Since the 1990s, CRM has given companies the ability to store more prospect and customer data than ever. Sales and Marketing have used that data to learn more about their prospects and to perfect outreach.

Though CRM provides companies with a single source of truth about their customers and prospects, it can't provide insight into buyer behavior. So now that CRM is just one part of a more robust tech stack, companies are shifting focus toward creating a personalized, seamless customer experience.

What has remained (despite that shift) is the tension between sales and marketing teams. It remains an obstacle to true sales and marketing alignment.

Creating an effective and engaging customer experience requires that both Sales and Marketing put the customer at the center of their process rather than struggle for control over the experience itself.

As a new, more tech-savvy generation of sales and marketing leaders emerge, closed-won deals and growing customer relationships are the only metrics that matter.

Here's how successful companies work together to ensure the buyer's journey stays top of mind.

1. Shared Metrics

Deals can get lost in translation when Sales and Marketing don't speak the same language. But measuring the progress and health of a prospect is critical. If Sales uses one set of terms and metrics to measure the sales process and Marketing uses another, the two teams can waste valuable time and resources working against each other. For example, Marketing may celebrate when it hits a demand-generation goal, but if those leads don't result in deals, the entire company loses.

Pipeline positioning also is vital, and that requires a single set of measurements for a company. Some 44% of an inside sales group's pipeline is generated by Marketing, and 66% is generated by Sales, according to The Bridge Group.

Ensuring that the leads in a pipeline are handled with the same care and measured with the same yardstick is the only way to create an effective customer experience across departments and from initial contact to close.

2. A Customer-Centric Timeline

Once an organization develops its common sales and marketing language, it needs to build a customer-focused timeline.

When sales and marketing leaders work together to create a sales process, they also develop a working knowledge of the initiatives carried out by both teams. Though the sales process is different for every company, Sales and Marketing must identify the common milestones that signal success at each stage of that process.

Communication of those milestones is as important as the language used to convey them.

Some 77% of best-in-class organizations report having a "good" or "strong" sales and marketing relationship when leaders of each team meet regularly, according to an Aberdeen Group study.

The prospect of more meetings is rarely attractive, but a simple weekly or biweekly check-in for sales and marketing teams may be enough to ensure that efforts don't diverge or get duplicated. Those meetings also can offer both team leaders the opportunity to check timeline benchmarks and make sure customers' needs are being met at all stages of the sales cycle.

3. Recognizing Customers Are People

The temptation to use data and analytics as a substitute for old-fashioned customer interaction can be strong for sales and marketing leaders focused on closing deals. But companies sell to people, not data points.

Despite the rising prevalence of sales tech, the need for a genuine human touch will never diminish.

An effective sales and marketing team finds, nurtures, and closes deals; data and analytics can improve that process. But the close of a deal marks the beginning of a relationship between a company and its customer.

Sales and Marketing must work together to land deals and work with every other team in the organization to ensure healthy long-term customer relationships.

From product to customer success, every touchpoint during the process must be personalized and measured for effectiveness. When data is used to inform and enhance the customer experience, both customers and companies win.

* * *

The battle between Sales and Marketing often starts at the top and persists because of a lack of alignment. But Sales and Marketing can work together to guide the buyer's journey, create a common set of metrics, and ensure the company is positioned to meet and exceed customer expectations. The result is a company whose customers are more loyal—and that's good for business.

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Sales and Marketing Should Work Together to Keep the Buyer's Journey Top of Mind

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image of Sharmin Kent

Sharmin Kent is a marketing content specialist at TinderBox, sales automation software that increases productivity with data-driven sales documents in the cloud.

LinkedIn: Sharmin Kent

Twitter: @STMKent