing marketing’s understanding of sales and vice versa.
As someone who comes from a sales background and now does both marketing as well as sales, I see this from the vantage point of looking at hundreds of different brands that we have either worked with or audited.
Marketers Need to Think Like a Sales Team
In business, the landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years. Executives and customers alike are inundated with information left and right. Traditional sales strategies that were once successful no longer produce the same outcomes.
That said, conventional sales strategies and cold calling are definitely alive and well, but changes have been made. Sales teams are deploying these philosophies through innovative and modern digital marketing mediums to help them scale rapidly. As a result, marketing teams need to start thinking like a sales team when it comes to developing their B2B strategies.
This is something we learned quickly during the founding years of Power Digital.
By marrying traditional consultative sales tactics with contemporary marketing approaches we were able to create scalable, highly-targets, and efficient strategies. Since then, this method has become an integral part of our success and is a key driver in helping us to become one of the fastest growing companies in the nation. We have landed on the Inc. 5000 list multiple times, garnered awards from publications like Entrepreneur Magazine, and have been named one of San Diego’s fastest growing companies nearly every year of our existence.
Outside of our incredibly hard-working team, we attribute most of our success to the seamless integration of our sales and marketing teams and, as a result, we continue to see almost 100 percent growth year over year. But we don’t just deploy these strategies ourselves, we work with our clients to make them a part of their process as well. Why? Because they are successful in increasing B2B sales.
Not sure where to start?
Here are four things that you can do to help bring your sales process into the 21st century while effectively scaling your business.
1. Ensure Marketing Understands the Sales Cycle
In order to provide your sales team with qualified leads that are ready to make a purchase, they have to understand what the sales cycle looks like. From discovery and assessment, to proposal and close, marketers need to be deeply intimate with the process so they have a clear picture of what the sales team is dealing with during their cycle and what obstacles they commonly have to overcome.
Similarly, the messaging that both teams are using should be the same. Sales teams typically have a short elevator pitch that successfully piques the interest of a prospect, getting them to give the salesperson the time of day. If this message is different than whatever was provided in the marketing materials the prospect has already seen, there is a problem. These two teams need to have a constant dialogue back and forth about what messaging is working and what is not, helping each other to improve and keeping the messaging consistent across teams.
Finally, marketing teams have to work with sales teams to understand who the ideal customer is. Salespeople are on the front lines of interacting with prospects and clients so they often have great insight into the type of person who needs your product or service. In this sense, you want to focus on the quality of leads over the quantity and target the right people. As you measure goals conversions in your analytics platform, be sure to score your leads on quality, not just volume.
2. Modernize Your Sales Team
Even the best salespeople are often very inefficient and do not leverage automation well. They tend to be inconsistent with the prospecting practices, forgetting to continue prospecting when their pipeline is full, resulting in large peaks and valleys in their performance over the course of a year and a need to build pipe back up before they can close more. Unfortunately, through all this, many salespeople do not collaborate with their co-workers in marketing who should actually be their allies and confidants.
Rather than show their marketers what they can do better and helping them improve the lead prospecting process, they point their fingers at them and just complain that marketing-sourced leads aren’t good enough. Ironically, the sales team usually doesn’t use their CRM to its full capability, which would not only help them stay organized but ensure that the marketing team has access to the best data possible. It’s a vicious cycle that usually ends with marketing throwing more time, money, and energy in trying to drive more and better leads for their sales team when in reality a simple conversation could help drastically increase efficiency for both departments.
3. Consistently Reevaluate Your Sales Process
A successful sales process is not something you set and forget. Many sales teams rely on the old adage, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” But even if your sales team is currently successful doesn’t mean they always will be.
Your team needs to be ready to pivot their process in response to changes within the marketplace or the challenges their customers are facing.
If they aren’t able to achieve this agility, a successful team can begin failing quickly. The same goes for individual salespeople. Just because an individual member of the team is a top closer, doesn’t mean they have the best practices, but may just be the best of a bad group.
To combat this complacency, make sure you are constantly evaluating your sales process and your team’s adherence to your company’s standard sales practices. You may even find it valuable to bring in a third party to complete this evaluation to ensure completely impartial results.
Look at everything you can to help determine if and where your sales cycle might be breaking down. The metrics available in your CRM are a good place to start, but you will also want to look at more qualitative components as well. Ask your sales team to walk you through the questions they ask on a discovery call, how they present a proposal and the method by which they close the deal while maintaining momentum. Ultimately you are trying to evaluate how the sales team aligns with their prospects and supports them throughout the process.
This type of evaluation may seem like overkill, but if you are not scrutinizing your team this heavily, you are leaving profit on the table and may have lackluster sales people slipping through the cracks unnoticed. By ensuring your entire team is performing in the most efficient way possible, you are less likely to miss out on revenue opportunities.
4. Unite Your Teams Under a CRO
The role of Chief Revenue Officer, or CRO, is the future for sales and marketing teams. It no longer makes sense to have marketing under the leadership of a Chief Marketing Officer and sales reporting to a Vice President of Sales. Instead, both teams should be united under the singular leadership of one CRO, married in their practices and working together to support the growth of your company.
When looking to fill this role, you need to find someone who has proven they can get the job done and is familiar with every aspect of both the sales process and marketing strategies. This person is an analyst, leader, manager, and recruiter, with the ability to interact with and inspire both salespeople and marketers.
That’s a tall order but the search will be worth it because they will be able to run the sales process in its entirety, including marketing as the beginning of that process. So if you don’t have this role, or are not focused on filling it, you may be unintentionally stunting the growth of your team.
The bottom line is that the way marketing and sales teams interact is changing, which is a great opportunity for everyone involved. Sales teams are becoming more and more consultative in the way they approach and engage with prospects while marketers are refining their messaging to reach prospects who are better aligned with your value proposition, providing a whole new level of prospect. Plus, an increase in the use of data is providing invaluable insights on improvements you can make.
For example, if you have a lot of prospects being passed to the sale team and not closing, you may not be qualifying them enough. Similarly, data can show you what marketing efforts are working and where you might be losing money or business so you can stop targeting those people and wasting your time.
There is a new age upon us where sales and marketing work together like a well-oiled machine that is efficient and effective. This not only provides brands with more qualified leads, but also prevents consumers from wasting their time as well. So, if you haven’t made the effort to join your marketing and sales into a cohesive unit, now is the time. Otherwise, you may be losing out on more revenue than you realize.