The separation between Sales and Marketing departments stems from years of operating autonomously. The divide can be deeply ingrained in businesses processes and culture, and the problem isn’t solved by a loose agreement between department heads to work more closely together.
A simple test to assess the scale of the problem is to look at how each department interprets value. Ask both teams to write down the answer to two questions:
"What does our company do, and what problems do we solve for our customers?"
The range of answers can be alarming, and digging deeper typically presents multiple versions of terms that should have consistent definitions, for example, product messaging, lead qualification (MQL/SQL), or the metrics used to gauge success.
Increased market disruption, lower competitive barriers to entry, and advanced analytics have shone a spotlight on the chronic lack of sales and marketing alignment, forcing companies to review their leadership and enablement strategies. This raises a number of critical questions:
Where is the next disruptive threat?
How do we drive innovation?
How do we scale?
How do we effectively onboard new hires?
How do we make sense of the data?
Who do we bring in to help?
Technological advancement has given us a greater insight into customer behaviour. However, if these tools are not utilised correctly, there is a knowledge gap where useful information isn’t being transferred between the Sales and Marketing teams.
At a sales enablement level, this alignment can be improved by remedying the most common disconnects:
Feedback that Marketing should be sharing with Sales:
1. Who has heavily engaged with an article or shared it?
2. Who has been on the website and how often?
3. The archives of useful content that hasn’t been mined or repurposed for years.
4. How Marketing might describe the company in fresh ways.
5. All context, potential triggers, and buyer behaviour information behind MQL’s.
6. The type of feedback they need to create content for each stage of the buyer journey and how this supports the sales efforts.
Feedback that Sales should be sharing with Marketing:
1. Customer challenges and industry insights to share in collateral.
2. What customers say they like about the company messaging and how it is communicated.
3. The conversion rate on the leads generated, what worked and what didn’t.
4. New niche areas of opportunity to create targeted campaigns.
5. Changes in customer communication habits and the best channels to reach the target audience.
6. Why some leads aren’t worth looking at, no matter how hot Marketing think they are.
7. Testimonials and customer success stories.
Many Sales and Marketing teams remain unaware of the value of this data to colleagues. Autonomy and a silo mentality are a large part of the problem, as is a lack of understanding changing customer habits and the technology to map it. However, it’s 2018 and time to empower your organisation digitally and work from the same sheet.
The first step in “enterprise” alignment is a universal commitment to company core values. This is beautifully explained by Steve Jobs’ in his timeless marketing speech that launched the 1997 “Think Different” campaign.
This speech not only shows the genius and visionary of Jobs but also how, despite accelerated disruption, the answer has not changed. What has changed is customer buying habits, and enablement strategies have little benefit if not aligned to the customer journey. More to follow on this in future articles.
A fantastic book on the importance of unity from a world-class leader isBill Mcdermott - Winners Dream - A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office. My full review can be found here.