In any B2B organization, marketing and sales departments are joined at the hip, whether they like it or not. Marketing raises brand awareness and generates product interest, whilst sales takes that interest and turns it into revenue. Sales teams couldn’t generate revenue without the interest raised by marketing, but marketing would struggle to raise interest unless they know (thanks to sales and their experiences) what people in the market are looking for, and who needs their product. Teaming these departments up makes sense- in every way- but is it realistically possible?
Let’s look at this logically, there’s a clear divide already between B2B sales and marketing departments, and they can’t even agree on that! Recent surveys show over 50% of B2B salespeople feel supported by their marketing department, but less than 25% of B2B marketers felt the same way about sales. There’s no doubt that organizations who have been successful in aligning sales and marketing see benefits; statistics show you’re 67% more likely to close deals when these departments work on the same page. This is a huge figure that could have some serious impact on current results, so it’s time to move forward and welcome change.
Problems we face divided
Arguably, we could say “everything’s working fine now, why do we need to worry about aligning sales and marketing at all?”, and this may be the case for many organizations currently, but over time the cracks will begin to show due to the remaining disconnect between these two pivotal teams.
- The vicious blame-game circle– When poor revenue is generated, a huge amount of finger pointing occurs, because the team is divided and a vicious circle breaks out. Sales will blame marketing for a lack of business leads, poor quality conversions or miscommunicating the product, and marketing will blame sales for failing to pull leads through the pipeline and close deals. This continues to spin in a circle until people get bored and move on. This isn’t helpful or productive for anyone, and soon both teams become bogged down in measuring unnecessary KPIs, to cover their backs should any further accusations arise. A B2B organization soon becomes a game of politics and strategy, against your own colleagues! How can you expect to be treated like a professional team if you can’t act like one?
- The content problem– Marketing departments create plenty of content and collateral to generate interest in their product, and sometimes, sales want to use them too- especially if they’re assets appealing to those further down the B2B sales pipeline, such as customer success stories. But due to the lasting miscommunication, sales teams ask for assets last minute and marketing don’t actually have what the sales lead has been promised, causing more squabbles. Sales teams then decide to make their own collateral and the brand image is failed whilst valuable time is wasted from multiple people. Until some sort of “sharing is caring” system comes into play, organizations see huge arguments arise over the use of marketing content on the sales floor. This should be an open stream, where everyone can make the most of what the brand has to offer, but this is broadly not the case.
- Inconstancy in rules– If a rift continues to grow between marketing and sales, things can start to unravel in the wake of differing rules. Both marketing and sales qualify leads, but often in a different way, so marketing’s hard earned business leads, which they think are great quality can be seen as useless by their sales teams. If marketers have a set of criteria for qualification that barely aligns with what sales use, then how can you hope to harmonize in generating new business opportunities and revenue? The simple fix is of course, communication, but it goes far deeper than that. If these departments can’t work together, then the effect on the overall business is huge. If they can’t generate revenue- then what happens? We don’t really need to delve into the gory details…
Why is teaming up so hard?
It’s obvious these two departments need to get together, then they’ll both see better results, lift morale and achieve their fullest potential. However- it will come as no surprise to any of us that the road to aligned B2B marketing and sales is full of bumps and potholes…
- They don’t understand why– If your sales and marketing teams can’t see the logic behind alignment then they won’t try to make it a success. We are all creatures of habit, and without good reason, we dislike change. If you want to align successfully, your teams need to understand why it’s necessary for your organization, and what impact it will have directly on them. Some businesses have a bonus/commission scheme for marketing and sales that purposely relies on the performance of both departments, strengthening that bond and giving them a physical reason to make it work!
- There’s nothing there to begin with– Zero plus Zero is still nothing, and in most organizations there is currently no social or business mixing between these two teams. Organizations that try to align teams without any previous mixing have their work cut out for them. It all starts at the top- if you B2B sales and marketing directors aren’t getting along, or meeting regularly, then how can your teams follow suit? These two don’t just need to be talking, they need to be planning the future together so they can help their teams understand that as departments, they really do rely on each other. The solution is different for every organization, based on size of teams and characters within those teams. Some organizations implement a buddy system, so similar personalities in marketing and sales can team up and work to fashion targets that link their job roles together.
So where do we go from here?
Let’s step away from the negatives and look towards what we can do straight away to get these teams talking, interacting and working together. We shouldn’t see teaming these departments up as an impossible feat- it’s very doable, and plenty of organizations have succeeded in securing a seamless alignment to reap the rewards. Here are some great places to start:
- Align your goals– Driven team members naturally aspire to achieve given goals and targets, so make sure these goals for marketing and sales are aligned and dependent on each other. As teams work towards meeting their final numbers, they’ll see how their work blends together naturally. Hold regular meetings where ideas for both sales and marketing are discussed with everyone, and plan every target as a joint effort, not as what bits are yours and what bits are theirs. Soon you’ll see teams understand the organization’s overall goals, and how their input goes together to meet the targets of the bigger picture. Once you’ve aligned the goals and targets, plan the strategies as a unit too. Especially for B2B lead generation- gain feedback from sales; discover their ideal sales lead, then use marketing’s knowledge of how people look for solutions to get tactical. You’ll produce winning strategies, that everyone is passionate about working on.
- Work closely physical as well as metaphorically– This may seem obvious, but enough can’t be said or the power of proximity. Sitting close to new people helps foster new friendships and inspires an environment of learning and intrigue. Look at your team, if one of them was moved away to a desk on the other side of the office, no matter how hard you tried to include them, they would eventually feel phased out and no longer a proper team member. Remember this, and re-organize seating, so sales and marketing are one team. These strengthened bonds of friendship will bring you something invaluable- a passion to do well for each other. Success will be shared; if your social media guy sits next to your best salesperson, and she closes a deal from a lead he passed to her, that’s shared success- they’ll celebrate and want to do it all over again!
- Find a solution that binds them together– Buy using a tool that puts sales and marketing all in one place, your teams will see how working together to generate results isn’t a want, it’s a must! Lead Forensics for example is a lead generation solution used by B2B marketing and sales experts on a global scale. The solution identifies your anonymous website visitors, and provides insightful information for each visit, including business name, contact details for key decision makers and a breakdown of time spent on your site. The software caters perfectly for teams aligning marketing and sales; our customizable dashboard allows marketing to see everything they need, from most popular referral website to most visiting industries, and our Lead Manager function allows sales teams to keep track of their qualified leads, guiding them through the pipeline from interest to sale.
Discover how Lead Forensics can revolutionize your B2B lead generation and effortlessly weave your sales and marketing teams together- book your free demo today!
Free guide – Learn how a multi-channel approach can evolve your new business lead generation and bring you the best results. Download Effective multi-channel models for marketing and sales for free today!