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Get it Together, Man: How to Build True Sales and Marketing Alignment

Honestly, the whole “sales versus marketing” thing has gotten pretty old.

We’re all on the same side, with the same ultimate goal: revenue. So why do we make it so hard on ourselves to work together, when then end product is always so much better?

We all know the arguments. The marketing team is mad because sales doesn’t use the content they create, use CRM and marketing automation system correctly, or even maintain the database or run with the leads they generate.

And of course, sales is mad at marketing because they don’t feel marketing is creating usable content, they don’t have time to create a million different kinds of emails, they don’t see how the marketing nurture process is relevant to their job, and they see marketing technology as a nuisance.

Sales, you need marketing. Marketing, you need sales. It’s that simple. Here’s what you do: talk to each other and create systems that work for BOTH of you.

Thing is, both sales and marketing have valid points. But finger-pointing isn’t going to get either of you anywhere. You have to find ways to be respectful of each other’s needs, goals and the reality of day-to-day job functions. 

First, find common ground

You’ll never be able to work together if you’re not starting from the same base-level understanding of how things are defined. Make sure you have a common understanding for things like:

  • What is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?
  • What we should do with that MQL at each stage in the process?
  • How should the software classify and handle MQLs as well as SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads)?
  • Who is responsible for what in the process?

Without common ground, each department will continue to operate only in its best interest, based exclusively on the way it handles these elements.

One of the biggest tips I can offer here is to employ empathy — think like your counterpart. Open a conversation that uses the mentality they have, so rather than using terms like ‘MQL’ with your sales team, ask them how they find people to talk to.  Ask them how many of those conversations result in next steps, and on down the line.  Soon you’ll be having a dialogue, rather than an interrogation. 

Then, work together on processes

Sales, know that marketing technology is not something cooked up by marketing to make your lives difficult. Marketing, sales is not deliberately trying to be difficult. Your software and technology processes need to be designed in such a way that they don’t create an unnecessary burden on either side. Marketing and CRM software can be incredible powerful, but only if they work seamlessly together to serve both sales and marketing.

Try actually talking to each other about where the hang-ups are and find solutions for them together. Marketing may be creating great content, but perhaps it’s not in the best format for sales to use while working prospects. Or maybe sales just isn’t using it.

Find ways to make things better for both sides. If sales doesn’t want to lose the personal touch with fully automated nurturing communications, then marketing can work with them to create chunks of marketing verbiage and content that can be incorporated into a salesperson’s personal email messages. Talk to your team about why their prospects go dark in the sales process and then listen in on a few calls.

Based on those interactions make recommendations around content that can be created or positioned to alleviate the disconnects you saw.  To much of marketing begins as an idea the marketer dreams up, instead base your content on actual objections or buyer requests.

The important thing to remember is that a process takes you from end-to-end. If you’re only focusing on one part of it, the other parts suffer. By putting aside your differences to embrace common goals and a systematic way of achieving them, you’ll have happier employees doing their jobs well—and the ROI will reflect that.

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