It is often thought that sales and marketing enjoy hand-in-hand professional relationships. While this is true in theory, it is often far from reality. In fact, studies have shown that businesses can lose as much as ten per cent of their total revenue as a result of miscommunications between sales and marketing platforms. As technology continues to advance, this unfortunate observation may become even more profound. This is why it is crucial to appreciate the ways by which communications between these departments can be streamlined. What do the professionals have to say?
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The Importance of Properly Aligned Approaches to Sales and Marketing
Before moving on to discuss a handful of potent strategies, it is wise to understand exactly why sales and marketing techniques may become out of sync. One of the most common reasons involves disparate goals. In other words, a lack of transparent communications causes each team to focus upon different milestones; leading to a divergence in policies.
On the contrary, these very same teams can produce stellar results if they are capable of combining their resources. It can be argued that the three benefits of transparent communications are:
- Heightened levels of in-house productivity.
- More efficient use of existing resources.
- Both the buyer journey and the customer experience will be enhanced.
Now that we have clearly outlined why sales and marketing teams need to be on the same proverbial page, it is prudent to appreciate exactly how this can be accomplished.
Develop a Strong Leadership Platform
Although sales and marketing professionals may appear to be concerned with their own duties, the fact of the matter is that both can be tied together if a strong leadership presence is developed. An analogy will help to cement this point.
Imagine for a moment a ship at sea that is travelling to a far-off destination. While properly maintaining its engine is obviously important, this vessel would become lost without the proper navigational tools and adequate weather reports. These observations are just as valid within the modern business community.
Sales and management need to be clearly guided by management. This is an excellent way to set the right example and perhaps, more importantly, to address any questions as they arise. These teams must be viewed as two pieces of a much larger puzzle.
The Role of Modern Technology
As this article rightfully highlights, 46 percent of sales executives and 50 percent of marketing specialists feel that they are now extremely reliant upon technology. It, therefore, stands to reason that only the latest tools and software platforms should be employed. There are several which can be leveraged when adopting a tech-savvy approach including (but by no means limited to):
- More accurate pipeline analyses.
- Streamlined client communications.
- Data can be shared between departments with the click of a button.
- Management and stakeholders will be provided with a much clearer picture of how both teams are performing.
Sales enablement platforms, automated data entry systems and real-time communications platforms will all have a massive impact upon in-house performance. Hootsuite, Zoom, Salesforce, and Zoho are a handful of well-known systems to consider.
Make it a Point to Mutually Define KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) will often differ between sales and marketing staff. For instance, sales teams tend to be more concerned with conversions and client relations while marketing analysts tend to focus upon metrics such as generating quality leads and analysing the performance of a recent PR campaign. However, both sides of the coin are nonetheless concerned about the same outcome: increasing the overall return on investment (ROI).
Once again, we can begin to see why sharing information is important. When variables are collated, analyzed and shared between departments they will be more likely to work in synergy with one another. Another lesser-known benefit here is that examining these very same KPIs can provide a greater amount of insight regarding whether or not a different approach needs to be taken by either department.
Develop a Proactive Approach
The first step in diagnosing a problem is to become aware that one exists. However, this is not always possible by analyzing data and performance figures alone. It is much better to develop a much more organic approach. After all, sales and marketing professionals are on the “front lines” of any B2B or B2C organization. The chances are high that they have something to say.
Make it a point to schedule bi-weekly or monthly staff meetings. These are great ways to recap recent events, to understand how a strategy is unfolding and if needed, to proactively make any changes as they are required. Managers who are capable of listening to their staff members will automatically remain one step of the proverbial curve.
On a final note, adopting a more open mindset will also demonstrate to sales and marketing subordinates that their opinions matter. This helps to boost morale and it will result in higher levels of productivity.
Becoming Accustomed to Cross-Functional Teams
This is a rather new concept and yet, it is already making waves throughout the business community. We need to realize that the traditional lines between sales and marketing are becoming blurred (largely due to advancements in technology). One is rarely capable of operating at its most efficient levels if the other is not directly involved.
To put this observation into perspective, a recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that the average closed sale involves nearly seven individual stakeholders. Thus, both sales and marketing professionals will likely have a direct impact on the final outcome.
Both teams should therefore be encouraged to share pertinent information with one another. Managers must likewise attempt to eliminate any barriers to this type of communication. Once again, bespoke software platforms will often be able to bridge the gap between these two departments so that they can both focus on the task at hand.
Identify and Curtail Long Sales Cycles
Take a moment to think about how long it takes the average individual to convert from a prospect to a client. This is a key portion of the sales pipeline and lengthy periods of time collate to fewer chances of a deal being closed. Therefore, interdepartmental communications should also focus on how this lifecycle can be reduced. Here are some tactics from a sales standpoint:
- Develop clear channels of customer communications.
- Identify pricing points from the very beginning.
- Place a greater amount of focus upon products and services which have generated the most amount of interest in the past.
- Establish a personal rapport with each prospect.
In terms of marketing, a handful of useful strategies may include:
- Clearly define the buyer persona.
- Employ local SEO techniques.
- Cater to a discrete target demographic.
- Leverage customer feedback to appreciate the performance of an ongoing campaign.
While each department will obviously utilize different techniques, they can all help to shorten sales cycles. Managers should encourage these approaches and likewise, ensure that any gleaned insight is shared between both teams.
The Growing Prevalence of Cloud-Based Software
In terms of enhancing communication between sales and marketing departments, cloud-based platforms should always represent part of the overall solution. These systems provide an easy means to securely store data and it can be accessed by authorized personnel within seconds.
Perhaps a sales team needs to peruse the latest automated marketing brochure before speaking with a client. On the other hand, marketing analysts will often rely upon sales figures in order to determine if their current campaigns may need to be refined. In both of these cases, cloud-based software packages will provide the right insight at the appropriate times. Some of the most cutting-edge solutions for modern businesses include:
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Dropbox Business
As these packages are modular in nature, they also represent extremely cost-effective solutions for businesses that happen to be governed by tight budgets.
The Physical Component to Enhanced Communications
A final point to mention involves the physical layout of an office. Most traditional environments separated sales teams from marketing departments (it was believed that the operations of each department would cause disruptions). This inevitably leads to a breakdown in communications. One modern trend involves the notion of integrated workspaces. Many studies have shown that people tend to thrive within dynamic work environments and their performance will likewise be enhanced. In the same respect, sales and marketing teams can easily speak with one another and cohesively tackle any problems as they may arise.
The Best Practices to Embrace: Two Become One
Streamlining communications between sales and marketing is not necessarily an easy task and yet, the results can be profound. Let us now recap the content mentioned above by highlighting the most important steps to adopt:
- Create a strong sense of top-down leadership.
- Embrace modern technological solutions.
- Clearly define mutually relevant KPIs and analyze these regularly.
- Hold regular staff meetings to develop an open and transparent company culture.
- Encourage cross-functional team communications.
- Shorten sales cycles to ensure higher conversion rates.
- Use cloud-based data sharing systems.
- Integrate desk locations to develop a more cohesive work environment.
Ultimately, sales and marketing staff should strive to work like a well-oiled machine. While the goals of each team and the associated techniques may be slightly different, the ultimate intention is to generate profits and to guarantee a consistently high ROI.
As the business world continues to evolve, it becomes clear that sales and marketing should never be viewed as two separate entities. Each is inextricably linked to the other.