Why can’t marketing and sales teams get along?
Sales teams are clueless as to what marketers do. They complain to marketers about how their leads suck.
Marketers want sales reps just to close the leads and do their job.
The concept of marketing and sales alignment sounds great in theory, but putting it into practice might seem abstract.
Marketing and sales alignment achieves better results. Everybody on the same page means hitting your business goals and a happier workplace. Sounds too good to be true?
We’re here to help you turn this concept into reality.
Follow along with our guide and steal our strategies to ensure marketing and sales teams work together.
15 ways marketing and sales can work together
- Establish OKRs
- Collaborate on buyer persona
- Create a service level agreement (SLA)
- Agree on Lead Terminology
- Define lead scoring together
- Agree on lead hand-offs process
- Conduct regular meetings
- Have your marketing and sales team sit next to each other
- Have the content team listen to recorded sales calls
- Offer a dedicated channel for feedback
- Ensure marketers provide sales enablement content to sales reps
- Integrate marketing with your CRM
- Send lost deals to marketing for retargeting
- Use Sales Enablement Tools
- Turn your live chat into a lead generation machine
Let’s explore the 15 ways you can get your teams working together towards the same goal.
1. Establish OKRs
OKRs are frameworks that help your company set, track and achieve its goals.
- O (Objective): A specific goal or outcome you want your company to achieve.
- KP (Key Result): targets or metrics that both teams need to meet to achieve their specific objective
Let’s say your objective is to hit a quarterly revenue goal of $500,000 in Q3 of this year, a 10% increase from last year’s Q3 revenue.
What are the key results that need to happen to achieve the objective? For example:
- Key result 1: Record $50,000 on launch week of a new product
- Key result 2: Close a recurring deal or upsell with 10% of the existing customer base
- Key result 3: Decrease the sales cycle from 30 days to 27 days
It’s vital to achieve alignment, especially among the leadership team. For example, as a CEO, your job is to be forward-thinking and set the direction for the company.
Your objective as a CEO might be to “become a top 3 in market share position.”
The key results may involve improving lead conversion rates and cutting lead times.
Thus, a cascading effect will trickle down to subsequent leadership positions such as your CMO and VP of Sales.
The CMO might be in charge of improving lead generation, while the VP of sales can be in charge of reducing lead times.
Here’s what the CMO OKRs could look like:
Objective: Increase lead generation conversion rates by 15% by the end of Q1.
- Key result 1: A/B test 3 campaigns across all channels by Feb 23, 2022
- Key result 2: Develop a new product leaflet by Q1 2022
- Key result 3: Onboard two strategic partners to market our products by Q1 2022
Notice that the CMO breaks down the main key result of increasing lead generation conversion rates into their primary objective. They’ll then build out KRs that help achieve that objective by developing new marketing campaigns, split testing, and other strategies.
Conversely, here’s what the VP of Sales OKRs would look like:
Objective: Present to 30 highly qualified leads and convert 10% into new customers
- Key result 1: Improve the close rate of sales calls by 20%
- Key result 2: Cold call 10 prospects a day per SDR until March 2022.
- Key result 3: Invest in B2B corporate level sales training for all 10 SDRs by Q2 2022.
The VP of Sales would take on converting sales and reducing lead times. That means their KRs may consist of improving their close rate for sales calls and investing in higher-level sales training.
To achieve better alignment, you need to start at the top. Each objective should be disseminated into key results. Those key results should be the main priority and passed on to subsequent leadership teams ranked lower in the company hierarchy.
2. Collaborate on buyer persona
A buyer’s persona is an imagined buyer that embodies all the characteristics you’re looking for in the perfect customer.
This persona will include a variety of important information such as:
- Demographic information
- Personal values
- Buying patterns
- Pain points and challenges
- Professional circumstances
- Online behavior
- Company size and revenue of the company
Traditionally, marketers were tasked with researching, creating, and developing buyer personas for the company.
However, if you only have marketers build the persona, imagine how biased the persona would turn out to be?
That’s because marketers can only view everything from their perspective. They can do in-depth research by hopping onto forums, online groups, or even performing surveys and interviews. But sales teams are in the trenches day-in and day-out talking to prospects.
How do buyer personas help marketers and sales reps?
Marketers use buyer persona to find higher quality leads.
By identifying the right demographics, they can filter their targeting to attract the right groups of people into their funnel. Also, by understanding their pain points, marketers can write persuasive copy that strikes a chord with their prospects.
Conversely, sales reps use a buyer persona to know how they can better connect with prospects. Salespeople dive into the weeds of their prospects by trying to understand their problems better.
Consider looking into their problems and even finding out their common complaints. Buyers typically purchase when you can connect the dots by positioning your product as the solution to their pain points.
How to collaborate on buyer persona
Both sales and marketing teams must take the time to sit down and collaborate on the company’s buyer persona. If your company sells to multiple industries and offers more than one product, you’ll need to create several buyer personas.
Here are ways to collaborate:
- Salespeople can review recorded sales calls and ask prospects about their pain points. Have them listen to common complaints, current frustrations, and desires. What is it that they truly want?
- Marketers can out feedback surveys to customers and users.
- Salespeople can also send personalized surveys or conduct short calls to existing customers they’ve sold to.
- Marketers can perform qualitative and quantitative research. It may involve looking at competitors, diving into forums, etc. The key is to find out what prospects are saying when they aren’t around a salesperson. For example, industry events could be helpful since people talk about their problems and goals.
Once the information is gathered, come back together and create the buyer persona. This doesn’t have to be done in one sitting. Consider revisiting the buyer persona once or twice a year or anytime adjustments need to be made due to a significant business pivot.
3. Create a service level agreement (SLA)
Having a written agreement on the deliverables needed is one of the most effective ways to maximize productivity for both teams.
Service level agreements establish each party’s deliverables within set timeframes.
Once you’ve established your goals and who the buyer is, both teams can draw up commitments. Here’s are some commitment ideas to get your brain churning:
Marketing’s commitment to sales:
- Sales teams will receive X number of marketing-qualified leads that meet agreed-upon criteria.
- MQLs are all leads who have displayed implicit, high-intent behaviors such as visiting the pricing page, booking an appointment, reaching out via email, and X amount of emails opened and clicked.
- Leads will be enriched using third-party data to supplement any missing information.
- Sales feedback on poor-quality leads will be acknowledged via a monthly feedback meeting.
Sale’s commitment to marketing:
- Leads will be contacted within a specific timeframe (e.g., within 8 hours of receiving them in the CRM).
- Pipeline stages will be updated immediately and automatically using a marketing automation tool.
- Notes will be recorded on each prospect for every interaction, such as emails, texts, demos, etc.
- Bad leads will be marked as unqualified.
- Leads that are not sales-ready will be marked as such and sent to lead nurturing campaigns using tagging through a CRM and marketing automation tool integration.
Come up with goals that each party will aim for. For example, marketing will provide X number of leads needed to help support the sales quota. Sales teams will aim to close X number of deals or achieve the specific revenue target.
What metrics are used to ensure you’re on track to achieve these goals? Marketing teams can track the average leads generated from each marketing channel or campaign. Sales teams can track their closing rate and the quality of closed customers.
Read more: The 3 Types of Sales and Marketing Analytics that Will Help You Grow
Agree on how leads are qualified. What makes a lead sales-ready? And how will sales notify the marketing team when leads need further nurturing?
How will leads be handed to the sales team? Using Encharge and Hubspot or Encharge and Salesforce, prospects on an email list can be automatically imported to HubSpot and assigned to certain sales reps. The process can be triggered when a prospect meets the lead qualification criteria.
What strategies will marketing and sales teams use to nurture leads? Marketers may send educational content, drip campaigns, and automated workflows.
Conversely, sales reps must also do their role in nurturing their leads. For example, salespeople can use sales enablement content to help address prospects’ concerns.
Sales reps should also consider social selling, where they directly interact with prospects on social platforms. Social selling has proven effective, whether it’s directly reaching out to prospects on social networks, sending them helpful articles, or commenting on their company updates.
- 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’ use social media.
- 39% of B2B professionals said they were able to reduce account and contact research time with social selling tools.
How are goals reported? There should be integration between marketing and sales tools so that both sides can view each other’s metrics. This allows teams to step in and help each other when needed. Sales and marketing team meetings should also address goal reporting and performance.
4. Agree on lead taxonomy
Marketing and sales teams live in different worlds and have different sets of priorities, so it stands to reason that each team will have a unique definition of what a qualified lead looks like.
The marketing team must understand that prospects should show buying intent so that salespeople don’t waste time chasing bad-fit leads.
Some leads downloaded your ebook, but does that mean they’re interested in buying? Leads need to be nurtured properly and show clear signs of buying intent.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
Marketing qualified leads are when a prospect takes action or shows interest based on marketing efforts such as registering for a webinar or downloading a piece of content.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Sales qualified leads show intent to purchase. Prospects may have “raised their hand” to be contacted by a sales rep or reached out to the company for further questions.
5. Define lead scoring together
Lead scoring is an automated system to rank prospects that represent each lead’s perceived value and sales readiness.
Generally, a lead score will range from 0 to 100, and a high score indicates the lead is a great fit for your product and ready to buy. Determining how to score leads requires both teams to clearly understand the buyer persona and what makes the perfect prospect.
Here are different ways to score leads:
Who are you selling to? Are you selling to digital agency owners or business executives from a specific industry?
It’s helpful to ask specific demographic questions in your lead capture forms, so you can segment the audience during your lead nurturing sequence. You can add points to prospects who fit your ideal demographic information and subtract points to leads who don’t fit your ideal demographic.
Is your product or services better suited for a particular company size, type, or industry? Asking these questions on your landing pages and lead capture forms is critical. This allows you to better serve your prospects by sending specific industry-related content that is more relevant to their needs.
HubSpot will ask for the prospect’s website URL, company name, and the number of employees. Marketers can use enrichment tools to help fill in additional company information once they collect the website URL.
How a lead interacts with your emails and website can tell you a lot about how interested they are in buying from you.
Consider which pages your prospects visited and how many offers did they download? For example, a prospect who visits pages like customer testimonials and pricing is more likely to purchase.
However, if a prospect stops opening your emails, they may have lost interest, and points should be taken away.
Both teams need to sit down and determine what specific criteria in each category are valuable and how many points should be attributed to each.
Then, the lead score needs to be shared across marketing and sales tools. Platforms like Encharge support automatic syncing of your lead score. Our integration with HubSpot will automatically send lead score data to HubSpot. That way you can score leads in Encharge using behavior in-app events, page visits, form submissions and more, and sync the lead score number to your CRM, so sales reps can work with that to qualify, segment and outreach qualified leads.
6. Agree on a lead hand-offs process
How will marketers assign leads into the sales pipeline? Defining how leads are handed off to reps ensures they know what to expect.
Lead distribution should be done automatically using a stack of tools to route leads directly to your sales team.
An effective lead distribution process should assign leads to salespeople daily to prevent complaints about certain reps getting “better quality leads.”
The best way to distribute leads is by round-robin style, meaning each prospect is assigned to the next person in line. However, specific lead assignment rules may be created. For example, if certain salespeople are specialized in certain product offerings or industries, you’ll want to send those particular leads to them.
Using a marketing automation platform like Encharge, you can automatically create deals for specific people and companies and assign them to specific sales reps. In the example below, a High Score Lead is assigned to a specific rep:
7. Conduct regular meetings
The best way to get your sales and marketing team working together is to have periodic meetings and establish grounds for communication.
- According to HubSpot, 31% of C-level executives feel that their sales and marketing teams are tightly aligned, but only 17% of managers and individual contributors feel the same way.
- 69% of the executives feel their marketing strategy is effective, and only 55% of individual contributors agree.
At each leadership level of both teams, individuals must feel like they are contributing and are a valuable piece to the entire customer journey. The best way to get everyone on the same page is to hold two types of meetings:
- A management “Smarketing meeting” designed for management to define and execute Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Additionally, the meeting can be used to play out content goals and how monthly or quarterly changes from the top and middle of the funnel activity will impact the sales team.
- A second meeting involves everyone on the team to hold a meeting to check in on progress and cover the nitty-gritty details of what’s going on weekly.
Here are things to cover in your meetings:
- Presentation of SLAs
- Performance discussion
- Content review
- Achievements and wins
Presentation of SLAs
Once your management team has drafted the SLAs, the meetings are the perfect place to explain this document and why it’s used. For example, you may set the framework by presenting the following items on your SLA:
- Shared goals and tasks
- Shared metrics
- Lead qualification
- Lead hand-offs
- Lead nurturing steps/customer journey
- The process of goal reporting
This allows everyone to gain crystal clarity on their objectives and how they can monitor their progress.
While everyone is working towards a shared revenue goal, many other metrics will be used to help each team better understand their performance.
For example, marketing can review metrics such as the % of closed leads to customers, the value of each lead, and how many Marketing Qualified Leads are generated and handed off to the sales team.
While specific performance discussions can be left to individual team meetings, both teams can benefit from a high-level overview of each team’s performance. Part of achieving tight alignment is ensuring that everyone knows what’s going on at all funnel stages.
Content strategy shouldn’t be left up to content strategists, SEO planners, or your marketing team alone. Your sales team should be involved, too. That’s because content should be used at all stages of the funnel.
Sales teams should be in the loop on what content is being put out there, so they know the type of content that their prospects have already seen. Not to mention, they should be heavily involved in the planning process of bottom-of-funnel content. That’s because sales teams know what concerns and questions their prospects have at that particular stage in the buying process. These meetings should focus on:
- An overview of the content planner for the week, month, or quarter
- Input from sales team on future sales enablement content such as infographics, webinars, industry reports, etc.
- How to use the sales enablement content, such as what situations would best suit the type of content
Achievements and wins
A great way to prevent resentment from either team is to celebrate each other’s wins. Highlight achievements from individuals from both teams. It doesn’t have to be metric-driven either. For example, a sales rep helped a marketer craft a better buyer persona for their ad campaign. Or a marketer who recommended specific sales enablement content that helped push a prospect to close a deal. Sharing wins together will undoubtedly promote a happy work environment.
It’s undeniable that employees that receive recognition are far more likely to work harder, feel more engaged, and feel more aligned with their organization’s goals. For example:
- 69% of employees work hard if their efforts are appreciated
- 58% of employees mention that employee recognition improves engagement
Trend spotlight or playbooks
Let your employees take ownership of strategy as well. It doesn’t always have to be your leaders coming up with marketing campaign ideas and sales tactics. Allow your team to explore new trends and strategies in the industry. When employees feel empowered to make their own decisions, they will produce better results.
For example, let marketers come up with content and ad ideas. Marketers can use the Facebook Ad library to search for ads their competitors are running.
Your sales reps should get creative as well. Perhaps, a sales rep wants to experiment with sending personalized video messages to prospects.
Sales reps can use value-based selling strategies by sending them personalized recordings. For example, let’s say they’re in touch with an exec from their ideal customer. They might send a video giving them tips and strategies using a Loom recorded video.
This tool even shows metrics such as the total views, how much of the video the prospect watched, and whether or not they completed the call to action.
8. Have your marketing and sales team sit next to each other
Marketing and sales teams shouldn’t be separated into two completely different rooms. Alignment happens by being integrated with each other’s day-to-day responsibilities.
Consider placing both teams right next to each other.
Marketers should be able to listen in on the verbiage that sales reps are using. Sales reps should be able to physically walk over to marketers and ask them questions about specific sales enablement content or receive advice on how to send a particular prospecting email.
Remember, the more collaboration, the better.
9. Have the content team listen to recorded sales calls
65% of businesses never do any customer research. And marketers who conduct audience research at least once per year are 303% more likely to achieve their goals.
A hallmark of good marketers is to listen to their audience. What better way to listen in than to listen to recorded sales calls?
Whether content, ads, or emails, every marketing piece should connect and resonate with potential customers.
For marketers to source the most valuable leads, they must have an ear to the ground and better understand what makes customers tick.
What is your customer looking to solve, and how can your product solve it?
Not only do record sales calls benefit sales reps for feedback, but marketers who need to source content.
While keyword research tools and market analytics might give you a snapshot of what your customers want, they might not tell you the full story. There’s nothing better than using words that come straight out of your customer’s mouth.
10. Offer a dedicated channel for feedback
Feedback should be a continuous aspect of marketing and sales teams. To encourage alignment, we suggest creating a separate channel to invite all marketing and sales team personnel.
Rather than a separate “sales” and “marketing” channel like this one, both teams also have a dedicated channel.
Use this channel to communicate and share feedback to help each team improve.
- Sales reps can recommend adding questions to the FAQ page based on prospects’ commonly asked questions or concerns.
- Marketers can provide feedback on certain verbiages they are hearing on the sales floor or announce when new content is available for sales reps to use.
The point is to create a dedicated slack channel so that sales and marketing teams can foster open communication amongst themselves.
11. Ensure marketers provide sales enablement content to sales reps
There’s nothing worse than a deal stalling because the prospect doesn’t have the confidence to move forward.
Sales enablement content could reduce the sales cycle and help prospects make buying decisions faster.
Unfortunately, 46% of companies still have sales teams create the sales content. Marketing teams are the experts in content creation and should be the ones to create them.
However, they should help sales reps by making the sales enablement content easy to access and applicable to specific scenarios to help handle objections while providing the information they need to decide.
“Based on SiriusDecision’s database, nearly half (46%) of companies have their sales enablement unit under the Sales umbrella, around 32% within Marketing, and 18% reporting to other corporate departments.”
Source: Sales Hacker
Marketing teams can help salespeople by providing these distinct content types:
Testimonials and proof
Prospects may not take your claims at face value. They often need evidence that your product can truly deliver on its promises.
Content pieces like case studies, customer testimonials, metrics, and even client interviews can give prospects confidence that your product can provide the results they’re looking for.
Encharge, for example, demonstrates case studies that demonstrate the results of customers. Landbot, in particular, saved 320 hours per month in their onboarding process by using our automation software. Seeing your product deliver real-world results adds credibility to your claims.
Salespeople need content to help them close the deal. Marketing teams can provide email templates, social media content, and presentations to help reps close deals quicker.
For example, a sales rep might not be familiar with crafting a compelling follow-up email that gets their prospects to engage and get the deal done. Overly pushy behavior can be off-putting and ruin the sale. Marketers can come up with various email templates to use in different situations.
Additionally, presentation pitch decks can also help guide sellers and organize talking points so that they convey your company’s unique selling points. Here’s an example of what Uber’s initial pitch deck might’ve looked like:
Internal sales support
Only about 16% of salespeople feel “extremely prepared” for their initial meeting with prospects, while 26% feel “not prepared at all.” Marketers can better prepare reps for the sales call by providing internal sales support content.
These include sales scripts, product sheets, and competitor comparisons. Product sheets clarify what the product does, its features and benefits, who it’s for, and the cost. The last thing you want is your reps fumbling around looking for answers while on the call.
Most prospects are aware of competitors and might already be in contact with them. It’s important to change the narrative in their minds and highlight why you’re the better option.
Create comparison sheets to prove that you’re the better option. Generally, a product table with features that your competitors lack compared to yours is the best way to visually communicate your product’s value.
12. Integrate marketing with your CRM
Imagine a sales rep trying to close a prospect without knowing much information about them?
An easy way to increase closing rates is to integrate marketing and sales tools so that information is cross-shared between platforms.
With Encharge, you can integrate your marketing automation with your CRM.
For example, let’s say you already use HubSpot as your company’s sales tool. Here’s an example of where the integration can be beneficial:
- When prospects are sales qualified, a contact on HubSpot will be created and assigned to a rep.
- Assign sales tasks in Hubspot and have reps follow up with particular leads.
- Enrich CRM data with information gathered from Encharge.
- Sales reps can view what content and product offer the prospect interacted with.
Here are some of the triggers and actions you can use to automate HubSpot activity through Encharge:
Apart from automating sales processes, Encharge automatically syncs contact and company data with HubSpot, that way, sales reps will always have the latest and most accurate data. It also syncs email marketing engagement to the activity feed of the contacts:
13. Send lost deals to marketing for retargeting
Not everyone will buy right away. Sometimes, your prospects aren’t ready to choose a vendor yet due to lack of budget and other reasons.
However, timing is everything. Often, appearing in front of your prospects first gives you a leg up. Many buyers choose the first vendor that contacts them.
That’s why having excellent follow-up and remarketing strategies is vital to recapturing previously lost opportunities.
We recommend connecting your marketing automation tool with your ad manager. For example, let’s say a prospect decided not to purchase due to bad timing. In that case, that lead can be added to a pool of other lost opportunities and sent to a Facebook Audience where they get remarketed to.
By integrating Encharge with Facebook Ads, you can automatically add leads to custom audiences.
14. Use sales enablement tools
Having the right mix of highly skilled salespeople, CRMs, engagement workflows, content libraries, and tools can help you improve conversions.
It’s best to use a centralized content library to house all sales enablement content, such as videos, articles, social media assets, presentations, infographics, product sheets, testimonials, etc.
Nowadays, sales enablement tools feature machine learning and AI systems to provide reps with content based on each scenario.
For example, High Spot is a sales enablement software that guides sellers throughout the selling process. Based on what you know about the prospect (demographics, company information, product interest, goals, problems, etc.), the software can provide you with the right sales content and recommend specific discovery questions.
15. Turn your live chat into a lead-generation machine
Chatbots are quickly becoming popular to enhance the buying experience.
While many businesses use chatbots to automate customer support, they can be used as a lead generation machine. With chatbots, you can qualify leads in seconds.
For example, RapidMiner is a B2B tech company that offers analytics solutions to organizations. Visitors who stumble on their website and enter the live chat or start the conversation on Facebook can easily be turned into qualified leads. In this case, the chatbot is asking questions to clarify who they’re speaking with.
Salesforce lets traffic visitors choose any of the following three options:
- Chat live with a sales expert
- Get help with a product I use
- Get help with my free trial
Typically, prospects who click on the chatbox already know what they’re looking for but may have a particular question in mind. In that case, prospects can chat directly with a sales expert. Marketers can help sales reps by sending highly engaged prospects directly from the chatbot to a sales expert.
Additionally, chatbots can also pop up based on a visitor’s behavior. Let’s say someone reads your client testimonials. Here’s a chatbot example you can use:
Integrate sales and marketing with Encharge
Gone are the days of marketing putting up billboard ads and leaving it up for sales reps to fend for themselves.
Today, sales and marketing have become more integrated than ever before. Marketers must be more ROI and sales-driven. And salespeople have to be open to value-based selling.
A seamless customer journey allows prospects to flow from one stage to the next.
Follow our tips here, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving the ‘all elusive’ marketing and sales alignment.
However, you’ll need a proven marketing automation software like Encharge to integrate sales and marketing information so that data is easily passed on between tools. Sign up for a free 14-day trial with Encharge and try our CRM integrations with HubSpot or Salesforce to get your marketing and sales team on the same page!
Read next: 10 Steps to Create a Sales and Marketing Business Plan [Templates included]