What Marketing and Sales Alignment Really Looks Like – Practical Tips

Sales and marketing alignment is something I am really passionate about, especially as someone whose target audience is marketing and sales team. I can’t stand a bad sales outreach email, as evidenced by my most recent LinkedIn post.  If a salesperson ever says the words, ”batch and blast” or “mail merge”… run for the hills, people.

I have been fortunate to always have a very close working relationship with my sales teams. In fact, my sales team even writes blogs for us! I know, I’m spoiled. However, the process of aligning marketing and sales team will never be complete. It is something that needs to be refined with ever-changing strategies team members, or processes.

Here are some of the tips and tricks of things from my ten years working with sales teams that have been helpful in creating a really tight-knit sales and marketing team (yes, singular “team”).

Participate in Team Meetings

The frequency will depend team by team, as well as availability and location. Still do whatever you can to have a regularly scheduled time where the groups can collaborate. I prefer weekly meetings, even for just 15 minutes on a Monday morning.  If too much time passes between meetings, the items that were important a month ago are no longer important. Also – no one reads longs emails. It’s better to have a quick, ten-minute chat than a two-week long email exchange.

Join their meetings, host a stand-up meeting —  anything to get face-time.In these meetings listen to their pipeline reviews, ask for feedback, review recent wins and losses, and discuss new campaigns or process changes. This is your time to have their undivided attention and will be invaluable to your success as you rely on sales partnership to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Establish Accountability Based on Data

Often times, sales reps can be very territory focused and miss the bigger picture of how all of this is supposed to work. On a monthly or quarterly basis, I share basic metrics such as website traffic growth or campaign responses, but more importantly, I want to review “the funnel” with them.

The lead to revenue funnel as we call it is a way to share accountability for our piece of the puzzle.

If opportunities are down, we can look up farther in the funnel and see if it’s a result of either marketing not producing enough MQLs, or if we are blowing out our MQL number but they aren’t converting. The latter signals to me that there is either a broken process, an ineffective sales follow up, or the MQLs I’m passing over are not as good as we thought. By reviewing the funnel on a regular basis with the team, you can become more proactive in pivoting your strategy before it becomes a bigger issue.

Another note on metrics while I am on the subject – It’s one thing to report at the highest level but to really get individual reps attention, you need to look at your campaign coverage in THEIR territory. You might find that you are heavily covering the west coast and not getting traction on the east.

Talk About Your Campaigns

Anytime you launch a new campaign, whether an eBook or attending an event, sales should know all the details and understand how they can use that as a value-added touchpoint beyond just asking for a meeting. It’s important for sales to understand why we run certain campaigns. Also, if you are doing your job of nurturing contacts and tracking those engagements with your campaigns in your CRM, then sales will need to understand a prospects activity so they can personalize follow up.

Do the Heavy Lifting

I want sales to be selling. Which means research, highly personalized emails (not a mail merge!), demos etc. To create highly personalized and valuable emails, I want the team to leverage the content that marketing has developed. In an effort to make that easier, I create templates for everything in hopes that they can easily pop in an eBook summary into an email or take my customizable email template or call script, put it in their voice and further personalize. By doing this, I give the team more time back to sell, give my content more “legs” and I can maintain how any given asset is positioned. It’s a win, win, win situation.

Share Best Practices

Not only do I continue to hone my own craft, I like to understand my customers. The sales team is one of my customers. Because of this, I subscribe to a lot of sales blogs and newsletters. When I read something that is really resonating, I share it with the sales team. I am a big fan of the HubSpot Sales blog. HubSpot has a really great, marketing-friendly approach to sales. Which as a marketer, I am very appreciative of the “inbound selling” methodology.  

Ask for Feedback

Every chance I get, I am asking the team what’s working and what’s not.In addition, I want to know what are they are hearing from customers and what do they need from marketing so that they can do their job better and close more deals. With this knowledge, I can pivot my strategy to address the needs of sales to be more efficient sale people and be proactive in updating our content to answer challenges that may come up in the sales process.

Here’s an example of one challenge I ran into when I first started at ReachForce:  we were getting a lot of people requesting to purchase a list of contacts from us. Now, this was telling me that my website content was not adequately positioning our data management solutions. I would never have known that had I not been obsessively asking for feedback.

Celebrate the Wins

When sales wins, everyone wins. While sales may be the quarterback, marketing is the offensive line and we must work as a team to get that touchdown (sport references? who am I?). Everyone from development to sales has a hand in our ability to win deals. We have an email that goes out to the whole company when a new deal is closed. This creates a lot of visibility for the success of the company but also an opportunity to cheer each other on. Some deals close in a month while others are marathons with 6-12 month sales cycles. The length of the journey does not matter as does getting to the finish line, therefore  all wins should be celebrated.

At ReachForce we strive for marketing and sales excellence. Our technology helps ensure that no matter the campaigns you are running, your data is accurate and complete. With reliable data, Marketing and Sales are able to work more efficiently. One less thing we have to worry about.