Although Sales and Marketing work closely together, they don't always see eye to eye—whether in the metrics they're tracking or the approaches they use. But that isn't to say the teams should work in silos.
Marketers can support the sales process in numerous ways to maximize growth in 2022 and beyond. This article shares five top tips and best-practices to help you do so.
1. Align on revenue-driven targets
One of the most important opportunities for better collaboration between Sales and Marketing is better alignment on targets. When revenue is the overarching metric, it's critical—not only for the health of the sales team but also for the overall health of the business—that Marketing strive for the same objectives as Sales does.
Inbound lead generation, in particular, can be a strong example of that. Within the marketing department, it's common for individual targets to involve either Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) or Sales-qualified leads (SQLs). However, as those leads progress through the funnel, many of them drop out or they are disqualified, which results in fewer opportunities for Sales to close new customers and therefore generate revenue.
As a result, marketing teams can still have a largely successful quarter by generating a high quantity of leads even if sales are still a stretch away from the revenue target. But that success isn't always felt across the company. That's because the key driver of growth is revenue; without it, the company falls short.
In such instances, it would be beneficial for marketing teams to align more closely with and prioritize targets that have a more direct link to revenue. The best way marketing teams can aid Sales in that regard is to focus on lead quality rather than quantity.
That can be done in numerous ways, but the most efficient is to create stricter, more detailed qualification criteria for leads that better align with the people Sales actually manages to sell to and where the most revenue lies.
For instance, are some company sizes more difficult to sell to? Are there certain territories with lower inclination to pay?
Even above that, you want to ensure that the leads are experiencing enough pain to want to buy and implement your product or service. For example, because my company sells software targeted at managing contract lifecycles, we qualify leads based on how many templated contracts companies use, or how much time or revenue they're losing as a result of not automating their contract workflow.
It's also valuable for the marketing team's quota and targets to include revenue targets in some way. Perhaps a portion of the team members' bonuses could be contingent on the company's meeting revenue targets, or marketing teams could be offered a commission for individual deals.
2. Create best-in-class sales enablement resources
Another area where marketing teams can add value for sales teams is to create and share exceptional sales enablement resources. Those can be shared directly with prospects to push them further along in their buyer journey or they can be used to better inform account executives (AEs) and business development reps (BDRs) when selling to certain personas.
Case studies are an excellent example.
However, what sales teams really need from Marketing is for case studies to cover a wide range of use cases and personas, ensuring that Sales can confidently showcase the value its product has for particular prospects.
One of the biggest mistakes I've seen marketing and sales teams make when generating sales enablement resources is to invest time creating case studies that repeat the same use case and industry. Instead, sales and marketing teams need to collaborate to identify resource gaps, and then reach out to customers that can bridge those gaps.
The same goes for competitor comparison pages. Although the marketing team can create plenty of direct-comparison pages that assist prospects and BDRs in understanding the nuanced differences between products, those will be useful to Sales only if the competitors it comes up against regularly in formal and informal discussions are covered comprehensively and as a priority.
3. Polish the company's brand messaging
Inconsistent brand messaging is a common cause of breakdown in sales discussions because incoherent value propositions and messaging result in a lack of trust among prospects. The consequence of that is felt even worse in startups, which are already facing an uphill battle to gain credibility.
That's why—whether in BDR discovery calls, cold email outbound, or the late stages of contract negotiations—it's essential to have a single source of truth for brand messaging.
But if marketing teams really want to move the needle with their brand messaging framework, they should make it as granular as possible. That means outlining not only what the company's value areas are and how its positioning story reads but also what tone of voice the team should adopt and how to present the company online.
You might even produce a separate messaging framework for each stage of a lead's progression, from pre-conversion to post-conversion, and even the specific messaging to use when Sales comes up against individual competitors. That detail not only acts as an effective training resource for new members of the sales team but also combines thorough research with careful fine-tuning to find the language and propositions that set sales teams up for success with new prospects.
4. Provide detailed information about leads, when available
Marketing teams often possess intel that sales teams have yet to discover, and that information can often prove useful in building rapport faster with prospects and understanding what makes them tick. Finding an effective way to share such insights with the sales team can prove invaluable when pursuing certain leads and ensuring that the demos delivered are as focused as possible so leads can be nurtured effectively.
A prime example is page attribution, which can be used to inform marketing development reps (MDRs), BDRs, and AEs of what pages certain prospects converted and landed on. That can then help them infer what prospects are looking for specifically and what they searched to find you, which enables Sales to deliver more targeted information during discovery calls, for example.
Similarly, if certain inbound leads were disqualified early on previously because they were seeking a software feature that has yet to be developed, for example, that information can be used to trigger outreach to that prospect once the feature in question has been shipped. By accumulating all of that info and sharing it among teams, Marketing can ensure that the sales team's efforts are more personalized and meaningful—and therefore better resonate with prospects.
5. Establish a strong feedback loop
Marketing and Sales must collaborate to develop a strong feedback loop whereby discrepancies and challenges both departments encounter can be addressed quickly and efficiently, rather than being left to quarter's end.
If, say, the leads being generated aren't of a high enough quality, it might be because a certain page is performing poorly, resulting in a lower number of high-value, high-intent leads. Alternatively, it might be that the system used for booking demos and meetings is failing.
Rather than waiting until the end of the quarter to review those issues, marketing teams need to work with sales teams to flag and investigate problems as soon as they surface. You might consider weekly meetings where the marketing team discusses inbound performance with MDRs who are handling and qualifying the leads before they progress to AEs.
You'll also want to establish an outlet for instant communication between teams—Slack, for example. That allows marketing and sales teams to respond to queries, assess leads, and update each other on the progress of projects in real-time.
* * *
The age-old conflict between Sales and Marketing prevails only when you let it. In reality, marketing teams can add a lot of value to the sales process, and vice versa.
But without aligning on mutual objectives, sharing knowledge, and processing feedback effectively, communication between Marketing and Sales can deteriorate, and it can feel like the teams are running in different directions or working in silos.
What sales teams really want and need from the marketing function is greater attention to how leads progress throughout the funnel and why, as well as insights into what might be creating friction in the sales process and how to fix it.
By collaborating on companywide objectives and providing valuable sales enablement resources, Marketing can make bigger, more meaningful contributions to the company's bottom line.
More Resources on How Marketing Can Support Sales
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
You may like these other MarketingProfs articles related to Marketing Management:
- How to Gain Managerial Approval for Your Go-to-Market Strategy
- Marketing as a Service, or How to Improve B2B Marketing Impact
- The Shift From Digital Transformation to Digital Evolution | Marketing Smarts Live Show
- The Top Driver of Employee Retention Is Meaning
- Better Together: The Importance of Aligning Sales and Marketing Teams
- Sales and Marketing Alignment Insights, Strategies, and Success Indicators: Matt Heinz on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]