Battle or Ballet: 6 Steps to Align Sales and Marketing

Posted on - Last Modified on

Marketing and sales are the driving force for the company’s revenue. Marketers build awareness, while the sales teams gain trust and loyalty. 

Once there is no connection between the two, and they work as separate entities, the efforts and results can be downgraded. 

When you have a smaller team, watercooler chats can help to adjust marketing activities and sales tactics to attract higher-quality leads and move the deals to closure faster. However, once you start growing, this is difficult to manage on-the-go. You need to have an aligned strategy, followed by direct communication, shared goals, and coordinated messages.

That is impossible to know your buyers, their behaviour, patterns, preferences, rejections without the joint work of both departments. This is a common situation when a sales team blames marketing for attracting low-quality leads, while the marketing people blame sales for not nurturing leads enough.

The truth is that marketing needs to know more about sales, sales need to know more about marketing, and they both need to know more about their CUSTOMERS.

Due to the research of Linkedin, USA businesses lose $1 trillion every year because of the misaligned sales and marketing activities.  

So, would you prefer to have a battle or ballet between marketing and sales in your organization? 

If you are still not convinced, here’s some stats shaping the results of aligned sales and marketing:

  • it leads to 32% yearly revenue growth (Aberdeen Group)
  • It retains 36% more customers
  • helps to achieve 38% higher win rate

Sounds fantastic, right? 

If you are on the right side at the moment, we are ready to share the steps on how to coordinate your sales and marketing activities. Let me walk you through!

Step One: Define Success. Together! 

Okay. You concluded that your sales and marketing departments need to join the forces. And that is right. How are you going to understand that your work is successful? You need to define common goals. They are the base of an effective sales and marketing alliance. 

Starting from the global business goals, break down the goals of every department needed to achieve them.

Focus on SMART goals and pick the North Star metrics for every month or quarter. Do not try to improve all the aspects of sales and marketing at once. Set up the priorities and work on them together during a certain time frame. For example, for the first month, you will need to shape a buyer persona, customer journey, and craft your brand messages. For the next quarter, you will work on the increase of sales qualified leads, following the rise of retention rate in the next quarter.

Keep in mind that, for obvious reasons, the marketing department is more focused on long-term goals (it’s challenging to gain brand recognition in a month), while salespeople need to meet their quotas. Get in a room together and find a middle ground to satisfy both. 

Step Two: Define Buyer Persona

Before shaping the acquisition strategy, you need to understand your buyers and the route they take before the conversion. You need to know the problems they are facing in their day-to-day activities and how your product can help to deal with that. The best way to get a detailed portfolio of a person who needs your product is to interview your existing customers, if you have ones, or outreach to potential users and talk to them. 

You may also have a look at your competitors; however, your interpretation of their messaging and audience may be wrong. Moreover, how do you know for sure that their activities are successful and they are targeting the right people? 

To have a targeted profile of the potential buyer, you need to run a series of Customer Development interviews. The answers to these questions will help you to shape a socio-demographic portrait of your buyer that can serve as targeting criteria for further ad campaigns.

To learn about the triggers that progress customers towards and away from our product, the best option is to conduct Jobs-to-be-done interviews. The goal of this interview is to gain a deep understanding of the job that customers do every day. You need to know their core functionality - what they are trying to accomplish while using a specific product, how many products they use, core outputs they need to get.

In the ideal world, JTBD interviews need to be conducted before your product is designed to build predictable software for the customers. However, the answers that you get, will help you to improve the current functionality of the product, plan the development of new features, and craft brand messaging addressing those pain points. 

After running the mix of Customer Development and Jobs-to-be-done interviews, you will have a detailed profile of your potential buyers.

Step Three: Define Customer Journey

A buyer journey is a way the buyers go through from the research and realizing the problem to the moment they use your solution. You need to understand this to choose activities at every stage of the funnel. How will you get acquainted users with your brand, attract, persuade them, and convert. 

Even though your funnel may differ, depending on the industry you operate in, business and pricing models, audience, it typically looks like these:

  1. Awareness Stage. The buyer recognizes the problem and finds a way to resolve it. The seller’s goal at this stage is to educate the buyer on their product and how it helps to deal with the issue they have. Here, the company demonstrates its expertise and experience. It can be achieved by utilizing social media channels and expert articles on trusted media outlets. Salespeople share their expertise or client use cases, while the marketing team comes up with the complete feature and pitches it to the media.
  2. Consideration Stage. The buyer is looking for the software or service to implement, evaluating the differences between the available options on the market. At this stage, sales and marketing can work on the review campaigns from the current users, create sales decks additional articles with case studies or product benefits.
  3. Purchase Stage. The stage buyer takes a final decision about the purchase. Most probably, they want to see the product inside. The sales team can offer a free consultation session, demonstrate product features, and provide a free trial for the prospect to set up the system according to their needs.    
  4. Post-Purchase Stage. After the purchase is made, the buyer will determine whether the product/service has met their expectations. Excellent after-purchase service will result in the repeat purchase, recommendations of the product to fellow businesses, and positive online reviews. The sales team needs to make sure they are helpful and fast in the replies regarding any questions and issues about the product as before the purchase. The marketing team needs to conduct the constant NPS surveys to prevent any churned clients.

Your sales activities and content need to be sculpted around the buyer journey. 

After you are done with the customer journey, you need to define the roles and responsibilities of both departments at every stage of the funnel. 

Step Four: Assign Roles

Walk through the customer journey and define the activity of both departments on every stage. Define the moment when you deliver leads into the hands of sales reps. 

Sales and marketing should communicate the same message, at different but intentional moments throughout the funnel. Each team member needs to know when it’s their responsibility to interact with the customer and be sure the message they send is timely and relevant.

Involve the sales team into content creation. This may sound strange to someone who isn’t used to cross-department cooperation. However, this is a must for those who want to speak a common language with their customers.

It’s a good practice for the marketing team to attend client demo calls along with sales reps. This is important to hear what clients are saying first-hand. Pay attention to the language they use and ‘talk this language’ in your promo materials. 

Set up weekly meetings to discuss the current status and analyze stats to make on-the-go changes. If sales dept notices the churn of the clients on a particular stage of the funnel, marketing can change messaging or create additional activities to push the prospect down the funnel. If the sales team can’t close the lead from the first cut, you need to develop a process of sending the lead back to marketing for warming them up again.

It’s a good practice to encourage marketing people to spend time in sales rep’s shoes and vice versa. It helps to understand how every department can contribute to the other and adjust their actions on every stage of the buyer journey.

Step Five: Implement Single Technology

It‘s crucial to track every interaction with the prospects, from their very first to their very last. Everyone involved in the buyer journey needs to have access to this information; everyone needs to work on the same page.  

CRM helps the marketing and sales team track every interaction with the customer. It contains all customer-related information, stores communication, visualizes how leads move down the funnel, defines best-performing acquisition channels that can be scaled, or the ones that you need to give up on.

If your team heavily uses GSuite applications in their daily work, you could opt for the Gmail integrated CRM, like NetHunt CRM. It allows you to access the information directly from your Gmail and create new records and opportunities in one click from the received emails. 

We’d like to emphasize here on the importance of using a centralized system for sales and marketing. This is way more effective to watch the lead at the beginning of its journey, lead it through the nurturing stage, pass it on to the sales rep, and see the deal won. Is it possible to send marketing emails via one system, and nurture leads after registration using a different one? Yes. Is it effective? Absolutely no! 

Utilize a single CRM system, send outreach campaigns, analyze how prospects are reacting on those emails, and create dedicated nurturing campaigns based on their behaviour patterns. The CRM system also helps to track the referrers of the leads that register on the website, define the best-performing ones, and adjust your marketing efforts accordingly. 

Final Step: Act! Track! Adjust!

And Repeat.

Once you aligned all the workflows, analyze how you are doing based on the goals that you set up at the very beginning. If, at the midpoint, you see that you are far away from the initial goals, brainstorm again on the messaging, pain points that you are transmitting, and activities on every stage. 

To stay in the loop of what is going on, we’d recommend building a real-time dashboard with the shared access to monitor the performance and goals attainment. You need to connect multiple data sources, including website analytics, social media stats, ad campaigns, etc., and CRM to see the full picture of the business, analyze dependencies, and see the bottlenecks. 

A single dashboard can show the dependencies that may be difficult to notice while looking at different systems. For example, connecting Google Analytics for traffic analysis and CRM for deals closed, you may see that you have most traffic coming from the USA but most of the deals are closed with the businesses from the UK. It can be a sign that the marketing team needs to re-focus its activities geographically. 

The single dashboard serves as a good base for making smart decisions backed by the data.  

Thankfully, there are lots of available data visualization tools on the market:

  1. Google Data Studio (our choice!) as it’s free and feature-extensive

  2. Klipfolio

  3. Tableau

These tools will highlight the moments where sales and marketing are not aligned enough and where the changes need to be applied.

Forward-thinking businesses will promote Smarketing approach to increase revenue, gain customer loyalty, and effectively grow the business in the long-run. Even though this is not a fast and straightforward process, it brings fruitful results. To sync up, sales and marketing teams need to develop a sharing culture to communicate wins and fails, discuss challenges and ways to overcome them. Together! 

!Pro Tip. To strengthen the ties between the departments - why not to share a drink or two on Friday eve?!

Good luck! 


Posted 17 August, 2020


Fan of sustainable and scalable marketing

For over six years, Anna has helped tech companies establish scalable, sustainable marketing techniques to drive user acquisition and enhance brand awareness. She is proud to be part of a team that organises an annual international adtech conference, drawing over 600 advertising experts and speakers who represent leading companies from all corners of the globe. As a purveyor of the art of florist...

Next Article

8 Real Estate Marketing Ideas to Get Your Leads