It sounds like a given that alignment between sales and marketing would be automatic, but nothing could be further from the truth for many software vendors. Marketing often works in a silo to generate leads that are then passed on to sales for follow-up; however, without the buy-in of your sales team from the start, those leads are often left to collect dust and end up going cold.
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Reason #1: Alignment means commitment
When sales and marketing sit down together to determine what is needed and why when it comes to generating leads, it is essential to get a firm commitment from both parties to explicitly define expectations. What is your definition of a lead? What is the workflow that will be followed once a lead is passed onto sales for follow-up? How will leads be reported? When will sales provide updates on feedback? By sitting down together to map out who will do what, when, why and how, and what the consequences are if the plan is not followed, you get a firm commitment from all internal stakeholders so that your program starts out on the right foot. It is essential that your team collaborate together so that everyone buys into it. It only takes one person who is not sure or not motivated to achieve the outcome to bring the whole system down. By discussing worries and fears to find workarounds before you start any new campaign, you will address potential issues before they become big problems.
Reason #2: Alignment equals teamwork
People always feel good about what they have helped to create. By initiating collaboration between sales and marketing to design campaigns that serve the organization’s greater purpose, you will naturally cultivate a culture of teamwork. Working in a silo to hit a quarterly objective is a very narrow viewpoint that often leads to tension between sales and marketing. It’s like the analogy of not seeing the forest for the trees. Finding ways to work hand in hand will help your sales team see the value behind such marketing efforts and will foster even more comfortable exchanges in the future.
Reason #3: Alignment leads to quality results
The biggest criticism that sales teams have of any lead generation campaign is that the quality of the leads passed over by marketing are poor. When that happens, this creates a vicious cycle of resentment on both sides of the table. Sales reps resent having to “waste their time” following up leads that provide no value to them and end up going nowhere, while marketing resents the sales reps who don’t appreciate the work they put into generating a pipeline for them to nurture. When sales and marketing sit down to define the required lead criteria that need to be present and elaborate the definition of a lead together, the results will exponentially improve. The worst scenario for a marketer is when leads are passed on to sales for follow-up and then no feedback is given whatsoever back to marketing. By collaborating together to ensure that the leads delivered match the expectation of the sales rep and giving feedback on those opportunities quickly, marketing can continually improve the quality of the leads over time. This will then create a positive cycle where sales is happy with the leads provided, and marketing feels good about finding creative new ways to deliver them.
Let’s be clear. Alignment does not mean agreement. Alignment means that both parties have worked together to determine a plan that both are happy with, and are committed to achieving. Scheduling regular calls to touch base to determine what’s working and what’s not will help ensure that your plan is agile and can easily adjust to speed bumps along the way. Creating rapport is an essential part of alignment and that can only happen when marketing has a firm commitment to serving the sales team. The sales team in turn will see marketing as an asset, and a helping hand, instead of as a burden. So, by aligning sales and marketing before kicking off any new campaign, you will guarantee the success of your program.