Gone are the days of the “ABC – always be closing” approach to sales and using cold call “spray and pray” techniques to find new prospects.
Today, sales is part of the wider marketing mix.
The reason for this change is because consumer habits have evolved, and the old sales techniques no longer work. Now, much of the purchase process is happening online, as:
- 92% of buyers start with an information search,
- 53% of buyers find that going online and researching is superior to interacting with a salesperson,
- 75% of buyers depend on social networks to learn about choosing the right vendor,
- 90% of buyers won’t take a cold call.
In SaaS, the numbers are even more telling, with the average buyer not contacting (or wishing to be contacted by) vendors until they’re 57% through the sales process – which is set to rise to 80% by 2020.
Another reason is that the “funnel”, which represents the sales and marketing processes within a business, has also changed.
Due to the introduction of sales automation tools and marketing software, you’re now able to collect a wide range of data on prospects – making the whole process more data-driven.
So, rather than a sales-driven funnel as it used to be, it’s now more of a marketing-driven funnel.
Sales and marketing teams should go hand in hand as one department in order to attract, inform and retain customers. Aligning these two departments into a single “Smarketing” department plays a crucial role in the future of your business success.
How to align sales and marketing in your business
To help you on the path of aligning sales and marketing teams within your organization, we’ve outlined 8 steps you can take in order to improve the way that your company talks to, informs and deals with customers.
1. Create a single customer journey
When it comes to getting everybody in your sales and marketing department onto the same page, the best place to begin is by restructuring the entire customer journey.
There should no longer be separate silo’ed experiences for your prospects. Instead, you should aim for one single brand customer experience.
Starting from the awareness stage at the top of the customer journey’s funnel, right down through to the brand loyalty stage – everything should be tied together as an experience. Such connectivity will allow you and your team to track a prospect across the entire funnel.
The top business challenge for companies that try to create a single customer experience is getting a holistic view of the customer.
And this is where technology comes in.
The most effective technology used by companies with high sales and marketing alignment is CRM, followed by email marketing, analytics, and marketing automation.
CRM software provides you with a 360-degree view of a customer, and having that single view enables teams to act quickly and decisively to deliver more value to prospects at every stage of their journey.
Putting the right systems and technologies in place will help you draw the bridge between the marketing data being gathered about a prospect and their transformation into leads and sales opportunities.
2. Agree on a customer persona
When it comes to sales and marketing, knowing who you want to sell your product or service to is critical. Not clarifying who the ideal customer is can often lead to ineffective strategies and a disconnect between your teams.
Sales may think that they want to go after anyone with money, whereas marketing might have a more targeted and systematic approach to their ideal customer.
To get everyone on the same page and be more effective as a joint team, you need to help sales and marketing agree on a customer profile – by creating an ideal customer persona document together.
This document will help you understand the type of customer you should be doing business with, based on factors such as company size, experience and industry.
Collaboration between sales and marketing will help you understand who your ideal customers are, what they are looking for and what their biggest challenges are.
If you don’t understand their challenges, then you will fail to understand their needs – and this is one of the most common reasons why companies fail to onboard and acquire potential customers.
The ideal customer persona should be a living, breathing document that is shared and talked about by both the sales and marketing teams. To create it, you can simply use a tool like Google Docs or SuperOffice Project.
This way, you can have a live and always up-to-date version readily available for the whole team to access whenever they need it.
3. Use a “marketing first” approach
When your sales and marketing are misaligned, everyone plays their own tune: marketing will create a campaign targeting one group of customers, whereas the sales team will cold call or email (providing they have a legitimate interest) a different group of customers.
Prospects are less likely to respond positively to cold calls or sales emails, if they’ve never heard of you, and this can negatively impact your reputation and your chances of closing the deal later on.
What successful sales and marketing teams do differently is that they take a “marketing first” approach. This means that marketers find (or target) potential customers who have a specific problem and show them how it can be solved.
It starts with marketing who warm up and nurture new leads by sharing information on the product and selling the features and the benefits.
Then, when the lead is fully informed and ready to make a decision, the sales team can step in to reinforce what the marketing team have said and close the deal.
4. Track joint KPIs
One of the biggest challenges in aligning sales and marketing teams is that both teams are measured differently.
Sales teams are usually measured on numbers – be it new accounts, deals closed or contract renewals. Meanwhile, marketing teams are measured by lead quantity, quality and brand awareness. Is it any wonder that the teams are not aligned?
When it comes to getting your sales and marketing departments in sync, the one thing you should consider is measuring joint key performance indicators (KPIs).
By doing this, your team is uniting under one common goal.
If your sales and marketing teams have joint KPIs, you get a great chance to see the synergy behind their work and analyze how your business is doing in both sales and marketing. Also, you will be able to detect the weak areas in your customer acquisition funnel, and fix not just parts of it, but the entire funnel.
Make sure you schedule frequent meetings between marketing and sales, during which the marketers and salespeople can actively collaborate and agree on shared metrics to measure their performance – ideally, revenue growth.
5. Use customer feedback
One of the most powerful things that you can do after you align both your sales and marketing teams together is to look at the feedback you get directly from your customer – also known as Voice of Customer (VOC) data.
The best time to gather VOC feedback is during sales calls, which are a perfect opportunity for sales reps to discover potential customers’ pain points and motivations to purchase your products or services.
You can then use these insights to pick out specific phrases to create new marketing messages, as well as refine your product or service offering. At the same time, you can use this information to get a better understanding of what your customers really like about your product.
At SuperOffice, our sales teams surveyed more than 800 prospects to find out what they wanted to achieve with CRM software. The overall response was to “increase sales and improve customer loyalty”.
Based on this feedback, we updated the copy on our home page to say just that: “Increase sales, improve customer loyalty”. As a result, the number of free trial sign up requests has doubled!