When sales and marketing align, they become the ultimate power couple. Their alignment increases revenue, shortens the sales cycle, and improves conversion rates. In fact, according SiriusDecisions research, “highly aligned B2B organizations achieve 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability.” While sales and marketing teams have similar objectives, the way they achieve them can look very different. And those differences can keep you from seeing symptoms of real structural problems that keep the two departments siloed.
Since a lack of alignment can keep your company from growing and succeeding, it’s crucial to get these teams moving in the same direction. Yeah, we know identifying problems between departments is complicated. But recognizing symptoms of misalignment is your first step. The second is doing something about it. The following identifies 3 common misalignment symptoms as well as some useful ways to fix those problems. If you focus on solutions and are willing to fix what doesn’t work, you can nurture this couple into an efficient, happy relationship. It requires improving skills, a useful CRM, and opportunities for more transparency and communication.
Symptom 1: Marketing Sends Leads to a Black Hole in Sales
Misalignments can develop due to skill set imbalance and handoff problems.
“Look, marketing delivers qualified leads to sales only for them to disappear into ‘a black hole.'” We’ve heard this repeatedly. In truth, marketing often doesn’t prioritize leads, and sales doesn’t triage the leads they receive. Or, once leads hit the sales department, they aren’t properly assigned or there’s a lack of lead follow-up. To top it off, there’s no built-in accountability in sales that requires the team to report back to marketing on lead quality. Finally, if your sales team complains that they’re last in line for training and development, you need to listen.
Sound familiar? Create balance with training and handoffs.
The first solution is to push more resources into sales training and development. That will mitigate any skill set imbalance. But don’t stop there. You should also think about leaning on marketing to handle some of the follow-ups. This move keeps the sales plate clear to handle only the highest quality, bottom-of-the-funnel leads.
You can likewise adjust the marketing-to-sales lead transfer. Have marketing hand off to sales only those leads that have met specific criteria. Document exactly what those qualifications are, clarify who owns each type of lead, and update those criteria as needed. These precautions will keep marketing from overstepping into the realm of sales. They’ll also empower your sales team. Good communication usually does.
Symptom 2: Sales Isn’t Using the CRM
Customer relationship management platforms only work when they’re used and used correctly.
“Our CRM? Honestly, it’s just another pointless tech tool that gives the C-suite a way to track our work.” If your sales team feels this way about your CRM, they’re not using it. And if they do, they’re more than likely not using it correctly.
That’s a problem, because a CRM can boost the performance of a sales team. But that’s only when a team adopts and uses it. More often than not the CRM is not used correctly. And that renders any piece of software useless. We can’t say we blame them. Too often CRMs are full of garbage data.
It’s pretty easy to spot signs that the CRM isn’t used as intended:
- Salespeople have separate excel sheets sitting on their desktops.
- Marketing makes decisions based on what leads are converting into sales.
- Marketing uses the same tactics over and over, and they get (no surprise) the same results.
Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity comes to mind. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Under his definition, marketing is insane – no wonder teams get frustrated. When those in marketing don’t know what happens to leads once they’re handed off to sales, they begin making blindfolded decisions. Without visibility into whether the leads coming in are good or bad, marketing ends up spinning their wheels.
Got CRM problems? Find the right CRM for your teams.
Consider asking sales why the CRM doesn’t work for them. Remember, a CRM is only useful if everyone uses it. If the software isn’t compatible with your team, stop wasting your money and find another. There are a lot of CRM solutions on the market. It is not a one-size-fits-all. Get input! Complete a CRM needs analysis. Figure out what you actually need the CRM to do and then find one that works with your existing sales process. And don’t forget training!
Symptom 3: Sales Gets Annoyed with Marketing but Isn’t Empowered to Say Anything
Less communication equals more misalignment.
“What the hell does marketing even do?” If your sales folks are grousing among themselves about bad leads or questioning what marketing does with their time, you’ve got a problem. We see this all too often. At its core is a breakdown in communication. That causes frustration–for both sales and marketing. Marketing wants to hear these complaints directly from the sales team. They want–they need–to know what resonates with prospects and what doesn’t. That information is gold! Without it, marketing makes emotional decisions, and they repeat mistakes.
Aligned and well-functioning departments must have a means to communicate with one another. Full stop.
Got dissension in the ranks? Open up opportunities for dialogue between departments.
When sales and marketing aren’t encouraged to talk to each other, you’ve got a structure that encourages misalignment. Sometimes teams don’t even know the names of people in other departments! You can solve this by opening dialogue. Lower the gate between the departments. Create time and opportunity for marketing and sales to interact. The more departments talk to one another, the more receptive to feedback they will be. And the better your company’s culture will be.
It starts at the top.
Opening communication between sales and marketing starts with leadership. That means you need to have a clear understanding of what a healthy sales/marketing relationship looks like. When that’s in your scope, put systems in place to nurture that relationship. Here are some ideas we’ve seen work well to keep communication lines open:
- A weekly or monthly note to sales about campaigns marketing is launching
- Mixers and chat groups with both departments
- Monthly 15-minute lunchtime presentations from a sales or marketing person in their area of expertise
- Slack channels for both departments for fun posts, memes, links to marketing campaigns, and announcements of new clients
- Company-wide celebration emails when a new customer closes with highlights of how marketing got the lead, and who in sales closed it
Fixing the underlying causes of misalignment can make a huge impact on your business success. By opening the lines of communication, sales and marketing can thrive. And you’ll have the ultimate power couple on your side!
It’s not easy. We can help you with alignment issues.
On paper it makes sense, right? Get your people to work together. We know that each company and each team have their own unique circumstances. When there isn’t good communication between departments, old hurts can fester. We’ve worked with a lot of companies, and we know how to get past the baggage to help teams communicate and succeed. These are foundational issues that affect your whole company. If tackling alignment feels like too daunting a task to do on your own, let’s talk. We love leading teams to great things! Book a free consult today.