In most organizations, sales and marketing teams are acquaintances, at best. In the worst case, they’re enemies. Although some level of competition usually doesn’t hurt, the connection between these two departments suffers from miscommunication – or complete lack of communication. This is, to say the least, incredible, considering that both teams have the same ultimate goal: increase business revenue.
Once upon a time, sales and marketing strategies were openly not aligned. John Wanamaker, a marketer active in the 1800s, was quoted saying:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Today it’s easier to realize why salespeople at the time didn’t understand marketing efforts. There was no accountability to results and sales reps most of the time would wonder how the marketing team was contributing to their work, although it was claiming the credit for success.
With the rise of digital marketing and technology, marketing accountability is at an all-time high. These technological improvements have allowed marketers to take responsibility for user acquisition, retention and also nurturing leads down the sales funnel for a perfect handoff to the sales team.
The Definition of Sales And Marketing: Strategic Sales And Marketing and International Marketing
Sales is about selling products and services to new customers as well as upselling to current clients. Sales activities might vary between cold outreach and inbound leads provided by marketing initiatives. Sales reps need to work closely with potential clients, establish a relationship and gain their trust to fulfill their needs.
Marketing, on the other hand, is responsible for brand awareness and user acquisition and retention. On a general level, the marketing team needs to identify the ideal customer and define the communication style and channels.
Strategic Sales And Marketing And International Marketing
Although these two teams often operate on their own, strategic sales and marketing is the ideal state. Strategic sales and marketing require two important elements:
- Working together in a separate but equal capacity that relies on impeccable communication.
- Looking at the future by predicting consumer behavior trends and pipeline growth as well as analyzing the current state by addressing customers’ needs.
Strategic Sales and Marketing: 7 Tips To Succeed
1. Create Personas In A Joint Sales & Marketing Effort
Personas are often a marketing related topic, while are widely ignored by the sales team. Such misalignment, however, is a huge missed opportunity as both departments are talking to the same ideal customers. Achieving alignment on this will benefit both teams as well as the whole company.
The marketing team might still be requested to work on this initial strategy, however, sales should be involved in this to provide inputs as well as approval on the right persona-type.
2. Document Buyers’ Journey
The buyer’s journey should be the basis for all sales and marketing efforts. This step is often forgotten, unfortunately. Even worse, these two departments rarely collaborate on understanding and defining this part of the strategy.
Sales and marketing managers should sit together and align with what are the steps each persona takes through the funnel. Defining how each one of these becomes aware of the organization, when and how they become a qualified lead, and lastly also when this becomes an active client.
As this process happens, it is essential that managers keep a list of needs and questions each persona experiences during the journey. Keeping notes of these will help the teams in future steps when analyzing internal resources to address those questions and needs.
3. Audit Sales and Marketing and Document Issues Along the Buyer’s Journey
Once established how the persona’s journey to purchase looks like, it’s time to evaluate whether sales and marketing teams have enough assets to initiate a communication with the audience along the way.
At this stage, both teams need to collect all the material they have created in the past, including whitepapers, infographics, e-books, case studies, and anything else might be relevant for the audience. After this is done, marketers and salespeople will need to organize it to fit each step in the funnel and assess what’s missing.
4. Create A Content Marketing Plan For The Buyers’ Journey
Content marketing is often regarded as a brand awareness tactic, with no direct impact on revenues. However, many don’t realize how this is directly connected to sales and long-lasting business strategy. Content is what moves the audience through the sales process.
When creating a content marketing strategy that is supposed to help both sales and marketing, make sure to get both team managers in one room and discuss what audience to address and how they would like to address it. It’s also very important to understand and define how content should support the persona through the different funnel stages.
5. Develop An Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Strategy
The content marketing strategy might be “in favor” of the marketing side of the business; however, an account-based marketing will focus on the needs of the sales team. Although these might have a different focus, it’s important that they are aligned.
Marketing and sales managers should choose whether to implement an organic ABM strategy or pay for an ABM technology that will allow sales and marketing automation.
The sales team might be more involved with the accounts they want to target, but the marketing team should be brought in at every level. This becomes especially relevant when it comes to content creation for ABM ads or for dynamic, account-focused content on websites.
6. Have Regular Sales & Marketing Communication Activities
One of the simplest steps, but for sure one of the most important, in creating a great sales and marketing strategy that keeps alignment between the teams is to have regular communication with the audience.
The frequency is up to the company and how the communication style is perceived internally and externally. It’s crucial to have both teams on the same page to be aligned with the status-quo and long-term business goals.
7. Repeat Steps 1-6 On A Quarterly/Annual Basis
The last step in a successful strategic sales and marketing process is revisiting and refining the steps above mentioned. This process is never ended and needs constant fine-tuning.
It’s crucial that team managers track progress and think about new techniques on how to improve on results achieved.
Regardless of whether marketers are looking to push their international sales and marketing strategy or simply start taking steps towards more strategic sales and marketing efforts, these 7 steps will work as a base to drive organizational success.
It goes without saying that to make this a success, marketing and sales team need to work alongside and understand shared goals and responsibilities. Ultimately, as the roles of sales teams and marketing teams grow closer and the lines of accountability continue to blur, it is in everyone’s best interest to start working together.
The best part is, the more sales and marketing connect on personas, buyers’ processes, strategies, and results, the more refined the efforts will become and the better business results will be. In other words—everyone wins.
Do you have any other suggestions on what could make a company strategic sales and marketing process successful? Have you implemented in your company any of the above-mentioned steps and seen results? Share your experience in the comment section below.