In your dreams, your marketing and sales teams are best friends. They often talk to each other about how their joint efforts are bringing your business lots of revenue. But those are your dreams. Reality is a bit different.
In reality, there’s little communication between marketing and sales. They don’t see eye-to-eye on goals and value. The sales team think marketing sit around all day, making content that has no impact on the company’s activity. The marketing team thinks sales are driven by nothing but profit, and will do anything - no matter how aggressive - to get it.
Maintaining these perceptions can cause your customer conversion rates to stagnate. But by encouraging marketing and sales to work more closely together, and unite in their goals of attracting and converting customers, your income will only go up. Here are our top tips for aligning your inbound marketing and sales teams.
1. Agree on terminology
We know that customers find jargon and technical language hard to understand. If they can’t comprehend how our services can help them, they won’t see any reason to buy them. For that reason, we know to avoid using jargon and technical language when promoting products or speaking to customers. But jargon is widely used in marketing and sales departments. Consider this for a second: how many words do your teams use on a daily basis that mean absolutely nothing to anyone who doesn’t work for your business? Words like ROI, sales pipeline and content marketing would have most non-marketers and -salespeople scratching their heads in confusion.
You could call this a double standard, but jargon comes in useful when everyone knows what it means. It can be quicker to say something in a couple of syllables than to express it in layman’s terms. An issue arises when a term has several meanings within your company. This is often the case for marketing and sales, especially when it comes to the l-word: leads. Leads are fundamental to both departments, but they often disagree on what counts as a lead and who should get involved at which stage in the buyer’s journey.
The easiest way of indicating who’s responsible for a lead is to apply two categories to it: marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs). Commonly, MQLs are leads that have indicated they’re interested in your products. This might be through an action like filling out a form on your website. SQLs are MQLs that marketing have handed over to sales, as they’ve signalled they’re getting closer to making a purchase. Whether you define your leads this way or not, it’s essential that marketing and sales teams agree on the definitions of the words they use.
2. Establish common goals
It’s easy to visualise marketing and sales as two sides constantly fighting and undermining each other. The negative feelings they have probably don’t stem from personal disagreements, but having seemingly opposing professional goals. It shouldn’t be like this.
Rivals become friends when they realise they have a common enemy. Marketing and sales will stop fighting each other when they discover they share the same goals. The most significant of these goals is generating revenue; something which marketers don’t always see how they’re responsible for. Many of them have been told to think of increased web traffic and high click rates as good results, but these aren’t the figures most executives are interested in.
Sales have an upper hand here. Over their careers, they’ve been trained to link their sales targets with how much money their company earns. If salespeople can show marketers the bigger, revenue-driven picture, and how the content they make contributes towards this, it’ll encourage them to create content which increases profit.
3. Unite in strategy
When the marketing and sales teams know what they have to achieve, the next step is for them to work out how’ll they’ll achieve it. Now, their first instincts may be to branch off, work on their own ideas separately, and expect them to fit together later. This approach risks them becoming divided over goals again. So get your teams to work on their strategy together.
It used to be that marketing’s sole concern was getting a prospect’s attention, and sales would do the rest of the nurturing. Not anymore. Now, marketers must produce content for all stages of the buyer’s journey, which sales can use to help leads at all points in the sales funnel.
This joint approach has advantages for for both sides. Sales gets to increase its communication with the marketing team, while marketers develop a better understanding of their buyer’s needs at all stages of the journey.
4. Use mutual technology
You know how some people feel that technology can tear us apart as much as it can bring us together? We’ll that’s true in today’s workplace. When several systems are being used under the same roof, relationships can shatter. If marketing uses software that sales hate, and vice versa, it’s going to put some distance between them. That’s why you need technology that’s easy for everyone to use.
Such software exists today, and in plenty of forms. HubSpot, for example, enables marketing and sales users to view the same dashboards, statistics and contacts information. Everyone can stay in the know about how leads are being nurtured and what content is performing best. All these metrics come in formats that are easy to read and share too, so neither side has to get bogged down by administering data.
The greatest advantage with technology like this is that it makes communication easier. When a marketer says one thing, a salesperson will instantly know what they’re talking about and where to find it in the system.
Get everyone together
When marketing and sales teams don’t cooperate with each other, you risk bringing your lead and revenue generation to a grinding halt and, eventually, a decline.
By encouraging these groups to work together and unite around common goals, they’ll be in a stronger position to help your customers get what they want. Your corporate culture will become friendlier and more inclusive, empowering marketing and sales to bond over what’s best for your prospects.
For more information about how inbound sales works, read our ultimate guide to inbound sales. This covers everything from creating accurate buyer personas to making the most of your outreach sequences.