Despite its vital importance, so many companies struggle to get their marketing and sales teams working well together. Here, we outline how to overcome this challenge and get everyone working towards a common goal.
We all know sales depends on marketing more than any other department – now, more than ever.
So, why is it that the two teams view each other with animosity and suspicion at so many companies?
Throughout my career, I’ve seen marketers work tirelessly creating spreadsheets filled with hundreds of leads for the sales team, only to complain when no one follows up with any of them.
Meanwhile, it seems like many salespeople don’t understand what the marketing team actually does. They ignore the thought leadership insights you generate for them, instead preferring to do things ‘their way’. But they’ll still happily blame the marketing team when they fail to hit their targets.
Where’s the updated sales collateral they asked for? Why haven’t these product one-sheets been updated yet? And would it kill you to get some new case studies up on the website?
Too often, it seems like the two teams are pulling in opposite directions. They have conflicting goals. They don’t cooperate. And they exist in completely separate silos.
So, today we’ll look at how you can break down the barriers between marketing and sales – and unleash the full potential of your content marketing strategy in the process.
The closer you can connect your content and sales strategies, the faster your business will be able to grow.
AudienceBloom CEO Jayson DeMers
Ensuring these two departments are properly integrated is vital if you want to succeed in the world of B2B solution selling.
Customers today are buying with greater care than ever before, preferring to do their own research before contacting a sales rep. As a result, traditional sales techniques no longer work the way they used to.
Because they must wait until far later in the sales process to contact prospects, salespeople depend on marketing more than ever.
It’s up to us marketers to warm up their leads, earn prospects’ trust and ensure our brand is front-of-mind when sales finally gets in touch. What’s more, sales relies on us to do a good job of qualifying leads to ensure the people they contact are ready to hear from them.
But for all this to work, both teams must be properly aligned. Guiding prospects through the sales funnel is a delicate process that requires tact and cooperation. If everyone isn’t pushing in the same direction, the gears will stop turning and the whole machine will grind to a halt. Both teams will still be burning through time and resources, but without generating the results you need from them.
That’s why it’s so important to destroy the silos separating marketing and sales within your business – and get both teams working together towards a common goal.
Proving the value of content in marketing
As marketers, we know that to compete in B2B you need to get clients to think differently about the way they do business. You need to get them to value the unique challenges that only you can help them solve.
This one insight explains the explosion in B2B content we’ve seen in recent years, and the results speak for themselves. Content marketing ROI is three times that of paid search, according to a recent survey from marketing platforms Kapost and Eloqua.
“Your sales and content teams can provide each other with a constant, steady stream of information,” says AudienceBloom CEO Jayson DeMers. “The closer you can connect your content and sales strategies, the faster your business will be able to grow.”
But you can’t just rollout a content marketing campaign and expect it to work without support from across your organisation. For initiatives like these to succeed, you must first help your sales team understand what it is you’re trying to do and why.
Proving that you can deliver results on a small scale will help you get buy-in for larger marketing initiates.
Attempting to teach disengaged staff about the value of marketing can be like talking to a brick wall. But once you’ve secured buy-in for your overall strategy, they’ll be far more receptive to trying things your way.
You need to have some quick wins and show that you can add value to what they’re trying to do. Think of sales like a prospect that you’re warming up when trying to demonstrate the value of what you have to offer.
Proving that you can deliver results on a small scale will help you get buy-in for larger marketing initiates. Arm yourself with data about which pieces of content prospects engage with, run mini campaigns to generate fast results and create relevant content reps can use in their sales conversations.
At the same time, you shouldn’t be creating content in the dark. The sales team is on the front line, talking to clients every single day. Use their experiences to get the insights you need to create relevant and timely content that provides customers with valuable insights.
This will help your sales team feel empowered to use the insights from your content campaigns and transform their sales conversations into valuable consultations your clients would happily pay for.
Some of this might seem like basic stuff. But so many companies struggle because their sales teams simply don’t believe in or understand their marketing strategy.
That’s why it’s so important to involve sales in every major decision the marketing team makes. This may take longer than if you went away and decided everything without sales present, but the rewards of working this way are huge. With an engaged sales team behind you, the results your marketing campaigns generate will add significantly more to your company’s bottom line.
Sales must be involved at every stage
As with any unhappy relationship, poor communication is almost always the cause of dysfunction between your marketing and sales teams.
When the two departments set their goals separately, they’ll inevitably end up with different and competing priorities. To make sure this doesn’t happen, both teams must work together from the outset to align their strategies.
If your sales team isn’t following up on the leads you hand them, that’s almost certainly because they don’t feel those leads are qualified well enough. You may be hitting your monthly lead gen targets, but it will all be for nothing if those leads don’t represent real opportunities in the eyes of your sales team.
In practice, that means sitting down together to define exactly what counts as a marketing qualified lead. How many pieces of content must they engage with? How many reports must they download? What if they requested a demo of your product?
This is essential for securing sales buy-in for your marketing activities. So, take the time to arrive at a definition you can all agree on.
Once you’ve defined what counts as a lead, establish a clear process for what sales must do when they’re passed a marketing qualified lead. If your reps are satisfied with the quality of the opportunities you’re generating them, they’ll happily do everything in their power to close the deal. When a deal falls through, that lead should be passed back to marketing to nurture.
Finally, you need to create a system that’s transparent. Both departments should be able to see that everyone’s sticking to their side of the deal. Arrange regular catch-up meetings, ensure the sales team is briefed ahead of every new marketing initiative and track your leads through your CRM system.
All this will help to build a sense of collaboration between the two teams – and as marketing department starts to deliver results, it will earn the sales team’s trust.
As marketers, the onus is on us to involve sales at every stage of the process. We must agree common goals, establish operational transparency and show sales that we deliver results.
When we can do all of this, our organisations will finally start reaping the huge rewards a well-designed content strategy can deliver.
- Get sales involved early when designing your marketing strategy. Agree common goals and make decisions together to secure internal buy-in for your campaigns.
- Create a transparent process everyone can follow. Establish a process for converting qualified leads, track every lead you generate and show sales that your campaigns generate results.
- Empower your sales team with content. Once sales and marketing are aligned, your company’s reps will be far more open to using thought leadership and content insights as part of their selling process.