Post by: Joe Wilkins, Flume Trainer & Coach
At a recent B2B sales and marketing conference I had the pleasure of meeting a truly diverse range of sales and marketing professionals, all united by a common goal – to achieve the best possible results in their roles. This blog will look at how both sales and marketing must work together effectively if we want to get the best results for ourselves and, crucially, our clients and customers.
I took part in a series of round table discussions focused on sales and marketing alignment. I wanted to find out what was stopping salespeople and marketers working together effectively and come away with actionable tips on how to go about changing it. This blog post is the outgrowth of that and I hope you find it useful.
The best place to start is to outline my view of the primary challenges faced by salespeople and marketers today. Below are the beliefs that underpin this blog entry and Flume’s entire existence – see if you recognise what I’m describing:
All of the above feeds into my central argument about sales and marketing alignment; sales and marketing must work towards shared goals.
Both functions want to win the client’s business but this requires the client to “buy” or commit in some way. We therefore need to make sure that our sales and marketing approach helps our clients to buy from us and doesn’t (even unintentionally) hinder this. Everything we do, across all client-facing business functions, must help the client choose us.
So far, so obvious, right? However, in Flume’s experience, we hear a lot of talk about sales and marketing alignment but, in reality, these functions can often be working to different, or even completely opposing, goals. When this happens, clients will often see conflicting messages from sales and marketing, confused or disjointed pricing and a dizzying array of options which doesn’t help them make the right choice (to name a few bad outcomes). This has to change if we want to help clients buy from us and leads me to the first rule of sales and marketing alignment:
The most powerful shared goal that salespeople and marketers have is to help their clients achieve the best possible results. This is the only outcome the client cares about and our success in communicating this will dictate whether the client chooses to buy or not. Striving for this together will help you win new business, retain clients and grow accounts. Ignore this and clients will find it easier to stick with what they know, work with your competitors or do nothing.
Rule 1 is the foundation stone of everything that follows. Here are the other fundamental rules that we see working on the front line as well as a few tactical tips and ideas for how to get sales and marketing working together more collaboratively:
A lack of understanding can breed resentment between sales and marketing. This might sound overblown but I’ve seen it first hand and it is not pretty or productive. Put simply, if salespeople don’t know what marketers do or why they exist (and vice versa) then they aren’t going to work together very effectively.
Consider these tactics to help build understanding and empathy:
Often, it feels like Sales and Marketing are speaking different languages but the reality is that we need to communicate in ways that work for the intended audience. This might require salespeople to actually read those lovingly-prepared marketing reports. It might mean marketers setting time aside for salespeople to share their sales stories in ways they find easy to communicate. The simple truth is that it is easier for us to adapt the way we communicate to others than to ask them to adapt to us.
Tactics to help sales and marketing communicate more effectively:
Every lead is precious and should be treated with care. It’s therefore important that everyone has visibility on where the client is within their buying journey and how to progress them to the next stage. Work together to map your typical client’s buying journey and think about what needs to happen to progress the client to the next stage. What will the message(s) need to be at each stage? Who is best-placed to deliver it? Let’s move away from the idea of MQLs and SQLs and instead agree how the sales and marketing process needs to be in order to positively influence client decision-making.
Tactics to build a common understanding of the client’s buying journey:
It’s quite common to focus on the outputs we want to achieve such as financial results or KPIs but it is the approach that we take that drives these outputs. One way of thinking about this is to consider the behaviours we need to be living and breathing in order drive the results we are looking for. Focus on the behaviours that your clients would need you to demonstrate in order to choose you and you will have the building blocks of a shared culture.
Tactics to build a shared culture:
Not convinced, need to convince others or just want more information on where our beliefs have come from? Download Flumes’s Sales Excellence Benchmark for see our take on what’s changed in sales and the sales beliefs, behaviours and skills that are working today.
If you need help aligning your sales and marketing strategies, the Flume team are here to help – just contact us today.