Anyone on a corporate marketing team can attest that alignment with the sales team can be challenging. For example, 48% of B2B marketers indicated sales and marketing alignment was a top priority for their organization’s lead generation efforts in 2017 according to The 2017 Demand Generation Benchmark Report.
Aligned B2B marketing and sales teams result in higher overall effectiveness for both teams and, most importantly, revenue growth. So how aligned is your marketing team with the sales team? Read on to learn three ways to align marketing and sales.
3 ways marketers can get in step with sales
1. Take a walk in the sales “community”
The other day as I was walking in my neighborhood (part of my effort to get in my daily Fitbit step goal) I realized I not only notice more details and know more neighbors, but I feel more a part of the community. In the same way, if you take the time and effort to walk among the sales department to casually chat with sales managers and team members on a regular basis, you’ll gain insights and understanding about their challenges and needs. You’ll start to feel more a part of and known in the “sales community”. You’ll learn ways marketing can better support and lead the sales effort. If you are remote from sales team members, then pick up the phone to chat, invite yourself to sales meetings, attend trade shows, or schedule time when you’re both in the office. Making the effort to connect can go a long way!
2. Walk a mile in their shoes
You know the saying,
Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
Until you’ve listened in on sales phone calls and traveled with sales reps to meet with customers and prospects, you won’t know what they face every day such as:
- Typical prospect questions and concerns about the product or service
- Typical prospect objections
- What tools and content they use with the prospect (you may be amazed at the non-marketing generated flyers and slides!)
- How prospects perceive competitors and how sales deals with the comparisons
- What sales focuses on and needs at different stages in the sales cycle or buyer’s journey
- How they get measured and what their goals are
Plus you get to hear firsthand questions and comments from prospects and customers which will improve your ability to convey your company’s value proposition and inform your persona development. Learn more about B2B buyer personas by reading 6 Easy Ways to Research and Develop Personas.
3. Follow in their footsteps
Walk down the hall or pick up the phone to discuss and debrief with sales team members after wins and losses to understand why — what worked or what was needed to have won the sale. Some companies do this in a formalized manner after large wins/losses, so you can just plug into that. But if not, and for insight into smaller wins and losses, it’s valuable to have formal and informal discussions on a regular basis. Ask questions to understand what the main selling driver was for the customer, why they chose your solution, what marketing tools were most effective or missing, and why you won against or lost to the competitor (This is the first of 8 inexpensive ways you can gather competitive intelligence.). Reviewing sales information in the CRM provides valuable insights, but talking to individual sales people will give you a more in-depth understanding and let them know marketing is walking with them.
Become the trusted guide and trail blazer
Using these 3 ways to get in step with sales will help spur you along the path towards marketing and sales alignment. Building a strong relationship step by step with the sales team builds trust. Trust that you can leverage to guide sales down new paths to fruitful opportunities, whether it’s a new vertical market, a new customer retention strategy, a new sales enablement tool, or shared revenue goals.
Susan Mitchell is a freelance B2B marketing consultant to domestic and international firms providing strategic plans, content marketing, sales enablement tools, and lead generation as an extension of your B2B marketing team or to fill resource and capability gaps.