The relationship between sales and marketing departments is not always the stuff dreams are made of.
In fact, sometimes it can be a real nightmare with both sides pointing fingers at each other and a total lack of collaboration and alignment.
During my career, I’ve experienced both extremes of this relationship. This post is going to focus on the positive experience and some tips for strengthening your relationship.
First, develop a relationship
You don’t have to be best friends, but take the time to get to know your counterpart and understand what makes him or her tick. I’ve been in some situations where sales leadership had an immediate disdain for marketing (and I felt the same way about them) and these preconceived notions set the stage for failure.
My last role was quite the opposite, and it made all the difference in the world. We took the time to get to know each other as people first and then as sales and marketing professionals. We took the time at the beginning of each meeting to chat about our kids and maybe the score of last night’s game.
While this may seem unnecessary, I would argue quite the opposite. Because we genuinely like each other, we wanted to help the other succeed. We also had a strong enough relationship to disagree and offer constructive criticism.
The relationship between sales and marketing leaders is key – take the time to invest in it. While we no longer work together, Jonathan (the sales leader referenced above) and I still remain friends today and speak regularly.
Implement lead scoring and grading ASAP
First, a truth for my friends in marketing.
Not every lead you generate is qualified and worth a phone call.
That guy who bent your ear for 20 minutes at the trade show booth is not a buyer. He simply enjoyed the free drinks a little too much and REALLY wants that t-shirt that you are giving away. He has no idea what your company even does at this point.
This is why lead scoring and grading is so important. Our friend from the trade show may be an ideal candidate for your services based on his job title (which would equate to his grade), but he has not shown any buying signals at this point and should not be sent to your sales team. Instead, take the time to nurture him until he engages with your marketing and shows buying signals (and meets a qualifying score). Only then should he be sent to your sales team.
Building an scoring and grading system that’s mutually agreed to and rooted in reality will go a long way towards building trust with your sales team and increasing the effectiveness of sales calls.
Collaborate and share knowledge
I work primarily with marketing teams in my current role, but I ALWAYS encourage collaboration with sales when it comes to the previously mentioned Scoring and Grading.
The truth is that marketing may THINK that they know what the perfect prospect looks like and engagement with which asset shows the strongest buying signal, but they don’t. The only way to know this information is through direct interaction with the customers – and that is something that sales has.
When doing scoring and grading, conduct a workshop with sales leaders and a few of the top sales representatives. Work collaboratively to prioritize marketing assets, engagements and scoring/grading thresholds. Both teams need to have skin in the game and agree to service level agreements to make the process work.
This collaboration should not just be limited to scoring and grading, however — it should extend to other areas of the business too. Just think of all the great reports and metrics that both teams have. Are they being shared?
Using opportunities: Help me to help you
Senior leadership looks to marketing to provide key ROI metrics and report on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. While it’s true that Salesforce and Pardot can provide outstanding reporting on campaign influence, all these capabilities are negated if opportunities are not used properly by the organization and sales.
One of the most common issues that I see is contact roles not being associated with opportunities in Salesforce. Since marketing relies on campaigns to track attribution and there is no direct correlation to opportunities, sales MUST add contact roles to create the linkage. Without contact roles, there will be holes and inaccuracies in all your ROI reports.
(Side note: Realizing that the life a sales person is a busy one and associating contact roles may not the #1 priority, the team at Sercante Lab has developed the Automated Opportunity Contact Roles app to give your sales team a hand.
Help your sales team and yourself by checking it out today.)
Be realistic with tasks & alerts
The automation tools in Pardot give marketing teams the power to create tasks and update notes fields in Salesforce using completion actions. Use this power wisely!
I’ll be the first to admit that I fell into the trap of:
“Not going to call my leads? I’ll create tasks for you — and send you reminders on top of it!”
The big danger here is that you could easily clutter the tasks assigned to your sales team and distract them from calling the hottest leads and contacts based on your agreed upon scoring and grading rules. You could actually hurt the number of opportunities being closed if you use this power with reckless abandon.
My advice is to again, talk to your friends in sales before creating tasks for them. Agree to what actions warrant a task and commit to a follow-up SLA.
By working together, tasks and alerts can be an excellent tool in getting the right people to sales – at the right time.
Celebrate the wins — together!
Sales routinely celebrates success in the form of SPIFFs, parties and sales awards, but it’s also important to recognize the contributions from the marketing team.
Like it or not, sales and marketing are related and can’t succeed without the efforts of the other. Sales needs the demand generation, brand awareness and lead qualification from marketing. In turn, marketing needs sales to close the business to demonstrate ROI and justify their budget.
Some of the best interactions that I’ve experienced are when sales and marketing come together to celebrate wins collectively. It can be something as simple as team lunch at the office or drinks after work.
Simply getting your sales and marketing teams together in a positive environment will help them come together as a team and provide motivation to better support one another.
There’s no time like the present: Make the effort for better marketing & sales alignment
There is no downside to better aligning your sales and marketing teams. A trusting relationship takes time to build, so why not start today?
Pick an item or two from this list and go to work — it’s sure to help.
Along the way, you are also going to develop your own set of alignment strategies and we would love to hear them. Share your successes in the comments below.