Align Sales and Marketing for the Best Sales Support ProcessPosted on January 10th, 2019 by Jay Thomas
10% of your revenue. That’s how much sales and marketing misalignment costs B2B companies each year. This issue has become impossible to ignore.
Failure to recognize the two departments as symbiotic makes for an inefficient sales support process. Separate sales and marketing strategies hurt brand reputation and close rates, and significantly decrease ROI.
The severity of misalignment is clear. So, where’s the best place to start fixing this complicated issue?
Identify the symptoms of misalignment.
The first step to syncing your sales and marketing departments is by checking in with the current status of things. Here are some common signs of misalignment:
Lack of communication: When sales and marketing don’t talk to each other, small miscommunications quickly morph into major issues. Lack of communication turns into tension and low employee morale.
Slow distribution: If sales can’t follow up with prospects quickly, close rates plummet. With 35-50% of all sales going to the fastest-responding sales rep, your business can’t afford to be slow. The more time it takes for marketing materials to get into sales’ hands, the more opportunities will be missed.
Ineffective materials: Marketing materials that miss the mark for what the client needs are a waste of resources. By using sales pitches with custom data and insights, you please 77% of buyers. However, reps often have to rely on their top-performing pitch instead of taking a more in-depth approach. Custom materials take longer to receive and are more difficult to create, which complicates the process. Check out our features page to learn how you can quickly customize the best-performing content.
Diagnose the issues in your organization.
Now that you know the symptoms, it’s time to see specifically where these problems arise in your own organization. Some of these issues may be evident, and others may take some work to bring to light. Leadership can take several steps to diagnose the issues:
Identify your sales process: Companies with a formal sales process see 18% more revenue growth than those that don’t. To identify your current sales process, start researching your sales funnel, marketing, and CRM. Then assign a status change to each process.
Compare averages: Analyze your sales metrics to determine the average length of time for each status change. The purpose of this is to find your benchmark and compare this with your ideal times.
Investigate problems: Do you notice any status changes consistently taking longer than you’d like? Are your reps getting more “maybes” than solid “yes” or “no” answers for a particular type of sale? Finally, which groups of sales reps see the largest problems with status changes?
Consider if these reps have full access to sales support, or if they’re lacking the resources to improve. Investigating these problems helps determine gaps in sales support, so you can take out the guesswork and start tackling issues at the source.
Talk to your teams: Once you’ve pinpointed the disconnects in your sales process, start a conversation with the sales and marketing departments. You should conduct a survey and in-person interviews to find out why those issues are happening. Set up meetings to talk with your marketing team, sales managers, reps, and channel partners.
Here are some questions you can ask during your meeting:
- How do you prepare for a sales call?
- How long does it take to prepare yourself?
- Do you feel like you have the right information?
- Are your sales materials up to date and properly customized?
- How would you rate communication between departments?
Simple “yes” or “no” answers won’t be much help here. Request that employees share opinions on how to improve. The important thing here is to look for patterns. If multiple team members suggest having more frequent meetings, for example, you should listen.
The causes of poor sales and marketing alignment are often hiding in plain sight. Fostering open conversations with both departments is the first step toward improvement.
For extra help with employee interviews, try these quick tips to host the most effective in-person discussions.
How to align sales and marketing.
You’ve just done the heavy lifting to find the issues and root causes of misalignment. Now it’s time to take action. These three key steps will help your organization approach sales and marketing more effectively:
Bring in a strong leader: Overhauling your sales and marketing approach will be next to impossible without an ambitious leader at the forefront. Bringing in someone as a champion to the cause will help speed up adoption and keep employee morale high during this big change. This person can also lead training programs and offer incentives to keep the new solution on track.
Identify the right marketing materials: A Content Marketing Institute study shows that 60-70% of B2B sales content is never used. Think of all the wasted time and money that went into creating those materials. To increase efficiency, you need to create transparency and find out what your reps in the field need. Try these steps to help:
- Use your CRM or portal to audit your marketing materials. See what’s available and used most frequently.
- Identify top-performing sales materials by talking with sales managers and top reps to learn what receives the best response. Gathering feedback from marketing can also help you understand specifically what features of these materials are helping reps close sales.
- Trim the fat by eliminating materials that are ineffective, and instead list the top-performing materials to keep sales in the know.
- Regularly survey sales to see how satisfied they are with the marketing department’s work. Additionally, use real-time business intelligence from the field to find out what sales is using and how they’re using it.
Define your departments’ true customers: Marketing’s main customer is actually the sales department. Sales needs to see the value in the content, test it, and provide feedback on its effectiveness. On the flip side, sales should request what they actually need from marketing, and collaborate on topics for future sales materials. That’s where you see true alignment take place.
Track your progress.
All this work is for nothing if you don’t document and track improvements. Try tracking these important metrics:
- Time to close
- Total number of touchpoints
- Selling time
- Quota attainment
By tracking these metrics alongside your efforts, you can connect your hard work to significant improvements in your sales process. When you prioritize sales and marketing alignment, your business will experience better departmental communication, eliminate ineffective marketing materials, and ultimately reap the ROI rewards with pride.
Ready to learn how Triptych creates alignment and transparency? Start a conversation with our team.