Oil and water, bleach and ammonia, Paul McCartney and Kanye West—no matter how hard you try, some things will never work together. But if you want your business to be successful, your sales and marketing teams absolutely, positively need to come together.
And not just in the way that two fighting siblings pretend to make up in front of their parents while secretly planning to dip each other’s toothbrushes in nail polish remover (sorry, Sis).
It’s not enough to simply coexist. To exceed your shared objectives of filling your sales pipeline with highly qualified leads, building stronger client relationships and growing your organization’s ROI at unprecedented rates, sales and marketing teams need to bury the hatchet. And not just bury it, but set it on fire and run away to a new place where we can align around common goals and cooperate like the capable professionals we all know ourselves to be.
To get started forging a bond and marching arm in arm into heaps of revenue, we must first acknowledge and rid our minds of these seven dangerous misconceptions.
I’m not sure where the notion originated that marketing and sales are roles professionals fall into when their dream careers didn’t take off, but it needs to die a fiery death. To be successful in either profession not only requires advanced training, experience and passion, but you must also have the capacity to understand a wide range of other roles and departments.
While what goes on behind the scenes in a salesperson or marketer’s day may remain a mystery to the client, it’s our job to understand nearly everything the client does. We must be able to empathize with their challenges, interpret their pain points and know exactly how our organization’s product or service will meet their needs. We are professional problem solvers of the highest echelon. Put simply, inbound salespeople and inbound marketers are rock stars.
Now that you’ve finished patting yourself on the back, let’s take a look at the misconceptions we have about each other.
The notion that salespeople are beholden to nothing more than their close rate isn’t just an unhelpful generalization—it’s downright silly. A salesperson is responsible for creating relationships with prospects and ensuring the client is fully satisfied. They know over-promising not only frustrates the rest of the organization, it can jeopardize their personal reputation.
And even if your business model has sales dropping out of the process after handing off the account to development or support, the success of the client relationship is still of great importance to their position. A positive customer experience means a continued relationship, an opportunity for an upsell or an increased likelihood of referrals—and a negative one could come back to haunt them in myriad ways.
Marketers: If you feel a product or service is being oversold, keep in mind your marketing efforts contribute to the prospect’s understanding of your offering. By working together with the sales team, you can ensure both of you are appropriately managing expectations.
Sure, there may have been a time when allocating a marketing budget required a lot of guesswork. Before marketing automation, the marketing department had little visibility into what channels, campaigns or messaging yielded the highest return. Determining what worked and what didn’t often meant wading through call reporting or relying on customer surveys—neither of which were especially accurate.
Today, however, marketers have access to powerful and sophisticated technology. They can access data that pinpoints the exact moment when a prospect became a lead, when a lead became a customer and their entire digital journey along the way. In other words, they have access to plenty of data that helps them make effective spending decisions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little feedback now and then.
Salespeople: You’re closest to the customer, which means you have valuable intel about what drives customers to buy. Sharing this wealth of knowledge with the marketing team can make all of your lives much easier.
A good salesperson knows how to build relationships and connect with prospects one-on-one. They can quickly diffuse concerns, overcome objections and make their customers feel comfortable with their decision to buy. But that doesn’t mean they can walk into a business and hit a homerun on the first day. To be successful, salespeople need to be confident. And to be confident, they need to be experts on the product or service they’re selling. Without sales enablement, even the most skilled and accomplished inbound salesperson would flounder.
Marketers: It’s up to you to provide the sales team with the resources they need to convert prospects. From in-depth product information to sales collateral, you can arm them with an arsenal that will increase their chances of closing great deals.
While marketers generally aren’t held accountable in the same way as salespeople for a prospect’s ultimate decision (for example, they don’t often have a commission-based pay structure), they still feel the pain of a lost customer. Keep in mind their success is not only determined by the number of leads they bring in but, like you, also the number of leads that convert. If they’re delivering a lot of prospects that don’t turn into customers, they may not be appropriately qualifying those leads.
Also, like you, they’re almost always in the position of proving their value to the leadership team.
Salespeople: If you feel leads are not adequately nurtured or prepared when they’re passed along, share this with the marketing team. Better leads and increased sales will earn you both a nod of approval from the C-suite.
In the inbound marketing world, the sales team knows how their pipeline is being filled—they know it’s not pure magic bringing ready and willing prospects into their midst. After all, the shift away from cold calling has offered them the opportunity to transform into educated consultants rather than pushy peddlers. Likewise, their new-and-improved position as a helpful adviser means marketing can be more personable and human. It’s a win-win for everyone, and it depends on salespeople understanding the buyer’s journey from inception.
Marketers: If you’re under the impression the sales team doesn’t fully understand your efforts, offer them some insight and allow them to shadow you for a few hours. To perform at their best, they need to know how prospects are educated before they become sales-qualified.
Marketers pride themselves on knowing everything they possibly can about their audience. They spend countless hours (and dollars) poring over research and data to analyze your buyer personas’ every move along the buyer’s journey. That means they’re responsible for understanding what it takes to convince someone your organization is the best possible option. While they may not share the same challenges you do in terms of communicating with customers directly, the process of converting prospects is certainly in their wheelhouse.
Salespeople: If you feel there is a disconnect between what marketers think they understand about the sales process and how you actually operate, take time to educate them. Remember, they’re data junkies eager for any and all information you have about the customer experience.
Without sales and marketing alignment, the entire organization suffers. Conversely, when they’re able to set aside their ill-advised judgments and misconceptions and work together, customers are happy, revenues flourish and everyone’s paycheck grows. Making the effort to understand each other and help the other improve in their respective positions is rewarded in the form of a healthy ROI and a happier office.
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