Bridging the Gap: Sales & Marketing
“So close, yet so far”. This is what I often think when a salesperson reaches out to me. Since launching LUNIR, I have had many companies contacting me to promote their products and services. It amazes me how often there is such a huge disconnect between the message I am getting from the salesperson on the phone and the company’s marketing efforts and communications. Sometimes the gap is so big that it is actually easy to forget that it is the same company!
I have had the opportunity of working in both sales and marketing, and in my experience the sales and marketing teams are unfortunately often detached and out of sync. Sales and marketing overlap in many ways, yet companies often seem to separate these departments to the extent that there is no alignment between them. The resultant disconnect presents confusing messaging to potential customers and can cost businesses valuable opportunities. However, some companies do get this right and in this article I will look at a few important aspects to consider when bridging the gap between these two really crucial areas of a business.
It is essential for the respective departments to communicate with each other to ensure aligned messaging towards customers. Marketing teams often run campaigns and roll out content plans without informing their sales teams, and sales teams often adopt sales strategies that undermine the messaging promoted by the marketing teams. In fact, according to a study from LinkedIn, only 46% of companies believe their sales and marketing activities are highly aligned.
This communication gap often leads to a situation where, for example, a potential customer is attracted by a marketing post and signs up for more information, only to be contacted by a salesperson who has no idea what got the potential customer to be interested in the first place. If that salesperson had known that this post was being published and understood the rationale, they would have been able to leverage off this insight, adapt their sales strategy accordingly and tap into the most effective way to approach the prospect. As such, marketing activity should be notified to the sales team in advance, and carefully tracked to ensure that the sales team knows what activity drove the leads. Tracking can be done in many ways (get in touch here to find out more about this).
Tying into the previous point, it is important that there are leaders in each team who will facilitate the collaboration between marketing and sales. Communication is important, but if collaboration is not executed effectively then impactful communication will be difficult to achieve. According to Upland Sales, only 35% of salespeople think marketing knows what they need, and this most often due to a lack of collaboration between the teams. The disconnect and divergent team goals can create a rift between the departments that can deeply affect the company’s overall performance, as well as affect company culture. Therefore it is important that collaboration be introduced as a key element of the respective job roles. Both departments have valuable skills which, when combined, can be immensely effective in generating the best approach to achieving the company’s overall business goals. When your sales team can think like marketers, and your marketing team can think like salespersons, then you have you will have a much stronger team overall.
Through their respective activities, both teams collect powerful data and learnings that would be useful for the other. Marketing professionals rely on a range of data to monitor and direct their activities, however sales teams have valuable “on the ground” feedback from potential customers which they can easily record and share. This feedback could include thoughts on the marketing activity, the reasons that drove the prospect’s interest, and how they perceive the products or services. On the other hand, marketing teams have powerful information such as the types of content consumers are interested in, sentiment about products, and website user behaviour. This data can be used to empower the knowledge of the sales team, which could result in a more confident and pinpointed approach when speaking with prospects. Knowledge sharing sessions can be a very valuable tool, and they will also further improve collaboration between the two departments.
Aligned KPIs and Goals
While the first two points are important, they will fall flat if the KPIs between the two departments are not aligned. Sales teams are focused on revenue, ARR and sales activity, whereas marketing teams are often looking at metrics such as number of leads or number of social engagements. It is important that there is a combined KPI funnel that integrates the performance of both teams. If this is not done correctly, you could have a situation where the marketing team exceeds their KPIs, but the sales team underperforms against theirs, raising the question as to whether the marketing activity was effective or whether the sales team did not do their job well. If the KPIs are well integrated, you would be able to establish what the true pain points really are, and why positive marketing activity is, or is not, resulting in the sales aimed for.
Bridging the gap between marketing and sales is not always easy, especially if you are dealing with big teams. However, it is achievable through effective planning, training, and good leadership, and can have a profound and lasting impact on the performance of your business.