The human side of sales-marketing alignment

Alain Thériault – 13 April 2021

For most companies, the pandemic has increased the “pressure” on sales and marketing. Their routines have been called into question.

Both functions have been “forced” to work together more than ever. With the lack of face-to-face contact, the human aspect of alignment is even more important than before. And this, beyond the technical aspect of aligning sales and marketing..

The reality of sellers

Deprived of trade shows, opportunities to tour suppliers and customers and, private customers of the traditional 5-7 ‘happy hour’, sellers have lost their bearings.

Although the “aces” of business development over the phone (BDR/SDR) were able to continue to schedule appointments, it was more difficult. The effectiveness of their actions have decreased in view of over-solicitation.

In addition, the way to “close” through platforms such as Zoom or Whereby has changed a lot. As a result, many sellers have lost confidence.

The combination of these two realities has had a major impact on the revenues of several companies.

More than ever, sellers have turned to marketing to fill the void in their sales pipeline. Marketing people ended up with measuring results that go beyond vanity metrics.  

 So, what to do?

The reality of marketing

The routine of trade shows has been replaced by a digital emergency. This put a lot of pressure on marketing. Suddenly, the direct link between marketing and the company’s revenues are exposed.

The effectiveness of the usual tactics has been called into question. The speed of change requires a change in speed…

speed of change

Companies where the two functions get along well and collaborate have quickly adjusted. However, for many companies where marketing is culturally in the service of sales or is only image and communication, the rest will prove more difficult.

The pressure to “correct” the situation is particularly intense on these two functions.

Interest in alignment or even the integration of sales and marketing functions has been catalyzed by the pandemic. In addition to having to manage this situation, marketers and sellers have had the pressure to “save” their business!

The angle of communication and collaboration

Between distraught salespeople and a marketing team under pressure, communication and collaboration must be supervised and structured in order to allow everyone to be effective.

There are a host of issues on which the two functions must agree. But before they get to that point, they must learn or, relearn, how to communicate. If this communication is not to the point, open and respectful on both sides, there is a problem.

Questions need to be asked about the company’s culture.

Indeed, many manufacturing and industrial companies are based on a very sales-centric culture. A culture inherited from the way we have sold during the last 40 years.

Many of them have never adapted to digital technology and therefore, have also hired a workforce that is not adapted to the reality of the 21st century.

Findings

Over the past few years, we have repeatedly seen the frustrations of people in marketing at the impossibility for their employer to get out of the trade show mentality. Companies stuck in this type of culture will find it very difficult to adapt! To ensure digital transition, it’s in a company’s best interest to follow a simple process that we described in a previous post.

A younger, brighter direction can lead to changes, but sometimes the company’s habits are well-entrenched. If everyone stays in their position, the company will always be vulnerable.

Even with the right culture, alignment and integration, having the right people in the right places is also required.

Along these lines, several companies have set out to help sales and marketing work together on personas, review and adjust their value proposition, and rethink content strategy.

The Content Management Institute’s statistics dated December 2020, speak for themselves:

  • A total of 70% of companies have changed target and message
  • Many as 64% have changed their publication schedule
  • At least 53% have changed the distribution and promotion of their content
  • 40% have changed their website
  • And also 40% increased their community development effort on social networks

Support and feedback

We often talk about marketing that supports sales; however, the quality of this support often leaves something to be desired if there is no constant feedback on sales to marketers.

In addition to the quantitative data analyzed by marketing and managers, it is necessary to have qualitative sales feedback that emerges from their privileged conversations with prospects and customers.

This feedback will allow the marketing team to adjust and improve the effectiveness of messages and campaigns that generate leads to the sales force. It will also allow the marketing team to produce the material needed to activate sales.

Although they have the necessary concepts specific to their “trades”, each of the two functions still has a limited knowledge of the reality of the other which prevents them from collaborating well.

If the size of the teams allows, it is recommended to have a “Smarketing” team, made up of members of both functions who meet on a weekly basis.

Source : Right On Interactive

It is often necessary to have a sales observer at the marketing meeting, just as it is good to have a marketing observer at the sales meeting.

Collaboration roadmap

We also encourage teams to develop and sign Collaborative Agreements (SLA) together. These agreements generally revolve around the quality of leads transferred to the sales team through marketing and the speed of follow-up and feedback from the sales team to the marketing department.

It is only by being systematic in collaboration that the real results will surface.

Systematic means process. Both functions need to agree on a process, the process of how prospects discover us, become interested in us, evaluate us, become a customer and so on.

During this journey, a lot of information is accumulated and will have to be interpreted and shared within both functions. The roadmap for collaboration between sales and marketing is similar to this.

Note: It is partial and general. It must be adapted to your reality.

You may be taking some steps, but we encourage you to look at each of them and ask yourself if the two functions work well on each of these topics.

1- Campaign planning

2- Lead management

3- Content

4- Market intelligence

5- Performance Indicators (PI) and Targets and Key Outcomes (TKO)

6- Events (In person or digital)

7- Marketing campaign

8- List management

9- HR planning (marketing/sales)

10- Types of visuals required

11- Special offers or promotions offered

In conclusion

Once all of these points have been well understood, debated and accepted, a conversation must be had on the use of technologies.

CRM and automation are essential and both functions have a strong interest in collaborating on their use and knowing all the possibilities.

For more details, we invite you to download our latest document entitled: The transformation of the sales model through sales-marketing alignment.  

Or participate in our next webinar on the subject.

Call us to discuss.

To your successes!

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