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Is There a Disconnect Between Sales & Marketing?

In the UK, Maximizer is a proud sponsor of a series of prominent regional business expos and at the most recent one – on our doorstep here in Berkshire – I had the pleasure of holding a free workshop for delegates alongside my colleague Diego Lunardi, our EMEA Head of Sales.

We were naturally delighted that delegates engaged with the session – entitled ‘The Maths of Marketing and the Science of Sales’ – several of whom pinpointed the fact that it was given jointly by sales and marketing as especially praiseworthy. Evidently within their own organisations it is still unusual for both teams to collaborate so closely – and this tallies with my own experience in previous roles.

The impact of ‘siloed’ working

The consequences of this can be catastrophic for companies of all sizes. How does poor alignment between the sales and marketing disciplines manifest itself? Your sales team can become too focused on closing deals without adhering to your company’s carefully crafted marketing messages and values. In the race to hit targets, the ‘box-shifting’ mentality may kick in and obscure the need to engage deeply with the customer’s businesses, which is vital to pave the way for longer-term, solution-based partnerships.

Misaligned teams may also lead to your marketing strategy being formulated without key intelligence from sales people, who have their ears close to the ground. You are unlikely to deliver a consistent experience at every stage of the customer lifecycle – a cornerstone of business success today. What’s more, working closely together is the only way to smooth the transition to the new era of content marketing and move away from outbound sales techniques such as cold-calling, which are falling rapidly out of favour.

Bridging the divide

It’s crucial to address any cultural or practical hurdles that are hindering collaboration within your organisation. Let’s take the cultural aspect first.

When marketing has developed a new campaign, it’s a great idea to hold briefing sessions with sales colleagues to introduce the concept, encourage buy-in and ultimately to define and agree everybody’s actions. Formalising the balance of work between teams – in the guise of a Service Level Agreement – is becoming more common and it works well for many companies.

It’s even better if teams can work closely together on ideas generation for campaigns and content from the outset. If it’s a common gripe of your sales team that they aren’t provided with the collateral they need to move prospects further along their journey to purchase, then get them involved at an earlier stage. We find it really helpful to hold joint brainstorm sessions to identify hot topics, key business challenges and problems faced by customers. This means that members of both teams are highly engaged with the process of understanding our customer’s evolving demands and developing suitable messaging and campaigns.

Not only can sales provide valuable input prior to content being produced, they also bear a responsibility for promoting finalised content as widely as possible. In particular, it’s vital to share it on social media – a key area in which sales and marketing must pull together in today’s digital world.

Best-practice collaboration needs to be demonstrated by the managers of each discipline. They can conduct regular performance updates and encourage team members to hold joint presentations on key accounts, the profile of the ideal customer, or the customer’s typical journey to purchase. This type of collaborative analysis brings teams closer and embeds highly efficient, joined-up working into your company culture.

Technology – the key enabler

Turning to practical solutions to overcoming departmental divides, it’s clear that technology has a major role to play. In fact, improved collaboration is one of the primary drivers behind a company’s desire to implement a CRM solution – and perhaps explains why, given the nature of our business, we excel at teamwork. It’s not unusual for sales and marketing to do a presentation together!

A CRM acts as a bridge between teams, helping staff to get the basics right – sharing information; keeping data organised (a prerequisite in today’s era of tightened data governance); building up a rounded and consistent view of your customers; gaining visibility into each other’s activity and, importantly, into progress and performance.

With this infrastructure in place, you are well on the way to creating a truly integrated sales and marketing operation that listens to customers and delivers personalised interactions based on data-driven intelligence.

One of our customers in the financial services sector, EMCORE Asset Management, recently made the move from spreadsheets to our CRM, and found that it immediately helped them to improve communication and productivity between sales, marketing and service. Interestingly, they also commented that it fostered a greater sense of teamwork – and that is a common experience among our customers. Embracing the right tools can instigate significant cultural changes too.

Whatever your approach, it’s vital to understand how well your teams are functioning individually and as a unit. Working together should be ‘business as usual’ – sales needs marketing, and vice versa! Challenging existing processes and attitudes, encouraging collaboration at a deep level and putting new technology into action, will all help to ensure that your teams work confidently together and are united in delivering your overall business objectives.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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