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At CHIEF, we believe in highly strategic, brilliantly creative and data-driven marketing that delivers results. For our corporate clients, an important result that they need to deliver is sales—and marketing supports this goal, whether through increasing awareness or moving customers through the pipeline. But getting the sales and marketing teams to work together can sometimes be a challenge. There are some strategies we’ve learned working with our clients that marketers should keep in mind when working with sales. Following these strategies to align marketing and sales will help you understand your customers better, improve lead generation and move customers through the sales funnel.

Create a Partnership

Improving the relationship and coordination between marketing and sales should start at the beginning of any project or strategic planning. Marketing should bring sales in early to ensure that you are working to support sales goals and have the sales team’s buy-in. Sales knows your customers, and can help marketing define audiences and how best to reach them. At the same time, marketing can provide insights into audiences that sales might not have—insights supported with data, that has been tested and refined. This cooperation won’t just yield a better product when you create marketing content or strategies, it will also begin to build relationships between the two teams and create a culture of collaboration.

This relationship-building also creates a foundation to involve marketing throughout the sales process, so that marketing is better informed and is helping move customers through every stage of the sales cycle. Marketing should join in on sales calls, account planning, and events and conferences. This will better inform marketing’s activities and messaging by yielding a better understanding of what content is needed to address customers at specific points and which messages are resonating with customers.

Finally, from the marketing team’s perspective, getting sales bought-in to your activities will help them feed you useful knowledge and resources for your activities. Sales has a wealth of knowledge but often lacks enough incentives or bandwidth to contribute to marketing’s work. By creating a partnership from the beginning where incentives are aligned and all parties understand how collaboration contributes to shared goals, you’ll be able to keep teams engaged when you need their insights later.  

Understand Your Team  

It’s important to understand the motivations and culture of the sales team just as you would your external audiences. For instance, they are of course focused on sales, and will evaluate any marketing activities by the costs (in time and effort) versus the benefits (lead generation and sales). For marketing activities that have a longer time to return on investment, like brand awareness campaigns, it’s important to clearly communicate and track the benefits while ensuring the costs aren’t prohibitive.

For example, understand the pain points and burdens placed on sales, and align your outreach—from meetings, asks and frequency of content—to ensure that you are meeting them at the right time and in the right way. This may mean leveraging existing touch points or opportunities to engage with sales, or relying on volunteers rather than the entire staff to contribute to a marketing request.  

It’s also important that marketing incorporates sales goals into its goals and key performance indicators, so both teams know that they are working towards the same purpose. And don’t forget to demonstrate outcomes to sales at every stage of the relationship.

Make an Impact

By working together, both marketing and sales can perform better. Examples of the benefits of this collaboration include:

Audience insights: Through surveys, focus groups, interviews and research, marketing can uncover powerful insights into what motivates and drives your customers, helping sales better understand their targets. And sales can provide marketing with personal, real-world insights into customers, how to move them through the sales cycle and what tactics and messages work.

Testing: With the ability to capture powerful data, marketing can quickly test, evaluate and refine messaging and tactics to get further insights into customer behavior and preferences. Testing can provide immediate, actionable insights for sales to adjust their pitches or tactics. And of course, sales is in the field, face-to-face with customers—testing content and strategies every day that can be applied to marketing.

Targeted communications: Understanding customer preferences and behavior can drive marketing that is highly targeted to specific customer segments or stages of the consumer journey. With digital or social advertising, marketing can target customer segments down to exact demographic, behavioral and location-based factors, finding the targets that sales prioritizes most. Sales can also help marketing identify the high-priority customers who are likely to convert.

Powerful content: With content informed by marketing research, input from sales and testing and validation, marketing can create content that is more likely to convert customers. Sales shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they engage with a customer, but with marketing’s support they can have content that speaks to each customer segment at the right point of the sales cycle. This content can help sales in traditional customer interactions as well as on new platforms—like helping sales reps become thought leaders on their social networks to bring in new prospects.

Consistent brand: By aligning strategies and sharing insights, marketing and sales will help create a cohesive, unified brand voice and experience for customers. This will ensure that as customers move through the sales cycle, engaging with marketing during awareness and lead generation and with sales during consideration and close, they have a clear understanding of your brand and are not confused by a disconnected experience.

#BeBrave  

When sales and marketing are better aligned, then working together won’t be a burden that takes the sales team away from making calls or chasing leads, or the marketing team away from managing campaigns, but will be a collaborative process that makes both teams better. So #BeBrave and forge stronger partnerships and ways of working together that will allow you to improve engagement with your customers and accelerate the sales cycle.

Are your sales and marketing teams working together well, or are there opportunities for improvement? Contact us and let us know!