In this article, you'll learn...
- How to effectively align Sales and Marketing within your organization
- Fixes to five common mistakes made when trying to align Sales and Marketing
As companies embrace the idea of aligning their decentralized sales and marketing teams, they occasionally make decisions that are counter-productive.
A 2008 CMO Council report, Closing the Gap: The Sales & Marketing Alignment Imperative, spoke of an urgent need for marketing, sales, and channel management to align by changing processes and adopting new technologies. More recent studies show that need has only grown.
Since CMO Council's report, many marketers have believed that simply forwarding leads with varying degrees of qualification or making marketing collateral available to a sales team meant sufficiently supporting Sales. That isn't the case.
In fact, a recent IDC study, citing the 80/20 rule, states that "up to 80% of the content [that] marketing generates is not used by sales, even though a lot of it is specifically created for sales and channel enablement." Ouch. For marketers, all the wasted time and money—not to mention potentially being seen as not adding value—hurts.
Beyond the obvious mistake of assuming that Sales and Marketing alignment means simply addressing when the sales team receives leads, marketers continue to make these five classic mistakes:
- Not listening to the field
- Giving Sales the wrong materials
- Assuming the field will "make do"
- Keeping too much control
- Embracing one technology fix
Although those are not the only mistakes that marketers make in the case of a decentralized Sales and Marketing organization, addressing them will help create the framework for identifying other mistakes and ways to correct them.
1. Not Listening to the Field
Sales, particularly field sales or channel partners, are often "out of sight, out of mind." Marketers need to work harder to better understand their needs. That doesn't mean dropping all planned programs to focus on the sometimes whimsical requests of the sales team. Despite the issues of interpersonal communication, marketers need to admit that people in the field are experts at knowing prospects' and customers' needs and desires.
There are entire books written on interpersonal communication and organizational management, so I won't pretend to address any deep-seated organizational issues. Instead, I offer a three-step process to begin to address this issue:
- Identify what a prospect is, what a qualified lead is, what the complete sales process is, and where Marketing or marketing materials should touch prospects during that process.
- Create baseline or templated materials and campaigns that can be used by field staff as a basis for outreach.
- Measure every aspect of every marketing action. Of course, that means measuring the click-through and conversion or marketing-related leads that hit the sales forecast. It also means measuring which templates are being used and which ones were linked to closed deals. Then, repeat.