Marketing leaders at B2B organizations communicate directly with their Sales counterparts to review quantity and quality of inbound leads, to apprise one another of upcoming promotions and sales enablement initiatives and objectives, and to strategically determine the most effective ways for their teams to work together to benefit the organization as a whole.

But, often, these meetings don't include a topic that is possibly the most important of all: existing customers.


Sales teams are hardwired to focus on getting new leads into the pipeline, and they want marketing to partner with them to make that happen. Marketers want that, too. However, it is important to not lose sight of your current customers. After all, they are the ones who got you this far!

Here are six ways in which aligning sales and marketing goals with your current customers can mean the difference between meeting your quarterly goals and hoping next quarter will be better.

1. Use personas to segment your communication

Marketers invest in marketing automation or email marketing systems so that they can track their emails and ensure that they aren't bombarding their database with too many emails. That's all great, but inevitably Marketing unknowingly blasts an account that Sales has an active opportunity with. And it gets noticed, because it is a communication that's at odds with the customer's relationship with the company. The customer ends up thinking, "Don't they know me by now?"

Marketing and Sales need to divide the customer base into personas and regularly discuss the buying behavior of each persona. From there, a plan to communicate with valued information to each persona can be developed that keeps customer engagement high. In addition, the email communication plan should be transparent to Sales so that it can flag active opportunities—to have them removed from communications during the sales cycle if doing so makes sense.

2. Ensure Sales involvement with referrals

A great sales rep always asks new customers whether they know of anyone else who may be interested in the product. Most reps forget to ask or simply aren't asking at the right time or in the right way. On the flip side, sometimes marketers will start a referral program but forget to engage Sales. Marketing and Sales need to be in tight alignment on this one. If they are, referrals can be the best-producing channel for leads and customer acquisition.

One of the keys here is that the referral software be integrated into the Sales CRM system. Sales needs to know whether the lead came from a referral and who it came from so that Sales can call up that customer, thank the referrer, and get more info on the new lead. The referral software should also have a way for sales to input new advocates and referrals into the system so that it is fully tracked and referrals are rewarded without causing operational burdens for Sales.

3. Be strategic in approaching cross-sell and upsell

Your current customers already know how you have helped them be awesome. Why not suggest—by cross-selling or upselling—ways you can help them be even more awesome and increase their profits?

If you are selling into a large company, crossing over into another department can bring all the revenue of a brand-new customer. Usually that cross-sell is left to Sales, based on the assumption that salespeople will have a relationship good enough for their contact to refer them to another department.

But what if Marketing could help? Back to point No. 2: a referral program can be structured so that customers are offered incentives to refer others in their company and to help influence the buying process.

Upselling gets more complicated, because product management is in the mix: They've created release notes for their next great product—and sent them to all customers via an email blast. Sigh.

Just a little discussion with Sales and Marketing could lead to a better understanding of the target customer. Better yet, the beta customers can be tapped to provide quotes and a use case.

4. Use the power of your social influence

Often, social media marketers are an isolated group. They are the front-end communication vehicle for the company, yet typically they have limited interaction with anyone outside of Marketing. And social media channels are often used to push out company news.

But remember: Your customers are on the other end of your social conversations, too! Just as with email, Marketing and Sales need to be in alignment, with targeted messaging campaigns for social media—at the campaign level, or at the account level where the social media team is giving "social love" to key contacts at customer accounts.

5. Get value from your user communities

Most user communities today are a great resource for product tips and tricks. Product management and customer support teams have dedicated resources that push content into the communities and respond to product issues. Fantastic! But where is the effort to harness that user community for cross-sell, upsell, referrals, and advocacy? Maybe you have a banner ad or two, but is that enough? If you're not sure, I'm guessing it's probably not.

Sales and Marketing need to create goals for user communities, so that specific efforts can be devoted to starting conversations that naturally encourage new product discussions (up-sell) or get customers talking about what they like about a product (advocacy). Those kinds of conversations don't organically occur (unless you're lucky).

So, just as with your social media channels, dedicate a marketer to work with Sales, Product Management, and Customer Support to ensure that you are harnessing your user community to achieve its full potential.

6. Give 'em some Love!

You can never give your customers enough recognition, but it doesn't hurt to try! You exist because of them. Their feedback makes you better. Why not give them love in as many ways as you can?

Once Sales and Marketing have discussed the types of customers that they want to attract, it makes sense to highlight the current customers that fit the mold. And I'm not talking about case studies and press releases, but genuinely making those customers feel good about your brand. That might mean giving them an award, or some love on social media, or even inviting them to an exclusive event with executives.

If Sales and Marketing work together on such programs, they can be rewarding for all involved.

* * *

Don't wait for a miraculous organizational shift to align your sales and marketing teams; it probably won't happen. Instead, find the mutual benefits of working collaboratively and communicating regularly. Just throw a few of these items into a calendar invite and re-introduce yourself to your sales or marketing teams. Increasing revenue for your company is a team effort.

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image of Trisha Winter

Trisha Winter is the founder of Focused B2B. She is a former SaaS CMO who helps B2B companies identify and connect with target buyers to drive revenue.

Twitter: @TrishaWinter

LinkedIn: Trisha Winter