Imagine a sales team and their marketing counterparts teaming up to engage with prospects, clients, the industry and more – it makes total and utter business sense, right? Two of your strongest client-facing forces working in unison, feeding into one another to build truly ’Customer First’ engagement. A concept that surely every business should strive to make happen. Yet for technology, software and financial service businesses – and in fact across the B2B space – friction between sales and marketing is prevalent. Still in 2018 alignment remains the holy grail which few achieve.
Whatever the extent of misalignment, this ultimately limits performance. It needn’t be this way though – fusing these forces is not rocket science. Over the years Marke2ing has worked with many SMEs and larger enterprises, transforming their fractured culture into one of collaboration and shared vision. This work has resulted in recognition from the UK Enterprise Awards 2018 as ‘SME Marketing Company of the Year 2018’.
The UK Enterprise Awards recognise the key players and smaller enterprises making their mark within the UK business scene. The awards acknowledge those who thrive amongst fierce competition on a national scale, highlighting stand-out performance and practices. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have our approach to sales and marketing alignment commended. It’s particularly close to our hearts, as we strive to bring this to each and every client. Here we share a few insights into the foundations that build unified sales and marketing.
One vision, shared objectives, joint reward
Tension typically stems from the two teams working towards different goals and a lack of cohesive vision. Working at odds, not understanding what the other team is doing and why, and poor communication are all common symptoms of this. When sales and marketing are focused on one clear vision, and with shared goals and rewards, that’s when the magic happens. Less friction, greater efficiencies, deeper learnings, improved performance and shared success.
Dig deep into company roots and culture
Before analysing the ins and outs of the sales and marketing teams themselves, first take a hard look at the leadership and organisational structure. Reporting structures dictate so much – the visibility of teams, relationships between departments, culture and how systems and processes flow.
A seat at the table
Here’s an example of the impact hierarchy and reporting structure can impact B2B sales and marketing alignment. How often do you hear of a CMO or Marketing Director responsible for Sales? Not in our time. Flip that, and marketing departments reporting into a Sales Director is far more common. The mere fact Marketing has no comparable senior counterpart to sit equally alongside Sales, Product Finance and IT is highly likely to hinder both their accountability and their visibility. To the rest of the business it says, “Marketing can be shoehorned into another department, it doesn’t warrant the same space at the table.” This trickles down through a business.
Our advice here is simple. For marketing to drive business performance, and for marketing to have the best chance of success, CEOs and MDs must provide a space at the table – where marketing can have a voice and be seen as a strategic partner.
With all the best intentions to make marketing and sales more joined-up, efforts will fall to the wayside unless backed up by the right processes. As well as processes and systems that help manage and track sales and marketing efforts, the way in which your teams can collaborate will underpin success.
Teams that don’t talk, teams that physically aren’t near one another, are at risk of working in siloes. Bedding down processes that encourage regular face-to-face time and frequent two-way communication is essential. Marketing cannot do their job without having a deep understanding of sales, and the ins of out of how they engage with prospects and clients.
Nor can marketing truly understand channel performance without sitting down with Sales to find out about the quality of the leads they’re delivering. We often sense immense discomfort when asking our client’s marketers to ask for open feedback on their leads: which were good, which were average, and which really didn’t hit the mark. Leaving egos aside, marketers will really grow by gaining insight into what’s working and what’s not. Their sales counterparts will respect them too for being open to such frank discussions.
The power of B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment
Here we’ve merely touched on some of the positive impacts you can expect when marketing and sales are allies. A harmonious culture where communication channels are open and planning, spend and activity are aligned will reap endless rewards.