August 25, 2020

Best practices for sales and marketing alignment

In many organizations, sales and marketing teams operate in silos, working independently of each other toward disparate goals. 

In order to maximize success, sales and marketing must work in tandem toward a common goal. After all, sales opportunities often begin in the marketing department. Marketing efforts ideally end in sales, or at the very least, in lead generation. They must speak the same language to carry those leads across the finish line. 

Why sales and marketing alignment is important

The buyer experience is critical to your organization’s success. A single negative interaction with your business can mean a premature end to the working relationship.

So, what makes a positive experience from the perspective of your customers? First, a salesperson should display a clear understanding of who the buyer is and what their needs are — whether through a live presentation or via content shared online. That means introducing content that is relevant to that buyer’s industry, product, customers and pain points.

Once the seller has demonstrated this knowledge, they’ve got to make their value proposition clear. In other words, they must be able to concisely communicate how your organization’s solution solves the buyer’s unique problems. This value proposition should be consistent from one interaction to the next.

Speaking of which, every interaction a buyer has with your company — whether with a salesperson or through digital channels — should also feel simple and streamlined. When they download a piece of content on your website, are they sent a follow-up email featuring other content related to that topic? When they attend a webinar, is a rep reaching out to learn more about them and what peaked their interest? The journey a lead takes must feel natural and reasonable in order to keep their attention as you move them through the funnel. 

All of these key elements of a positive buyer experience rely on a constructive relationship between marketing content and sales success. Put simply: alignment.

Sales and marketing alignment tips

To encourage these teams to leave behind their differences and come together for greater impact, keep these best practices in mind.

Restore collaboration

Getting sales and marketing on the same page starts with opportunities to work together and understand each other’s goals and motivations. Hold monthly meetings with both teams to discuss buyer reception of content, feedback and input for new marketing materials. Additionally, these meetings serve as an opportunity for reps and marketers to determine buyer personas and map out the customer journey. 

It also helps for marketing to get a firsthand account of sellers’ experiences with buyers and customers. Invite them to your weekly sales team meetings so they can listen in on objections salespeople are hearing, obstacles they are facing in the sales process, collateral topics that would be useful and other important information. 

Coordinate goals and KPIs

The chasm formed between sales and marketing teams often stems from having disparate goals. Marketing wants high engagement with content; sales wants to close deals as quickly as possible. But they boil down to the same ultimate objective: revenue generation and company-wide success. 

Together, set overlapping goals and KPIs, including but not limited to:

  • Content use
  • Buyer engagement with content
  • New sales opportunities/leads
  • Win rates
  • Contract renewals

Knowing that achieving these goals is a group effort will encourage more collaboration between reps on your sales and marketing teams. 

Establish a formal content creation process

Compelling and relevant case studies, product one-pagers, eBooks, guides and other content help to build your brand and support sales efforts in educating and converting leads.

But rather than developing ad-hoc, one-off pieces at individual sellers’ requests, having a strategy in place allows everyone to work ahead, not from behind, and ensures consistency in messaging across the board. 

Consider the various buyer personas that make up your pipeline and strategize different content topics and formats that address them all. Don’t assume every prospect is ready for a demo — create content that hits the top, middle and bottom of the funnel.   

As part of this strategy, devise a simple process for distributing content, both from the marketing team to sales reps, and from those reps to their buyers. Seamless distribution helps sellers find the content they need faster and more easily, and contributes to a better experience for potential customers.

Measure and adapt your process

Regularly analyze both qualitative and quantitative results from your overall alignment strategy. Sales should provide feedback on buyer needs and content engagement, while marketing reports on content performance (email opens, content downloads, webinar registrations, etc.). Take these measurements, along with the KPIs you established in the beginning, to understand whether processes are having the desired effect.

If you’re falling short of your benchmarks, you’ll need to adapt your strategy. Either the hand-off of content and collaboration between marketing and sales is lacking, the content is missing the mark or sellers don’t have a sufficient understanding of the content to relay it properly to buyers. Know that you likely won’t get it perfect right away; modify as needed and be patient. 

Sales enablement for better sales and marketing alignment

Sales enablement tools serve as a gateway between sales and marketing, and can support alignment success when implemented properly. Such platforms centralize content for more streamlined processes, ensuring salespeople get the most relevant, up-to-date materials to engage buyers. 

Showpad enables marketers to create, and sellers to deliver, compelling visual experiences that fit your brand. Create, update, share and evaluate content within one intuitive interface.

Elevated engagement and more productive sellers? It’s a win-win. Get in touch with Showpad today to see how we’re driving better buying experiences.

Ready to make selling easier?