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By Kristy Sturgill • February 9, 2018

Marketing vs. Sales: 7 Systems to Create Alignment and Consistency.


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Is the marketing team from Mars and sales from Venus? Probably. But, it doesn’t mean you can’t foster an environment of collaboration between groups in your company who have very different ways of working and reaching goals. Marketing and sales alignment is imperative for business success. So, let’s toss out the tension between these two teams, and find ways to improve alignment.

The most common factors throwing your teams out of sync are fast growth, limited data or lack of communication.

Alignment is essential for one crucial reason; the buyer has more information about a product or service than they ever had in the past. Now, the marketing team often has to think like a salesperson while crafting website content, and the sales team has to actl like a marketer by researching and understanding the company’s buyer persona.

Without alignment, you’re leaving money on the table. International Data Corporation found companies with poor industry alignment could cost companies 10 percent of their revenue. What does 10 percent mean to your company this quarter?

There are tools and systems you can implement to ease the discord between these two teams and finally bring alignment to your company.

Remember, though, the key for these strategies to work is the right attitude. Despite all the tools and systems, at the end of the day it’s people who have to use the tools.

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1. Commitment to creating Buyer Personas.

A basic system your company needs to adopt for better alignment is the creation and refinement of buyer personas. Both the sales and marketing teams should know the customer, and you could discover surprising discrepancies if you don’t write down facts about the buyer and their needs.

For example, the marketing team could be creating content for a type of buyer who isn’t the company’s primary target. They may be gathering hundreds of new leads, but they are not productive leads because it isn’t who the sales team is targeting.

For alignment between your sales and marketing team, they first have to agree on who is the customer. It might seem obvious, but without input from both groups, each one might be operating with inaccurate assumptions.

A buyer persona details more than just your typical demographics. It outlines their questions, concerns, buying journey, reasons they would walk away from the sell and what they’d lose if they didn’t choose to use your company. A buyer persona will also include a photo and a name. Everyone in the company should know this fictional character who represents a bigger market segment.

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2. Goal setting systems: leads vs. sales.

Ask your marketing team to define what makes a good lead for your business. Ask the same question to the sales team, and you’ll likely have different answers. Document the answers, and then get everyone into a room to discuss what makes a lead worth pursuing.

Is someone who downloads a white paper a bigger lead than someone who inquires about your products or services at a tradeshow? What are the most common questions asked by you target audience? How long does it take the average lead to complete the buyer's journey?

Start the conversation, and don’t stop until everyone is in agreement on what goals matter and how to measure them. Misalignment usually begins with teams having different objectives or at least different ways of measuring success.

Data is your friend. It helps your sales and marketing team approach creating their goals with more facts than feelings.  Marketing teams are often more interested in leads and conversion, and sales teams measure how many services or products they sell. Both of these functions are working toward one goal: Growth.

Individual and department goals are practical, but it’s more important to emphasize how both teams are contributing to the bigger picture.

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3. Alignment within management systems.

Leaders in the company have to subscribe to alignment before they can sell new processes and systems to their employees. Aligned managers will demonstrate exceptional communication within in the company and they will create goals requiring collaboration between departments. They’ll also provide funding so the teams can invest in the right software and tools.

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4. Speak the same language and communicate often.

The marketing and sales team might refer to the same processes with a different word. When you meet to define what a good lead is, you should also take some time to define other essential terms in the industry or within the company. Take some time to create a dictionary for all the employees. It’ll be especially helpful to new hires.

How often does your team meet? How often do departments meet together? The answer to these questions varies wildly from company to company, but the best system is one that is consistent.

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5. Employ the right tools and technology.

 There are numerous tools designed to improve communication between sales and marketing teams. Our favorite is Hubspot’s CRM, and the best part is it’s free software if you’re just getting started. There are other options too.

There are even more communication tools that can improve alignment by helping the team easily chat with one another regardless of their location or department.

Our team uses Slack to stay in touch. We also use Asana to manage tasks between members, and of course, both marketing and sales team members have access to all the same data through Hubspot. There is a seemingly endless list of tools, and you can check out this comprehensive list if your still looking for options.

The main objective of incorporating any new tool is to improve your processes, so make sure you choose what works best for your company.

Is your team in alignment? Download our free guide that’ll help you evaluate and create alignment between your sales and marketing departments.

The #1 Secret to Aligning Your Sales and Marketing Teams