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The Importance of Aligning Sales and Marketing to Grow Top-Line Revenue

June 24, 2021
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Sales and Marketing seem like two heads of one organization. Two heads are better than one, so the saying goes. But also, there’s a tale of a two-headed monster that fights with itself. It is important to avoid the second scenario by aligning these two and making them work like a well-oiled machine. Bringing top talent to these departments and equipping them with tools will not help if they don’t communicate with each other. For a CEO, it is crucial to understand the state of their company when it comes to the sales-marketing relationship.

Is Your Business Sales-Driven or Marketing-Driven?

Both sales and marketing are important for every business, but their balance will differ. Some businesses rely on a huge sales force, with tactical support from marketing. B2B companies often get their qualified leads from referrals, networking, and proactive sales teams. For other firms, marketing is the driver of growth, with sales supporting in the closing stage. In the consumer goods industry, large audiences discover the product through advertising and marketing and they influence their buying decision until conversion. Some businesses have a more balanced approach. In the auto industry, manufacturers invest a lot in their marketing for awareness and visibility, but they also invest in dealers who are responsible for closing the sale when marketing brings someone through the door. You should know what the balance is in your organization and the industry you are in in order to build the best sales and marketing teams and ensure collaboration between them. According to Chron, a sales-driven organization’s primary goal is to secure a maximum return on short-term investment, while a marketing-driven company develops its activities, product offerings, and business strategies around the needs and wants of consumers. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your organization currently more sales or more marketing-driven?
  • Who is creating the pipeline – marketing efforts or a sales force?
  • Where is the conversion happening?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Where are you currently investing?

Assess the State of Sales and Marketing Functions in Our Organization

Once you understand your main driver of conversions you should assess the personnel, resources, and relationship of your marketing and sales departments. This assessment identifies gaps that you might be missing. Surprisingly, companies that traditionally rely on sales often have underdeveloped sales departments or processes, and those that benefit from marketing actually underinvest in sales. According to Harvard Business Review, there are four types of relationships between marketing and sales departments: Undefined, Defined, Aligned and Integrated. This is a great starting point and a potential eye-opener for you.

Do a transparent assessment of:

  • The relationship between your marketing and sales.
  • Human resources: How many people work in your teams? What do you outsource? Where are the known gaps?
  • Budget: Calculate ROI and ROAS to determine where you overinvest and underinvest.
  • Operations: what tools do you use? What kind of data do you collect? How much is automated?

Make Technology Your Friend 

Technology exists to help both sales and marketing; CRM systems, marketing automation platforms, data analytics tools – to mention a few. Yet, once installed, issues emerge. Systems are underutilized or not integrated. Whether you already invested in such a platform, or you’re planning to do so, keep this in mind:

  • Research what platforms will fit your company’s needs best right now, and into the future.
  • Hire experts to help you with integration. It pays off to hire someone before you lose months or even years figuring it out yourself only to achieve mediocre results.
  • Your staff will likely need substantial training on the platform to best leverage its capabilities.

Don’t Compete, Cooperate – Share the Intelligence

Many marketing and sales departments see each other as competitors rather than complementary parts of the same company. Research shows that businesses with strong sales and marketing alignment are 67% more effective at closing deals, 58% more effective at retaining customers and driving 208% more revenue due to their marketing efforts. Create processes that help your marketing and sales share the intelligence.

  • Sales can help marketing understand the ideal customer.
  • Marketing can help sales understand a buyer’s journey and differences in customer intentions.
  • Sales can help marketing understand average contract size, customer lifecycle, and won vs. loss rate in the pipeline.
  • Marketing can help sales understand conversion rates from various channels.
  • Sales can share communication tactics that marketing can replicate in their campaigns.
  • Marketing can update sales on current campaigns so that sales know what to expect and provide a quick follow-up.
  • Sales can provide accurate pipeline values and lead updates so that marketing can calculate ROAS and optimize spend.

There are many ways in which the alignment can be achieved: through ongoing joint meetings, shared lead qualifying process, and transparent reporting.

Decide Where to Put Your Focus Next

Both marketing and sales are important for every company. But now you should decide where to invest. At first, you may choose to build a salesforce since that’s your main business driver. But if you want to keep growing, you will eventually need strong marketing. For example, if you and your competitors invest in big salesforces, then building a recognizable brand and a powerful marketing engine will make you stand out. Create a roadmap for your investments. Follow the steps outlined above to prepare yourself for what’s coming, where to invest next, and how to stay in front of the competition.

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