According to a survey of nearly 1,000 sales and marketing professionals by Demand Gen Report, nearly half of respondents said a lack of communication was the biggest challenge in aligning sales and marketing teams. Flawed processes and different KPIs were also cited as large contributors to the disconnect between the two functions. But communication and cooperation between sales and marketing is critical to both acquiring and retaining customers.
Talking to the Customer
Both sales and marketing teams need to understand why customers are buying. The sales team needs to engage with the customer and ask what problem do they need to solve and what keeps them up at night. What’s happening in their industry and what do they need to stand out among their competition? A common mistake both sales and marketing make is talking too much about the value of their product or service. What motivates people to buy is pain – any customer needs to see how your product or service meets their needs. The more you speak their language, the more your message will resonate and convert that customer.
Once sales determines what customers respond to, they can share that knowledge with marketing, which can then use that to develop campaign messaging. It’s really incumbent on sales to understand the criteria on which prospects will base their decisions so that marketing can provide the most compelling collateral. For example, marketing can put together a case study showcasing how the company’s product or service specifically solved a customer’s problem or pain.
Proposals are another area where sales should take advantage of marketing’s expertise in messaging and presentations. A good proposal is what helps get sales over the line.
Often, there is tension between marketing and sales when it comes to lead generation. Marketing’s focus is to fill the top of the funnel but the focus of sales is on lead quality. This is where alignment is necessary. The key to targeting qualified leads is to create an ideal client profile – demographics, interests, goals, pain points. This is challenging and everyone – marketing, sales, operations, client support, project management – needs to be involved. This profile is essential to building effective business development strategies and keeping marketing and sales aligned.
While not every lead will result in a conversion, it’s important for sales to keep in mind that not every lead needs to be perfect. Lead scoring can be helpful but sales shouldn’t only take the high-scoring leads. They need to be able to convert people who are not immediately convinced. At the same time, marketing needs to work hard to make sure the leads they generate are as good as possible.
Sales needs to think about what leads, aka potential buyers, want to see and hear about, once they enter the pipeline, to drive their decision-making process, and then share that information with marketing, which can create effective collateral for a sales toolkit.
Once prospects become customers, marketing can play a valuable role in customer retention. Through surveys and social media, they can collect customer feedback and share with sales and other relevant teams to improve customer support. They can also target existing customers to encourage adoption of additional products or services. Make sure your customers are aware of everything you do. Ideally, you want your company to be a walled garden where your customers have no reason to use another company for products or services you offer.
Time and again, we see that the more sales and marketing connect, the more they realize they have the same goal. Regular meetings and communication are essential. Competition for customers is fierce, and the only way for both sales and marketing to succeed is to communicate, share insights and remember that they are on the same team.
Doug Lotierzo is a consultant at Neuberger & Company, which offers sales and leadership training to businesses of all sizes. Neuberger & Company is a proud AMA Baltimore sponsor.