These frustrations are common in organizations that neglect to strategically align sales and marketing. While each department typically develops a strategic plan, they are rarely connected to one another. However, with leadership’s commitment and facilitation, cross-functional collaboration can produce impressive bottom-line results.
Effective alignment starts with a mutual understanding of buyers’ wants, needs, preferences, and motivators. This requires that sales and marketing management and their key staff members work closely together to share data, assumptions, success stories, failures, and challenges. Then, sales and marketing should jointly champion a market research initiative, ensuring it’s designed to fill the knowledge gaps critical to both departments’ success in driving revenue growth. A research expert can provide guidance on the best means of gathering the market intelligence, whether it’s identifying secondary data that already exists and/or conducting customized primary research, such as a quantitative study, focus groups, or in-depth interviews.
With current and complete market insights in hand, the cross-functional team will be properly armed to collaborate on closed-loop outreach programs, including defining the tactics, themes, messages and offers as well as the follow-up and closing strategies. The team should consider multi-layered programs that carefully integrate marketing and sales activities designed to indentify suspects, engage some of those into prospect relationships, and then convert some of those into customers. It’s also worthwhile to consider how sales and marketing can utilize the new market data to collaborate on individually customized, strategic pursuits of targeted accounts.
In addition to valid market intelligence, the success of such carefully structured outreach programs will be dependent upon clearly defined roles, tasks, and timing for sales and marketing individuals as well as ongoing collaboration, coordination, tracking, and improvement. It’s also important for the team to avoid biting off more than it can chew in terms of the number and complexity of programs, as that will lead to failure and drive people back to their silos. In fact, to enable transparent accountability and fully optimize the chances of success, organizations should utilize an automated tool for managing the execution, tracking, and measurement of these programs.
Though true strategic alignment of sales and marketing requires an investment of time and resources, it unquestionably pays off – right to the revenue line.