I have always been impressed by the teamwork exemplified by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows display team. A group of highly skilled and accomplished individuals that when working together in sync demonstrate impressive agility and discipline that is both effective and engaging.
A key area in business that teamwork, alignment and trust is essential is that of Sales and Marketing.
Sales and Marketing often see themselves as two separate breeds; in fact, I have heard Sales refer to Marketing as the colouring-in department and Marketing refer to Sales as the Dine and Dream team.
The real truth of the matter is that Sales and Marketing are all members of a single team and if these parts are not working in sync, then the whole business will suffer.
There are many articles, websites, training courses and even entire companies focused on helping companies with Sales and Marketing alignment; sometimes I wonder why it is so hard to achieve…
There are clearly some different sets of skills as we move from the Top of the Funnel towards closing the deal, but these skillsets should be seen as entirely complementary, which when combined effectively, create an outstanding business growth team.
If we want to build something that is going to last and withstand onslaughts of all kinds then first and foremost we need strong foundations. In my experience, there are three core principles that are the foundation of an aligned sales and marketing team. These three core principles are two-way commitments:
The first is Visibility – sharing between the teams, details of activities, planning, research, messaging and content.
Secondly, and closely linked to Visibility is Engagement – seeking cross team input and active involvement in both planning and execution of sales and marketing activities.
Finally, Respect – understanding and acceptance of different strengths, perspectives and approaches.
Getting involved and providing input ahead of time means everyone should be informed, prepared and coordinated and ultimately more effective and happier!
These probably seem like pretty basic and common sense things that all professionals in different teams should be doing? To be frank, they are; but doing simple things well and consistently is the foundation of excellence is based. Unfortunately, when I have witnessed a lack of alignment between Sales and Marketing, these basic principles are usually missing!
Building upon these three core principles; the next layer is Understanding. To achieve a good understanding between Sales and Marketing, we need a common language with agreed terms and meanings.
The language of Sales and Marketing starts with the Sales Funnel, Pipeline or Demand Waterfall – in short, the process of attracting and closing business.
It will be subtly but significantly different for different businesses; however, the key factors to define include;
• Target Markets and Organisations
• Buyer Personae
• Lead Scoring Factors
• Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
• Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
• Acceptance and handoff criteria
• Key messages for different sectors and personae
• Agreed ownership for activities and stages of the process
• Performance Metrics throughout the process
There is a lot more detail and specifics that follow, but with a commitment to Visibility, Engagement and Respect and an agreed Language and shared process; then the foundations for truly impressive Sales and Marketing alignment are set.