Ultimately, Sales and Marketing share the same goals; increase revenue and market share. But historically, they haven't always worked together to their full potential. It used to be that sales reps would drive around with a boot full of flyers and brochures in unopened cardboard boxes. Today, media and nurture campaigns are likely to sit in a sales reps' unopened inboxes.
Given that both teams share the same ultimate goals, how can we get Sales and Marketing working together, to reduce waste, raise campaign ROI and promote unified brand messages.
1. Interview sales first
Whether you're developing a credible position for your offer or looking to develop leads, the first place to start is with your sales people. In B2B, Sales and Business Development are on the front line with your customers every day, building relationships and trying to keep customers happy.
Find out what challenges Sales face. Ask what they believe are your customers' key challenges. Involve Sales in any VP or message development workshops led by Marketing. However, keep in mind that you will be told insights from a sales POV. Interviewing Sales may not give you what you ultimately need but it will give you a good place to start developing messages that can either be validated or refuted by customers themselves. When brand or message development projects are led by Marketing but include Sales, you will only learn more about your customers and achieve stronger campaign outcomes.
2. Use each team's strengths
Marketing has the responsibility to create content and campaigns. However, engaging Sales in the process is not only beneficial to the outcome but essential to having both teams fully participating at all stages of the project. Input from Sales allows ownership of the campaign as well as an opportunity for Marketing and Sales to agree on the objectives and qualification of a lead.
Marketing are skilled at creating messages and campaigns while Sales have an intimate knowledge of specific customers and the real, day to day challenges they face. This in-depth customer knowledge helps develop content that can not only increase the likelihood of customer engagement but also increase the likelihood of leads being followed up by Sales.
3. Nurture (sales and) marketing
Because of their in-depth customer knowledge, Sales are in a position to give valuable feedback when developing customer profiles, nurture campaigns and engaging content.
Whilst Marketing has responsibility for the role, collaborating with Sales can support the entire process as Sales will have a vested interest in knowing that the leads are "serious" customers who are closer to the buying/quoting stage of purchase cycle. Once again, collaboration will facilitate a higher percentage of leads being followed up, at an ideal time during the purchase cycle.
4. Make sales people the heroes
Whenever the opportunity arises during the creation of content, feature your sales people. This not only demonstrates a commitment to collaboration, it will also showcase the expertise of your sales people and humanise the brand for your customers. Rather than appear as just another marketing campaign, customers get to "meet" the people they will be dealing with, making the whole marketing and purchase process more real. In my experience, B2B customers respect and appreciate the sales people they deal with because they help customers run their business.
5.Know each others' KPIs
Sustainable collaboration between Sales and Marketing starts with a willingness to communicate and work together; mutual respect. When both teams are clear about each others' KPIs this helps bring stakeholders to the same page and also allow campaigns to be structured to best support mutual goals. Regular check-in meetings where feedback is given and taken into account can not only help with campaign adjustments but also highlight any previously unforeseen opportunities that may be uncovered during the course of the campaign.
In my experience, organisations that have close working relationships between Marketing and Sales are not just likely to have higher sales conversion rates but also better customer retention rates. When I recently tried to quantify this via Google, figures quoted by various sources ranged between 30% - 38% improvement in retention rates.