If sales drop, put yourselves under a microscope to see if sales and marketing are aligned.
A slight misalignment is often a root of the issues.
When sales and marketing aren’t aligned, organizations miss growth opportunities. Yet when the two areas think, do and react as one unit they can drive growth up as much as 35%, according to research from SiriusDecisions.
Problem is, many organizations don’t recognize when sales managers and marketing aren’t aligned – and that relationships are ineffective and opportunities are missed.
Here are seven signs that sales and marketing aren’t aligned and how to get them in sync.
1) No one is accountable
Salesperson Jordan rips into Marketer Chris, “You don’t understand what’s going on. I have numbers to meet. You don’t give me the leads I need.” In response, Chris says, “You don’t act quickly enough on the quality leads I give you. You never follow up.”
It’s everyone else’s and no one in particular’s fault that sales are slumping. No one takes responsibility on a team that’s not aligned.
The best way to resolve this: Make sure marketing and sales are accountable to the same expectations. Whether it’s revenue, growth, service level, share of pocket, etc., put everyone on the same number.
2) No one speaks the same language
Jenny in Sales Development defines a lead as a prospect who’s met three of her qualification standards. Account Executive Hal defines a lead as a prospect who’ll agree to meet him.
Neither is wrong, but neither is using the same language and definition for an important part of their sales process. So if it’s happening in one instance, it likely happens during many times throughout the sales cycle. So sales and marketing aren’t treating prospects and customers the same way at any given time. Their contradictory actions become confusing to customers, and sales can be lost.
Both teams want to see the customer journey through the same lens, so they’re speaking the same language at the same time. Work with all sales areas to define your journey.
3) There’s perfect harmony
Salesperson Dwayne says the marketing team does an outstanding job. The marketing team stands behind how salespeople operate – even when sales look grim. They’re all in unison even as the ship is headed for disaster.
Getting along famously doesn’t equate to alignment. It often equates complacency.
Healthy conflict leads to better ideas that improve processes. Questions and counter ideas help teams clarify and gain perspective.
Encourage team members to push the envelope respectfully to drive growth.
4) They don’t meet
Sales gets together on Fridays when everyone is in the office or available to Skype. Marketing meets Mondays: That’s when it’s time to kick off new campaigns and tackle issues.
But no worries: They pass along what’s covered in their respective meetings.
Yah, right. That rarely – if ever – happens.
More likely, sales and marketing don’t sit together once a year, much less once a week.
Ideally, the two areas need to meet twice a month. The agenda needs to include what’s new, what’s gone well and what’s gone wrong. Celebrate the wins. Acknowledge the losses. Plan what’s next, so both sides have the same goals in sight.
5) They don’t trust each other
Salesperson James thinks marketing brings in bad leads or holds out on the good leads, passing them to the Golden Girl of Sales. Marketer Molly thinks James doesn’t work hard enough with what she gives him, casting off solid leads.
They don’t trust each other’s work, and they become inefficient because they spend more time trying to justify their actions – or lack of action.
Leaders want to help sales and marketing colleagues build trust by giving them opportunities to design their workflow, meet regularly to refine it and interact outside the confines of deadlines and extended goals.
6) They learn separately
The sales team has its annual meeting in Vegas, baby, Vegas. Sales and product training, teambuilding activities, motivational talks, meals, and events round out the week. The marketing team goes to an industry event in Orlando for product demos, instruction and award banquets.
They won’t just end up on different pages. They’ll end up writing different books.
Sales and marketing need to learn together – from bi-weekly meetings to annual conferences – so they start and stay aligned. The best sales and marketing leaders and teams create a cadence of learning, understanding, testing and celebrating.
7) They hurry up to slow down
Marketer Isaak stayed late three nights to pull together the analytics that the sales manager and top salesperson needed before proceeding with the client. Manager Susan and Salesperson Amanda got an appointment with a lead they’ve been chasing for six months. They have to go. Analytics can wait.
When processes are rushed or delayed (or rushed, then delayed), the teams are likely running in their own directions, which isn’t productive for either. In fact, it’s counterproductive: Companies that make sales and marketing alignment a priority have a 10% shorter sales cycle, according to research from Accent Technologies.
While every sales cycle can be different, and demands can shift, someone in a sales operation position can maintain a flow that allows steady movement rather than stalls and emergencies. Then sales and marketing pros can stay on their respective and aligned courses.