I’m always shocked as I talk to clients and prospects that their sales and marketing teams aren’t talking regularly, and many aren’t even headed toward the same goals.
While there is some natural tension between the two areas, considering the pace of business and the competitive noise both teams have to cut through, smart leaders know you can’t be doing one without knowledge and input from the other.
Tip 1: Plan with both parties in the room.
A sales initiative should be accompanied by a marketing campaign. No exceptions. The latest neuroscience tells us that most people need to make a connection to a brand up to seven times before they fully engage. Integrating marketing into your pipeline management is easier if you do it up front and allows marketing people adequate time to create meaningful touchpoints that empower your sales team.
Tip 2: Communicate and interact intentionally.
Salespeople know what prospects are saying, and direct feedback from prospects is great input for marketers to hear. Marketers should be driving the brand, ensuring that salespeople understand the messaging that the company deems necessary and most effective to reach prospects, clients and employees. Marketing is not a one-and-done solution. The best marketing should evolve based on success and failures so that your team is continuously headed for the bullseye. By design, marketing feedback loops that involve on-the-ground sales insights are a great way to unite the efforts, and keep the team headed toward the same goals.
Tip 3: Know your sales cycle.
Is it a transactional sale, or a more consultative sale taking a longer period of time? If it is a consultative sale, marketing has to play a role in moving prospects through the pipeline. We talk about the three phases of marketing and how they naturally overlay the sales pipeline. We define them as: Awareness, Influence and Engagement.
For Awareness, we are making sure people are aware of you for the right reasons. Brand-centered communication reaffirming the agreed upon standards. It brings the target audience to see you for the reasons you determine. Salespeople don’t want to have to explain who you are and what you do all of the time. The awareness phase of the marketing cycle can help center that effort and influence your customers with subject matter expertise and knowledge of the business they care about. This deepens the conversation to get them to start to trust you and your abilities. Trust leads to consideration, and consideration to engagement. And engagement is where your salespeople can talk specifically about the solution. That sequence of events seldom ever changes. Timeframes in each phase may vary from business to business, but these marketing cycle steps always feed the sales pipeline.
Tip 4: Keep working the plan.
The key is to stay on schedule. Stay on course. People may determine that they need a rogue one-pager or a collateral piece ‘just for them,’ but you need to stay focused on the agreed upon plan to ensure results. Salespeople are notorious for saying that they are waiting for marketing materials to help them do something (anything). And marketing people can get frustrated when salespeople don’t follow up on leads that are generated. But it’s possible to harness the power of that tension if you can put sales and marketing goals into the same plan with an understanding of what each can bring to the table.
The marriage of sales and marketing can at times seem dysfunctional or even headed for divorce, but it’s possible to make it a strong relationship if leaders in both camps are open to regular communication, appreciation and respect. Pretty sound advice for any marriage.