How aligned are your marketing and sales teams?

By Alison Smith, Head of Marketing EMEA, Maximizer Software

The dynamic between marketing and sales has changed fundamentally in recent years. In today’s digital world, the customer is far more in control of their journey to purchase than ever before, choosing where, when and how to interact with their suppliers. This has not only led to marketing and sales reassessing the way each team operates, but also accentuated the importance of their working closely together to ensure a coherent and consistent experience across all channels, at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Yet it is still the exception rather than the norm for these two functions to be closely aligned.

Recent statistics on lead nurturing revealed that nearly eight out of ten marketing leads go without a response from sales[1]. Part of the reason for this may be that sales teams are so incentivised to meet and beat ambitious targets that they become blinkered to just closing deals and neglect the need to foster long-term relationships and convey strong, consistent brand values. Yet if the sales function operates autonomously, it runs the risk of squandering the opportunities created by marketing – as well as failing to deliver the all-important joined-up approach to prospect outreach throughout the sales process. Quite apart from the commercial penalty of poorly aligned teams, data governance is also likely to be a casualty, entailing significant risk in the GDPR era.

Marketing is equally responsible for fostering joint working with sales, and must guard against underestimating the value of the customer knowledge held by their sales colleagues. This insight from the frontline is crucial to creating more targeted and effective campaigns. Both teams can learn from each other, especially when it comes to digital skills; a study from 2015 showed that three quarters of salespeople who beat their quota by 10% or more said they had an excellent understanding about the use of social media for prospecting, nurturing relationships and closing deals.[2]

The good news is that the rift between marketing and sales can be healed with some simple steps. A quick-win can be made by changing the physical space of your office set-up. Make sure it is easy to facilitate meetings between the two departments. Hold brainstorming sessions on campaign ideas and content, and draw up Service Level Agreements when a new marketing campaign has been developed to formalise the cross-departmental collaboration opportunities.

The key enabler to getting sales and marketing working together in any SME is technology, and solutions such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can provide the ideal bridge. Take one of our customers, a social enterprise, as an example. They recently implemented CRM across several departments including marketing and business development, and have seen dramatic improvements in the way their internal teams can collaborate, share information and create consolidated and insightful customer profiles.

In fact, putting the right technology in place can act as a catalyst to challenging ingrained ways of working, changing mindsets at a cultural level and encouraging true collaborative decision-making as both teams strive towards their newly aligned goals.