Marketing and Sales Already Overlap. Use It to Build Alignment
By Anna Fisher | 8.21.17
Aligning marketing and sales is like healthy eating and exercise. You know they’re good for you, but you often lack the motivation to achieve your goals.
Sure, that extra donut may stall your weight loss plans—no big deal. But leaving marketing and sales misaligned or working in silos? That stalls revenue growth. And that is a very big deal.
Need proof that alignment is worth the effort? Marketing and sales operations that are aligned achieve 24% faster revenue growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three-year period, according to SiriusDecisions. What’s more, Marketo found aligned organizations are 67% better at closing deals and reduce friction by 108%.
So, stop saying that your operations are good enough as they are, and then panicking when revenue takes a hit or blaming the other team for stalled efforts. Instead, adopt a truly prescriptive alignment process to proactively close the gaps in your sales and marketing processes.
First, draw a Venn diagram of your everyday marketing and sales activities. Pay close attention to areas of overlap. You’re likely to include versions of target buyer identification, content, and lead generation and management. These are your key areas for building marketing and sales alignment.
Then, focus on them:
Understand your target buyers. Who are your ideal buyers? What do they really care about? What’s their buying process? These questions demand a consensus. A streamlined revenue chain requires cohesion in the marketing and sales process, which, without a unified understanding of the buyer, is broken at the get-go.
Develop buyer personas through updated information in your B2B contact database and through information channeled into marketing, sales, and product marketing on an ongoing basis. Keep the personas up-to-date. For instance, integrate learnings from win-loss interviews with your customers and prospects with information already in your database to shed light on current market trends and buyer preferences and expectations.
Align all forms of content. Personalized content works, and personalization drives results. Consider: A recent analysis of 380 CMOs by Forbes found that marketers who deliver personalized Web experiences are getting double-digit returns in marketing performance and response.
But to tailor content effectively, in a way that supports both teams’ messaging and intents, requires aligning your content strategies. Do this by building content around agreed-upon personas, then setting up processes to ensure that marketing gets input from sales to perfect outreach campaigns, and that sales uses the right messaging in collateral.
Understand lead generation and management tactics. The sales and marketing funnel is often an indirect reflection of your revenue cycle. To align the intricacies of all things lead gen and management, it’s important to step back and start at the beginning. Specifically:
Define your leads. What differentiates a lead from a marketing qualified lead (MQL), a sales qualified lead (SQL), or an opportunity?
Initiate a lead-scoring system. Because not all leads are created equal, get your teams on the same scorecard to better plan how to handle incoming leads.
Determine responsibilities. Decide who’s responsible for which lead gen and lead management activities. There’s a difference between inside sales, inbound teams, new business, and so on.
Identify your MVPs. Get to know the marketing and sales pros responsible for carrying out and analyzing lead initiatives. Implement processes that align their activities. And, enable them to easily share their findings so the marketing and sales teams can better optimize their lead gen activities.
Next—and this is vital—align your CRM and marketing automation platforms. If possible, ensure your marketing and sales teams are collaborating in one system or similar, integrated systems to understand and optimize ongoing strategies.
Ultimately, both teams are responsible for generating revenue, and both need to implement and nurture strategies that work.
Sure, alignment is just one piece of the revenue puzzle. But it’s one that can make or break the bulk of your collective efforts. Fortunately, alignment is both prescriptive and predictive. By getting your marketing and sales teams collaborating, you’re more likely to uncover and resolve any issues that could stall revenue growth—or avoid them completely.
Remember that in today’s world of self-informed buyers, sales needs marketing more than ever to carry the right message to the right customers, and marketing needs sales more than ever to get a complete understanding of the customer. This urgency alone should expedite buy-in and propel your work forward.
About the Author
Anna Fisher is Senior Director of Marketing and Head of Lead Generation at ZoomInfo. Anna is looking forward to sharing insights with the many marketing and sales executives attending ZoomInfo's 2017 Growth Acceleration Summit, in Boston on Sept. 13 and14, where more than 25 thought leaders will provide advice on how to close the marketing-sales gap and, as a result, succeed faster.
You can also find Anna on LinkedIn.