Let’s start by understanding one thing: growing a business is about learning and duplicating a process that works and which is scalable. This will involve aligning sales and marketing in a repeatable way. That star salesperson who’s dynamite when they’re in front of a client is actually damaging your long term prospects in spite of the initial figures. When they move on, you’ll struggle to reach the same level of sales again unless you’ve built a documented, repeatable process.
Define, agree and share terms
Of course a lot of this can be done in software, which is why a reliable customer relationship management (CRM) system is invaluable but alignment between Sales and Marketing starts before this is even considered.
To duplicate a process the first thing that has to happen is an agreement on terms. It’s important, even vital, to standardise what a contact actually is, when it becomes a lead, who acts on it, to whom it is allocated and what happens next. Once definitions are agreed, it’s equally critical to look at the structure of the business. Any sign of siloing of functions and roles has to be broken down; points at which Marketing hands over to Sales have to be smooth to the point at which it feels as though they are working as one department.
Establish joint goals
This realignment away from the silo structure can be established by joint goal-setting. The software you use can then start passing the stages and associated tasks between the aligned participants. A number of individual elements can be aligned to ensure maximum efficacy. These include the already-mentioned alignment of definitions and goals as well as:
- A single view of the customer between sales and marketing – and other departments – is essential.
- Notifications are also mission-critical. Too many sales have fallen through the cracks when a sales executive doesn’t understand that they were responsible for it in the first place.
- Support campaigns. Inbound marketing is increasingly important and the customer is evolving accordingly. Marketing needs to lead them to the point of sale with familiar and comfortable-feeling content around them to assure them they are being spoken to in their own language, while salespeople need more knowledge about the customer’s own business, rather than about the product or service on offer (which the customer will have been able to research online – a point made very effectively on Forbes).
Use collaborative technology
As a final overlay, technology can be an enormous boost. A shared console structure using the same underlying data, talking to customers in their own language and enabling handover between departments can only be a good thing. However, if your business takes away only one thought surrounding the alignment of Marketing and Sales, then let it be that the technology is just that – a final overlay. To make it fly you need it to adjust the corporate culture first if necessary.
- Accelerating business growth requires Sales and Marketing alignment.
- Establish joint goals that Marketing and Sales should work towards, with an emphasis on working towards them collaboratively.
- Use CRM to pass information successfully between Marketing and Sales so your business can always grow.
By Billy Lyle, Managing Director of Redspire CRM Consultancy, Billy has more than 15 years experience in deploying business solutions, directing commercial and technical development work on a day-to-day basis. To learn why data-driven marketing is becoming a key tool for SMEs to deliver effective campaigns that profitably engage their customers read the blog post: Circle Of Success: Data – Understanding – Customers