It is all too common to find sales and marketing—the two most influential departments in a corporation—at odds with each other. In the business that I’m in, we see the clash, in all its splendor, play out on the trade show floor.
Marketing drives with a roadmap labeled “strategy” and “branding” while sales is running on relationships and referrals. I’m oversimplifying, of course, but these two dynamic forces can have powerful momentum. They are exciting to watch, they require real talent and dedication, and they both can deliver. But delivering together in harmony is a challenge. Why?
We all know the arguments—sales thinks marketing is detached from the realities of the marketplace. Marketing accuses sales of ignoring the true meaning of competitive branding.
Well, now's time for sales and marketing to put down the gloves.
Turning Rivals into a Dynamic Duo
Aligning marketing and sales can significantly improve an organization’s revenue by streamlining the customer’s path to purchase. Companies with a strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20-percent annual growth in revenue (Hubspot.com, 2014).
When marketing and sales teams are aligned to the same goals, the number of quality leads increases and ultimately revenue goes up. Sounds easy enough, but how can these two functions become a high-performing, dynamic duo?
1. Stop thinking marketing and sales are different.
Sales and marketing are both about persuasion. The salesperson’s job is to persuade one buyer at a time while the marketer’s job is to persuade markets full of buyers. It used to be a great division of labor.
Nowadays, marketing and sales teams need to speak the same language. One way to do this is to create a shared terminology. What's a hot lead? A warm lead? How long is the sales cycle? You get what I mean.
Teams must also agree on handoff points by identifying the stages of a lead and the point at which a lead should be passed to sales. That agreement should include the creation of a closed loop process that allows sales to push leads back to marketing for ongoing nurturing programs (Reachforce.com B2B Lead Generation, 2014).
2. Become masters at creating useful content.
Content marketing offers an opportunity for sales and marketing to work more closely than ever before. Sales is still on the front line speaking to customers every day, so they have firsthand knowledge about what customers need and want. They know what questions prospects are asking and what their biggest challenges are. That kind of information is invaluable in creating relevant content marketing.
Marketing can make a valuable contribution by generating the kind of content sales needs to share with their networks, attract interested prospects and start new conversations(Business2community.com, "Five ways to Support Sales," 2014).
3. Use the Right Tools
Your sales team should take advantage of lead-generating tools. Here are some great examples.
For B2B companies, LinkedIn should be an invaluable source of lead generation. And LinkedIn has made it easier than ever to be proactive about getting introduced to new opportunities (Hubspot.com, "The Sales Game Has Changed," 2014).
Reachable.com instantly renders a visual map of their network, showing people they know that are between them and the person they want to meet and the best route to take to get introduced.
Sales people should blog, submit articles and accept speaking engagements. Creating educational content differentiates your company and properly key-worded articles will eventually turn up in a potential buyer’s Google search.
Marketing can also play its part in the new paradigm.
Move away from purely promotional messaging and focus on delivering new valuable content, connective advertising and messaging (MarketingProfs.com, "Four Digital Marketing Trends to Watch," 2014). Interactive video experiences convey valuable content much more effectively than a static message.
Lead generation and nurturing tools, like those offered by Hubspot, heat up warm leads and cull out the dead ones. CRM tools like Salesforce.com and Landslide make it easier to memorialize, track and stay on top of opportunities and coordinate with the sales pipeline (B2BMarketingZone, Salesforce.com, 2014).
Stay dedicated to creating new blog content, lead-gen offers and optimized landing pages. Follow up via email using targeted lead nurturing content.
Bringing It All Together
The bottom line for both sales and marketing is improved profits, cash flow and liquidity. The engine that provides this fuel is marketing and sales delivering a robust return. By working together, sales and marketing can develop as the ultimate revenue-generating team.
To read more about this topic and what the two functions must learn from the other in order to succeed, download our new report, "Sales vs Marketing: Who’s Got the Lead?"
Rob Murphy is the CMO of MC2, a global exhibit and event marketing industry. He has been a vital member of the MC2 team since the company’s inception in 1999. As CMO, Murphy directs all marketing efforts for the company, including the EXHIBITOR FastTrak seminar program and new sales initiatives. He frequently speaks on the topic of marketing and sales and is a regular contributor to Business2Community.com. He is based out of MC2’s corporate headquarters in Chestnut Ridge, New York.