Do marketing and sales functions work well together at your business? Is there communication? Are you taking full advantage of the skills and the hard work that is being done by each? If not, you’re not performing nearly as well as you could if marketing and sales were able to align themselves. Make the most of what each has to offer and maximize the organizational resources spent on revenue generation.
Being in the advertising business, I see – close up and personal – how a variety of businesses operate. And all too often, I see a disconnect between marketing and sales. That’s a big problem because in this day and age of integrated marketing and online lead generation, the lines between marketing and sales are actually becoming more blurred. If you’re doing it right, it should be hard to tell where marketing ends and sales begins. Customers are too mobile, too informed and too engaged to allow gaps in the internal day-to-day activities designed to generate sales and revenue.
Don’t make this mistake. Some tension between marketing and sales is normal and can even be healthy, but the relationship needs guidance. Fixing the gap between them may not always be easy due to organization structure, culture and history. But the fixes are there, and they can often be straightforward and the results remarkable.
Successfully bridging the gap means that lives become more intertwined and ideas are exchanged regularly and in real-time. Plans are universally bought into because they are built together as one harmonious group. Metrics are shared. Marketing uses the salespeople’s knowledge of how customers and prospects think and behave. Sales gains a better appreciation of what marketing is doing and starts speaking some of the same language. Marketing and sales interface in a meaningful and productive manner. Morale improves. And most importantly, sales revenue increases.
The potential upside to bridging the divide between the two business disciplines is monumental. A study conducted by MathMarketing in 2013 found that alignment between marketing and sales can help your company become 67% better at closing deals and generate 209% more revenue from marketing.
Up for the task? Take the following steps to move the two functions into a more productive relationship:
- Insist on communication. Hold regular meetings between marketing and sales. Talk about opportunities and resolve problems. Agree on action items that will be reviewed regularly and for which people are held accountable.
- Create team assignments. Plan and work together on projects designed to achieve identifiable and measurable results. Bring everyone to the table in developing marketing plans and get them working together in interdisciplinary groups.
- Locate marketers and salespeople together. When people are physically close, they will cross paths more often, share spontaneous conversations, interact more often and generally work more closely together every day. There is one story of a bank that located its marketing and sales functions in an empty shopping mall with different groups and teams each allocated in a storefront. Be creative in designing interactive space!
- Clean up the “hand-off” between marketing and sales funnels. Marketing plays the lead role in creating the marketing plan, promoting brand awareness, building brand preference and generating sales leads. A flawed hand-off system to salespeople threatens to break the sales cycle and lower close rates. Maximize the opportunity by focusing on an effective system of passing leads along to salespeople and establishing a system to track and measure.
- Set shared revenue targets and reward systems. The organization will not succeed unless marketing and sales share responsibility for revenue objectives. Achieve this shared environment with integrated metrics and hold joint review sessions to discuss CRM reports and dashboard “spreadsheet mash-ups”. If you can measure, then you can motivate.
While it may take some time and effort to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, the upside is well worth it. Don’t wait for a bad situation to take action. The benefit is there now and there are some basic initiatives you can undertake to be on your way to a more profitable, and harmonious, company.
What are you waiting for?