It hasn’t always been the case that sales teams and marketing departments have been closely aligned. In fact sales and marketing alignment has been a hotly debated topic.

Historically, separate and equal is very much the scenario for both of them. The message in 2015, however, is increasingly different: sales and marketing leaders need to bring these two elements of business together. 

The result? Conversions and revenues rise. Recent statistics help tell the story.

  • According to a CMO Council survey, while 38% of content-marketing officers would like to see a closer sales-marketing alignment, only 30% of content-marketing strategies feature a focus on integrating the two.
  • The results of a well-integrated sales and marketing effort? Aberdeen Research says it can be a 32% revenue growth. And SiriusDecisions’ recent study showed that tighter integration leads to a 24% uptick in the pace of three-year revenue growth, with a 27% increase in the pace of profit during that same timeframe.

The case for deeper integration being what it is, when it comes to the practical, boots-on-the-ground side of the sales-marketing alignment question, how can your team help make it happen? 

For answers, let’s turn to sales and marketing leaders working on the equation, right now. Read on for five approaches to dovetailing sales and marketing that you can introduce to your daily workflow.

1. Open the door: get sales to talk to marketing about what resonates

Marketing teams often create the content that fuels a business’ blogs and social-media campaigns. But your sales team stands be a significant conduit for those creators as well. “Every couple of months, a member of the sales team will come to us with a topic that's really been resonating in sales calls or something new that they discovered at a trade show, and we'll write about that,” said Marci Hansen, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at SheerID. “They also give us suggestions about publications that their prospects are reading so we can pitch a story or place a contributor article where our target audience is most likely to see it.” Enable your team. Broker collaborative content meetings and watch the ideas fly.

2. Invite inspiration: encourage marketing to share intelligence with your team

The flow of information between sales and marketing needs to be a two-way dynamic. As you encourage your sales reps to share resonating ideas with marketing, bring marketing closer too. Ask them to describe their go-forward steps; approaches sales can take will emerge from that info.“Sales reps need to be informed if someone calls from a display advertisement, a blog, or a PPC ad,” said Jason Parks, owner of The Media Captain. “There are so many online outlets that can drive the sales funnel and your reps need to be clued in on all of this.”

3. Take ownership: assign your reps to the director's/editor’s chair

A key strategic upshot is as follows: turn to your marketing team for the story, rely on your sales team to further direct and edit the narrative. In other words, marketing generates leads (like a film producer), sales tailors the marketing-driven pitch to best suit the audience at hand (like a film's director and editor). 

4. Broadcast value props: dovetailinng sales and marketing reduces cold pitches and leverages conversions

According to Angelique Pivoine, SEO specialist for 911 Restoration, some marketing teams still rely too heavily on pay-per-click and traditional ad campaigns. Recent Google search updates have made that more and more undesirable. “Eighty percent of all our organic leads come from search engine. Customers look at our pages, then call the sales department,” Pivoine said. “Representatives realized that if they use the same language and keywords as we do on the page, customers trust them more … by writing good content, we are saving the sales team from having to make cold pitches. Clients who call are already leaning towards us, and it only takes a little nudge for them to close the deal.”

5. Enact the change: all-hands-on-deck for collaboration

A key moment, when it comes to these strategies and best practices, is your next new product launch. Thats’s when the marketing-sales dovetail enters its real-time deployment phase. “It's all-hands-on deck,” said Hansen, “and the marketing team and sales team will have multiple brainstorming sessions and meetings to develop the messaging and refine the talk-track around the new product, all before marketing creates decks, landing pages, one-pagers, and other materials for the sales team.”

If there is an essential takeaway, start with this one: marketing’s most important client is the sales team, and marketing is sales' most important consultant. 

When you empower your team of reps to reach out to marketing — and to be available to marketing, in return — the winners come as a pair: your customers and your conversion rate. And that’s good news for any company’s future returns and revenue.

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[PHOTO: Flickr: Creative Commons: ralphbijker: ] 

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