Sales and Marketing are Converging

The market is moving far too fast for there to be a gap between sales and marketing. Successful teams are managing to integrate these two teams into a cohesive unit to maximize their advantage.


 Sales and marketing alignment is becoming a major source of competitive advantage. 

In a world dominated by winner-take-all environments, there’s no question about the need for businesses to be firing on all cylinders. Business growth strategies are increasingly turning to holistic methods to do this, which demand that sales and marketing function in closer proximity, and with greater coordination. While there are tremendous synergies to be had from a tight partnership, achieving coordination can be challenging for many teams. Sales and marketing have very different approaches to the world and getting them in alignment can often be unexpectedly challenging. Increasingly, concepts such as account based everything is working to create a combined playbook from which both teams can operate. This article looks at some fundamental areas that both teams can focus on to develop tight coordination.

Traditionally marketing and sales have each controlled their channels for reaching the customer. This division allowed the two departments to stay siloed and operate without communicating; sending out their campaigns via email and other channels individually with different messaging and focuses. What if, instead of viewing it as who get’s what channel, we broke it down so that marketing owned the channels, and sales owns the relationships? Redefining the relationship forces an integrated approach to reach the customer that is lacking in earlier organizations.

Positioned like this, either sales or marketing can identify leads for targeting. From there, a coordinated sales process can begin, where marketing engages the lead in the salesperson’s name. Acting in this way frees salespeople up to target more leads and focus on the most value-added interactions without getting bogged down. Instead, marketing can use its greater scalability to handle the standardized interactions that make up the upper end of the sales funnel. Even with the greater fragmentation that most industries are experiencing in their sales funnels, these rules still provide a new and more efficient playbook for business growth teams.

Content Distribution

People in the buying process are hungry for content. Being already engaged with networks of prospective buyers, salespeople are in an excellent place to get content to the right people. The best salespeople are already doing this, but content creation and distribution traditionally is seen as a marketing function. While farther ranging channels are still places that your marketing teams content should be appearing, organizations are missing out on a particularly important audience for their content by not using salespeople to distribute it directly to prospects who are engaged in the buying process.

Once again, in this example, the marketing team owns the assets being used to engage customers, while relying on the relationships that salespeople develop with prospective buyers to help that content find the right audience. A common issue for salespeople is finding the time to deliver content to customers. For most salespeople, this kind of activity is nice to have but is far down their list of priorities. Tight coordination with the marketing team can again be the answer to this challenge. Using tools like Hootsuite, or Buffer, content can be pushed directly to the social media profiles of the sales team without their needing to spend time sourcing and creating content. The reminder of this article will look at three areas of coordination that we’ve found to be particularly valuable at PipelineDeals.

Webinars

For many companies, webinars are becoming an important part of the sales development process. Managing and following up on these webinars is, in many cases, is a process requiring participation from both sales and marketing, from driving attendance to following up with the registrants after the event. Webinars are a great example of an event that requires marketing/sales alignment because, without close coordination, these events are prone to either failing outright or not delivering results because of poor follow up.

Managing these sort of live events requires commitment from both ends. Without that, nothing moves forward. The delicate part is where in the process the handoff occurs. Ideally, marketing owns the channel and sales owns the relationship. In some companies, this ideally means that sales delivers the actual webinar and then takes charge of the follow-up. In other cases, this might not be possible. In situations like this, its makes sense to start transitioning the handoff during the webinar so that registrants understand that the person who will be guiding their personal buying journey will be different from the person talking during the presentation.

Developing a Sales Process

Both webinars and content distribution are great examples of tactical points of collaboration between marketing and sales. To look at a more strategic example of sales/marketing alignment, consider sales process mapping. Both teams need to have a stake in the process to make sure that their efforts make the greatest possible impact. Building this process together provides a great foundation for aligning other activities between the teams by making sure the end goal is the same for both teams. Individual team goals are about helping fulfill the greater need for growth.

These are three examples of how touch points between marketing and sales. There are many more. The old method of each team carving out its domain from the company and guarding it against rivals is over, or, at least, should be. Companies need to find ways to pull these two teams together, in the face of fast and aggressive competitors, to utilize their different talents and perspectives as one organism. Companies that can do that will continue to prevail successfully against competition with outdated organizational structures. In the digital economy, run fast, sell hard, or go the way of the dinosaurs.

 See how Cornerstone got sales and marketing in alignment.