The Importance Of Creating An Integrated Sales And Marketing Strategy
The sales and marketing departments of any organization are responsible for different parts of the customer journey. Generally speaking, marketing focuses on attracting potential customers, while sales focus on closing the sale. This means marketing and sales are closely linked since your marketing efforts are futile if you don’t generate sales, while the success of your sales depends on your ability to attract leads.
If your marketing and sales departments are not aligned, it can result in many challenges, most notable of which is the lack of communication, leading to separation of goals and business inefficiencies.
Improved Communication Between Sales & Marketing Generates Better Results For Both
When marketing and sales teams are isolated from one another, they do not communicate. This means that they cannot help each other. In fact, because they don’t know one another, departments can even become competitive and resentful, laying blame on one another when problems arise. By integrating marketing and sales, you’ll get everybody on the same page and aligned working towards shared goals. Your teams will be more likely to communicate and to work together, providing each other with appropriate feedback when necessary and preventing miscommunication from causing issues in both your marketing and sales strategies.
Consider these examples of how improving communication between your sales and marketing teams can help improve results across both departments:
More Targeted Marketing Efforts
Your marketing department spends its time attracting leads that they then hand off to your sales department. However, not all of those leads may be of high quality. Your sales team can relay to your marketing team what types of leads they tend to close and what types of leads they don’t. Such feedback can help your marketing team to focus more on finding more qualified leads. Your sales team can also provide feedback and what type of content they need to nurture their leads through the sales funnel so that marketing can redirect their focus, thereby making more efficient use of their time and effort.
Regular feedback from the sales department will enable your marketing team to target their marketing efforts much more effectively, resulting in a higher ROI (return on investment), not to mention a more cost-effective marketing strategy.
Improve Sales Enablement
When your sales team relays its needs to the marketing team, the marketing team will begin attracting higher quality leads. Working together, your marketing and sales teams can even come up with a lead qualification strategy to qualify leads as sales-ready. This enables your sales team to engage only those leads that are ready to be engaged instead of wasting time on leads that still need to be nurtured by marketing.
Additionally, your marketing team will be able to provide your sales team with better information about products and services as well as about what prospects are looking for and asking about. This information will give your sales team a better understanding of the needs of your prospects, which will enable your sales team to generate sales more effectively.
Improve Customer Experience
Marketing and sales personnel interact with customers at different points of the buyer’s journey. When marketing and sales are working together, they will be able to share new information about their customer interactions with each other. This allows for more consistent and smooth customer experience. When marketing and sales aren’t aligned, customers can become frustrated engaging with marketing and sales personnel who don’t understand their needs or who have no record of past interactions due to a lack of internal communication.
Improve Company Culture
Poor communication between marketing and sales can hurt your company culture. It can result in misplaced blame and a lack of accountability. For example, if sales are down, the sales team might blame the marketing team for sending them poor quality leads, while the marketing team might blame the sales team for not being able to generate sales.
By integrating your marketing and sales teams, you can significantly reduce misunderstandings between departments and encourage your teams to work together to achieve common goals. It will improve morale and greatly improve your company culture.
Sales And Marketing Alignment Begins With a Service Level Agreement
Understanding that it benefits everyone to integrate your marketing and sales teams is one thing, actually figuring out how to improve communication between the two and to encourage them to work together is another. An SLA (service level agreement) between marketing and sales will help to do just that.
An SLA is an agreement on how your sales and marketing teams will work together. Not only does it allow both teams to get on the same page, but it will allow you to hold both teams accountable for working together. Here are the major components of an effective sales and marketing SLA:
A Summary Of The SLA
The summary includes the responsibilities of each department to ensure that everyone understands and agrees to them. This helps reduce miscommunication and enforces accountability.
The Goals And Objectives
The goals and objectives of each department should be listed. For example, a marketing goal might be to generate a certain number of qualified leads or to improve conversion rates to a specific number by a designated time period. The sales goal might be to reach a certain number of sales, close a specific percentage of leads, or generate a certain amount of revenue by the end of a designated time period.
Requirements For Meeting Goals
This section of the SLA should go over what marketing needs from sales to achieve the goals and objectives of your marketing department and vice versa. Doing this helps align your marketing and sales strategies and encourages collaboration.
List Of Who Is In Charge Of What
Accountability is vital to preventing miscommunication and misunderstandings, so the SLA should go over who is responsible for making sure that the goals and objectives of each department are achieved. It should also list who the point of contact for each department is to ensure individual communication accountability.
The SLA also needs to go over what happens if the goals and objectives in the SLA are not met. For example, it should detail what will happen if the sales team doesn’t meet its sales quota. Some organizations will implement a strike system to hold employees in both sales and marketing accountable for identifying and resolving issues regarding poor performance.
How To Integrate Your Sales And Marketing Strategy
A sales and marketing SLA will help get both teams on the same page and help to improve communication between both departments, it won’t however magically align your sales and marketing strategies and goals. There are steps you can take that will integrate your sales and marketing departments and make sure that your strategies are aligned:
Establish Standardized Funnel Definitions
The terminology being used by sales and marketing departments should be standardized. Otherwise, confusion and misunderstandings can arise as a result of different terminology being used, or definitions being undefined and left up to interpretation.
Establish Shared Buyer Personas
Your sales and marketing teams should use the same buyer personas. While marketing tends to be responsible for developing buyer personas, they shouldn’t do so without input from sales. After all, the sales department will collect more details about your customers during the process of nurturing them to the point of sale.
Establish Parameters For Lead Qualification
Whether a lead scoring process is used or another type of lead qualification formula such as BANT or GPCT, marketing and sales should work together to identify the values and qualification standards certain actions and information have on the leads.
Integrate All Of Your Sales And Marketing Software
To ensure that there are no data silos (resulting in incomplete or inaccurate customer profiles), make sure all of your sales and marketing software programs are properly integrated with one another.
Implement A Closed-Loop Reporting System
A closed-loop reporting system will make sure that both marketing and sales are provided with information and feedback, keep all databases up-to-date, and ensure that both teams can make and recommend improvements to the respective strategies.
Allow Sales Team To Influence Content Creation
If your marketing team is creating content for the decision stage of the buyer’s journey that your sales team doesn’t find helpful, then your marketing team is wasting their time. Your sales team should inform your marketing team about the type of content that they find useful in nurturing your prospects to help close sales.
Encourage Regular Communication
To encourage your marketing and sales personnel to work together and to avoid misunderstandings from developing, begin by facilitating the regular communication between departments. You can do this by setting monthly meetings where marketing and sales personnel can discuss their wins and losses, ideas and frustrations, needs and goals. Familiarity with one another can also help foster better communication.
Monitor And Report On Performance
Not only will you want to track certain marketing and sales-specific metrics to monitor each department’s performance, try implementing performance metrics shared by both teams. Monitoring the performance of both your marketing and sales teams together provides a bigger picture view of how successful integration has been. It can also help you identify issues that need to be addressed in order to further improve alignment.
Sales And Marketing Integration Will Significantly Improve Your Results
Your organization should be working together to make sure that your company achieves success and continues to grow. Unfortunately, if your marketing and sales teams are isolated from one another, this can become difficult to do. Integrating your marketing and sales teams and aligning your marketing and sales strategies can help get everyone on the same page to achieve unified goals. As a result of successful integration, your marketing and sales efforts will experience significant improvement.