Sales and marketing alignment. When it works, the results speak for themself. But when it doesn’t, it can feel like you’ve been thrown back to 1992, where sales take the glory and your marketing team is demoted from revenue-generating machines into ‘the colouring department’.
So how do you make sure you avoid the pitfalls of the past and set your team up for success? In a world obsessed with AI it might surprise you that sales and marketing alignment can’t be achieved by robots alone.
The key to success here is the human factor. Before you even think about the tools to use or metrics to measure, you need to take it back to basics and get your sales and marketing teams aligned at a human level. And although there are steps for both teams to take, there are three key steps that can be led by marketing and make a big impact right away.
1. Relationships Are Key And It Starts With Co-team Building
To stop siloes it’s crucial that the teams can build relationships and start working as an extension of one another. After all, neither team can handle the whole customer journey without the support of the other.
Once you’ve adopted this mindset it’s time to launch team-building activities. While joint team meetings and weekly catchups may seem like a logical starting point, they won’t be truly effective without a foundation of human connection.
Although we all know the benefits of team building, there can also be negative responses from people who see these activities as ‘forced fun’. Because of this, marketers should do what they do best: market the initiative to their target audience (in this case, sales!). Encourage your team to be positive about the event and start building interest just like you would with a marketing event.
Promote team bonding by involving both teams in choosing an activity or space to come together. Their input is essential for a positive introduction to the new strategy, whether it’s virtual, physical, or hybrid.
2. Learn Each Other’s Language & Adapt
Although sales and marketing share common goals, they often have different perspectives and priorities which can feel like you’re speaking different languages. To navigate these differences you need to foster good communication and encourage adaptability. Marketers will naturally find themselves leading on this, but you’ll soon see the benefits. Without friction or resentment able to build, , both teams will work together more seamlessly.
Here’s two examples of commons challenges that can be solved with this outlook:
- Challenge: Sales prioritise their sales tasks and fail to deliver on promises to collaborate on marketing projects that will benefit them.
- Reality: Sales are commission-based so naturally chase the opportunity that’s immediately presented to them. They’re taught to be on the phone, so when it rings there’s no getting them back.
- Solution: Marketers need to directly link these projects to generating commission and building their pipeline. Using this as a driver will help salespeople prioritise marketing tasks in the same way as answering the phone because they have the same potential outcome.
Marketers like to know the whole journey; sales are focused on closing more deals
Marketers aim to understand the entire customer journey and delve into tactics. However, it’s important for marketing to provide actionable information that directly impacts the sales team. For example, instead of focusing on the specific tactics, share the predicted number of inbound leads generated for the month with the sales team. By doing this you’ll enable them to focus more on their priority – closing deals.
Make working together easier by understanding how the individual salesperson works best. Some prefer clear email instructions, while others like chatting in person or virtually. The more you work together, the more you’ll get to know their habits and can adapt as needed.
3. Boundaries Are Not Just For Your Personal Life
In most companies, marketing and sales teams have no clue about each other’s daily workload. They’re in the dark about how long things take, the resources needed, or the impact of requests on workload.
As a result, seemingly simple requests can throw projects off track and grow resentment. The key is to set clear boundaries from the get-go. Educate each team about what the other can actually do and is willing to do.
To combat this, make sure your marketing team implements these steps from the start:
- Clarify marketing’s role and the types of requests they handle for the sales team
- Provide alternative resources for tasks outside of marketing’s scope (e.g., document reformatting)
- Clearly communicate available resources and realistic timelines before committing to requests
- Establish clear responsibilities when collaborating on projects/campaigns
- Set transparent timelines and maintain regular communication for updates
- Align expectations and positively address any misconceptions quickly
- Be open about workloads and deadline achievability
Building On A Strong Foundation
By implementing these steps, you can drive sales and marketing alignment and avoid the pitfalls of the past. It’s all about embracing the human factor, fostering relationships, adapting when needed, and setting clear boundaries.
With a strong foundation in place, you can take the next steps of launching new initiatives and ways of working together that will be more effective now they have a human relationship and understand one another.