Too often, marketing and sales exist in their own worlds, not actively thinking about what the other team’s doing except as it directly relates to their own work. Even worse, in some organizations they view each other as rivals, competing for the same budget spend.
That’s not doing anyone any good. Marketing and sales are two parts of the same process, working toward the same primary goal: helping the business earn more customers.
Unsurprisingly, the companies where the two departments manage to work together are better at achieving that goal. Research has shown that alignment between marketing and sales leads to a 208 percent increase in revenue.
If your sales and marketing departments aren’t actively collaborating now, make working toward greater alignment a priority. A lot of the work of getting there will be about changing mindsets—convincing both departments how beneficial working together as allies will be.
For the rest, technology can help.
Technology is never a solution on its own, but it often works as a tool that makes the solution easier to achieve. Marketers and sales teams today have a number of tech tools that create an easier path to better collaboration, if organizations use them effectively.
Possibly the most important piece of technology you have for ensuring sales and marketing stay on the same page is your customer relationship management platform (CRM). In fact, it plays such a big role in better sales enablement that we wrote a whole guide on the subject.
While you can read the whole thing to get deeper into the subject, the main reason the CRM is important to improving collaboration is because it works as a shared knowledge base for sales and marketing.
Everything marketing learns about a lead before they get handed off to sales should be recorded in there. By the time sales makes a move to contact a lead, they should have a clear idea of where they are in the buyer’s journey, how they’ve interacted with your brand so far, and the position each contact associated with the account is in (if there are multiple contacts). That information equips sales with the knowledge they need to provide a relevant approach to each lead, tailored to their specific needs and situation.
Coming full circle, marketing then benefits from knowing which of the qualified leads become sales, and which ones fizzled out and why. That knowledge strengthens your targeting efforts and enables you to do a better job qualifying future leads.
The CRM gives everyone in both departments the most important information available on each lead and customer at the moment they need it. But for the two departments to consistently see each other as collaborators, you want to set up a means for ongoing communication.
Fortunately, you can find many different technology products that enable ongoing communication for business teams. From shared chat functions, like Skype and Google Chat (which don’t cost anything) to project management platforms like Basecamp and Trello, you should have little difficulty finding a tech solution that makes ongoing collaboration possible between the two departments.
The trickier part is getting everyone in the habit of using it.
So, you have the technology. You’ve identified it as just the thing to help your teams work together better. That’s a start.
Now how do you actually get people to use it for that purpose?
You can’t drop a product in your employees’ laps and assume they’ll figure it out on their own. Some of the tech we mentioned, like Skype, might already be familiar to some of your staff, but don’t assume that’s true of everyone. Devote some time to training everyone on both teams in how to use the technology so they understand all the available features you want them to take advantage of.
Provide initial CRM training, but also make sure they have access to ongoing support to help them through any questions or difficulties they face using it. You won’t accomplish your goal of ongoing collaboration unless people continue using the tech for the months and years to come.
The technology itself isn’t enough to keep people on the same page. You should have some clear standards for how to use it.
For example, you should have clear instructions for when and how to update the classifications for a lead in the CRM—when does a lead go from being a marketing qualified lead (MQL) to a sales qualified lead (SQL)? What milestones in the process are sales representatives expected to record in the CRM for everyone to see?
Without clear guidelines for how the technology should be used, you risk everyone taking different approaches to it and failing to understand each other after all. Define the process you want everyone to follow early on and make sure it’s clearly communicated to each person in both departments.
People often resist doing things differently. Be prepared to make a case to your team about why better communication and collaboration between your departments matters and why the work of doing it right is worth it. The process will take some time and require effort from both teams, but the results will pay off.