Modern marketers know that at the end of the day, if sales aren’t happening, neither is business growth. The best marketing in the world only matters if it results in sales. I learned that the hard way and it has become my personal mission to help sales and marketing work together for the benefit of the buyer. The next generation of sales and marketing leadership are focused on their value to the buyer.
So how can marketers reach across the aisle to sales and start to work together?
- No jargon allowed. Hey, I get it. I came from marketing. I’ve been guilty of saying ‘sales and marketing alignment’, even talking about made up words like ‘smarketing’. The problem is when we use those kinds of words, sales is inwardly rolling their eyes. That sounds like complicated work, and who has time for that when there are quotas to meet and it’s one week away from month end? Whatever perfect word and phrase you come up with, just don’t call it that. If you want to get a salesperson to tune you out, start talking about personas, brand, buyer experience and conversion rate optimization.
- Don’t start planning marketing until you understand the buying and selling process. Listen to calls, go on sales meetings and hear what people’s objections are and the real problems you solve. Not just once, but regularly. Live a day in the life of the buyer and seller. Use that as a starting point to develop profiles by accumulating all that information into one place. Ask what questions buyers ask as they go through the process. What are their communication and mannerisms are like? Getting the personal details about your buyers from the salespeople who talk to them everyday will give you much needed context and personality.
- Establish a sales and marketing service level agreement (SLA). If you make a promise, keep it. A service level agreement is just that. It is a simple checklist of what marketing will do, and what sales will do in response. It informs sales what marketing has done to get a lead to a certain point. In turn, marketing knows that sales will follow up with that lead in a certain timeframe and so many times before that lead gets handed back as “unqualified.” An SLA will help set specific actions to implement the strategy with your metrics and profiles in place.
- Focus on the metrics and numbers. Salespeople are accustomed to being accountable to numbers and metrics. They are more inclined to be focused on results and have strong preferences for how those results are achieved. This is why the first two are so important. You must get sales buy-in for how leads are generated. Your service level agreement (SLA) should also include the metrics and numbers for how many leads need to be generated. Show sales that you are also willing to be held accountable to the numbers.
- Give them the tools. To encourage salespeople to blog, use social media, and develop a personal brand, share the tools and insights you get on a regular basis. Salespeople who blog and see that their blog generates more traffic—or better yet, leads—will be more likely to continue to do so. Salespeople like to work leads that they had a part in developing, so coach and help those that are willing to learn.
- Ask it as a question. In fact, every time you are tempted to tell a salesperson something, try to phrase it as a question. Some people are inclined to challenge authority. By telling them something, rather than asking, you are inviting that challenge. Are they telling you that your leads were crap? Rather than say, “No they weren’t!” ask why they thought so. Interview them and use that information to create more relevant content, then show them how you used that interaction to develop better quality leads.
- It has to be their idea. They will be very resistant otherwise. Here's how you make it their idea. Next time you hear, "Those leads sucked." say, "You know what, you are right, we should scrap the whole campaign. What do you think we should do about it?"
Why do you think sales isn’t more involved with the marketing in your organization?
How do you wish sales would work with you?
Ready to start working with your sales people using these tips?
Create buyer personas together using this template.