When I first started hearing about this idea of sales and marketing being a strained relationship, I didn't really understand. At that point, I think I had just been very lucky that all my experiences with marketing and sales alignment were positive. It was just a big ol' love fest over here at Tribute Media.
But I've seen the data. I've watched some of our clients struggle. And ultimately, the proof is in the numbers in the State of Inbound report.
Only 22% of respondents reported that their teams are tightly aligned. Forty-four percent report they are generally aligned, which isn't a bad place to be.
However, for as many people who feel tightly aligned (22%), there are even more (25%) who report some contention in the relationship between sales and marketing (either that they are rarely aligned or misaligned).
For those looking to improve the relationship, alignment and general understanding between these two departments, here are a few super simple ideas to get you started.
One of the easiest (and most beneficial) things for marketing and sales to work on together is the creation (or updating) of buyer personas. Just as we always say that buyer personas are the foundation of your marketing efforts (because you have to understand your audience before you can serve them relevant content), they can also be the foundation of your marketing and sales alignment.
First of all, marketing will win points with sales by not hooking leads that sales doesn't want to work with. And sales can take a lot of the guesswork out of the process for marketing by providing the benefit of their front-line experience and describing the best and easiest leads to work with.
When sales and marketing work together to create buyer personas, both teams will have to put forth far less effort, you'll end up with a more accurate finished product, and by working together, you'll strengthen the relationship between the two departments.
I know. Meetings, meetings and more meetings. It can get exhausting. While some companies may benefit from having a specific meeting of which the sole purpose is "smarketing" or sales and marketing alignment, often, you can achieve the same effect by having these departments regularly check in with each other during meetings of another purpose. For example, someone from marketing might attend weekly sales meetings, or someone from sales might attend a marketing planning meeting.
There is an important distinction here: keeping the lines of communication open between sales and marketing does not require every member of both departments in every meeting where sales and/or marketing is discussed. If your management team meets regularly, the leadership from each department can represent the issues of each and work together at that level to make sure each department's activities align with their shared goals.
Often, when a company participates in networking events and tradeshows, they send members of the sales team to work the booth and rub elbows with potential customers. Sending a member of the marketing team with a member of the sales team offers a few benefits.
For starters, marketing gets to see sales "in their natural habitat," which can go a long way toward understanding what sales experiences in the field. This is also an excellent environment for marketing to see, first hand, the kinds of questions prospects have about your product or service.
One of the main functions of marketing is to support sales, and having marketing help at shows is a very literal manifestation of that concept. As a bonus, team members from these different departments get an opportunity to interact outside of the office and get to know each other better.
These may seem like no-brainers, but usually, the simplest solution is the best solution. By giving sales and marketing more opportunities to interact and work together toward a common goal, the more effective both teams will be in their own roles in growing the business.