Sofi Dahlqvist, owner of full-service marketing agency 55 Connect, explains how to align sales and marketing for the best returns and faster business growth.
Sales and marketing are two very distinct specialities; both have differing short-term goals and there’s often friction between the two. Yet neither discipline works in isolation and to get the best returns for any business, they need to be closely aligned.
The important thing is that the ultimate goal – increased revenue – is the same for both teams. Research shows that companies that are best at aligning the two functions experience average annual revenue growth of 20%.
The key to success is making sure everyone is on the same page and, for this, communication is key. If both teams define a ‘qualified lead’ or ‘buying process’ in the same way, they can work closer together on achieving what each needs.
Collaboration between the two disciplines to define how they will create, qualify and measure the quality of leads generated helps to break down barriers.
Communication with customers is also vital. The traditional sales funnel is no longer as rigid as it once was. Today, customers educate themselves long before making a buying decision and sales people aren’t their fist port of call for product information the way they once were.
Marketing activities now need to last longer within the customer buying cycle, seeding information that customers can find online before they ever speak to a salesperson.
Understanding the customer touchpoints and creating consistency in messaging through marketing and within the sales team have big roles to play in ensuring the impression a customer has is, firstly, the right one and, secondly, continues through their interactions with the business.
Defining your target audience
One of the best ways for marketing and sales to start communicating effectively is to define the target audience. Making sure both teams have the same audience in mind will go a long way towards helping them work together and understand where each is coming from.
Creating a specific audience profile allows you to focus your marketing on attracting those clients that will most benefit your business. If your sales team knows that the best leads come from people interested in a particular feature or from a particular demographic, then your marketing should take this into account.
Don’t be afraid to narrow down your audience; you can be far more targeted, more relevant and more engaging to a smaller audience than you can be if trying to appeal to everyone.
When you start defining your audience, you need to understand the problems that your product or service addresses. Without that knowledge, you won’t know who has the problems that you can solve, which makes defining them and marketing to them difficult!
Profile your existing customers. What are the trends? Are there specific features that the majority display that you can incorporate into your marketing? Again, this is where sales and marketing can combine knowledge for greater success.
Once your target customer is defined, marketing can work on attracting that customer using effective strategies, providing sales with better quality leads from the start.
Generating the RIGHT leads Marketing is obviously designed to generate leads; without that, there’s not a huge amount of point to it. The difficulty lies in ensuring the leads that are generated are the right ones; the ones that will convert into paying customers; the ones that won’t waste your time.
But there’s more to marketing than just creating leads and then leaving everything to the sales team to follow up. Marketing should support sales activities and nurture potential new customers throughout the whole buying process.
Sales and marketing teams should work together to agree a method of ranking or cataloguing leads. Once a new lead comes in, it should be ranked according to the agreed method, which will make it much clearer which team should take ownership of the lead.
Very early on in the buying cycle, new leads may not be ready to make a firm decision and will need lots of information and handholding. This is the ideal point for marketing to take the reins. Nurturing that lead, providing information and remaining in regular communication is a perfect fit with marketing activities.
As leads get closer to buying, or where they have more complex needs or are a more high profile client, the sales team should step in. At this stage, the lead is much more likely to buy and the sales team can start leveraging the marketing communications and brand profile to close the sale. 55 Connect is a full-service marketing agency, passionate about helping companies to bring their brands to life.
With so many paths to go down – offline, online, digital, PR, events – 55 Connect helps companies to ‘connect’ the dots and make the smartest marketing choices for their organisation.