Partnering for Profitability

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Seamas Eagen, Campaigner
Seamas Eagen, Campaigner

We've all seen our favorite sports team lose control in the middle of a big game when communication fails—no more goals are scored, players are knocked down, and frustration runs rampant on the sidelines. This is the case when sales and marketing teams aren't in sync. Many times, the two sides aren't even showing up to the same game, let alone playing on the same team.

Today more than ever before, sales and marketing must be aligned for an organization to succeed. This is an unconditional bottom-line reality in business, and should be included within the core of initiatives for every department. It's not enough for sales and marketing to take ownership of their share of the customer process, they must accept accountability for creating and improving the entire workflow, from lead generation to conversion. The question still remains, though: Which strategies need to be in your playbook to achieve these goals? Begin coaching your team with these five “play to win” strategies:

Change your uniforms

Sales and marketing have different objectives and are measured by different scoring systems. This disparity results in teams watching their own performance without respect to how it impacts team play. Marketing may be tasked with and measured on generating a specific total number of leads or achieving a specific cost per lead, while sales is held to the fire on converting those leads into customers. The answer is to measure on a cost-per-acquisition basis, aligning sales and marketing objectives, putting the focus on quality of leads rather than quantity.

Don't drop the baton

Olympic relay teams have experienced heartbreaking defeat when they failed to smoothly pass the baton from one runner to the next. It doesn't matter if you have a team of top performers if they can't connect their efforts and hand off the baton without dropping it. The solution for seamless baton-passing starts with understanding the race on a more comprehensive level. Marketing teams run the first leg, setting the pace by creating and implementing messages that drive prospects into the lead funnel. Sales teams are charged with the anchor leg and crossing the finish line with new business. If your organization has no idea what happens when the baton is handed off, you run the risk of wasting money and resources.

Get rid of fair-weather fans

Loyalty can't be understated when it comes to business, and finding true-blue fans is a challenge. Everything starts with finding the right market and the best targets that won't jump on, and then off, your bandwagon. Marketing teams can easily attract the wrong type of prospect, resulting in the bandwagon effect. Instead of wasting time and money on the wrong crowd and casting too wide of a net, marketing teams should have a clear profile of who to pursue. If sales and marketing work together to develop client profiles, it will inevitably secure the generation of high-quality leads. It's all a part of the timeless lesson of the rabbit and the hare; the time and effort are worth it in the long run, and will ensure ROI.

Watch the playback

Sales and marketing teams can improve game-time performance when there's a system for reviewing wins and losses. Create a standardized process for input that goes beyond sales liking or not liking a lead. When sales teams provide quality feedback, marketing can quickly make adjustments or changes in messaging or lead channels. Define your market with sales and marketing aligned and make sure that sales follows up with marketing on every lead, so they can provide feedback on where they win deals and adjust the game plan when needed. By creating a policy of open review, you'll improve the quality of your leads and lower the costs to acquire them.

Look beyond the victory lap

Once sales and marketing are aligned, the next step is to develop a playbook for ongoing success. Use a common interface so that sales and marketing teams can share information. Unify sales and marketing by clearly defining best practices that function as a standard playbook for all. Leverage automation to ensure consistency and repeatability. For example, use your CRM system to automate your best practices and sales workflow. Doing so can provide a common interface so that teams have access to the same information (e.g., lead channels and prospect behaviors), ensuring that there is the opportunity for feedback and a cohesive plan.

Finally, implement a regular team-meeting schedule, encouraging open communication and improving response times and flexibility when responding to trends. Ultimately, sales and marketing alignment comes down to each team understanding the other's role and working together to drive overall success. Your teams will be stronger and the results will show in your bottom-line scorecard.

Seamas Egan is corporate sales manager at Campaigner. Contact him at seamas.egan@j2.com.

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