Every company strives to create a healthy sales and marketing partnership, where each discipline learns from each other, both understand the value proposition and knows how the customer wants to engage and buy.
But how do you align your sales and marketing efforts and ultimately engage more prospects who value and will pay for your products and services?
Review this checklist to help you uncover the untapped potential in improved sales and marketing alignment, and accelerate sales in doing so.
1. Remember that Sales and Marketing are often talking to the same prospects
Marketing has their buyer personas, to whom they target their content and messages, and sales has their ideal customer profiles to help qualify a prospect to shape the right engagement strategy. Yet when we interviewed more than 50 sales and marketing professionals for A Guide to Sales & Marketing Messaging Alignment and asked “how clear is your message on a scale of 1-10”, the average response was only 5/10 for clarity.
So you need to ask:
- Do your buyer personas match up with the lead buyers for the sales actually closing today?
- Do your buyer personas match up with sales’ ideal customer profiles?
- What do you know about the wins and losses once prospects are in the sales team’s hands?
- Do you have access to this information and do you use it to check what happens at the top of the funnel?
- Set up regular touch points to share quantitative and qualitative data on your ideal prospect.
- Share marketing analytics with sales that show any changes in who is engaging with or dropping out of your top marketing vehicles.
- Get documentation from sales on their ideal customer profiles, including existing customer data.
- Take steps to align the entire marketing and sales process to remove disparities.
2. Make sure Marketing and Sales are following the same roadmap
Potential customers can get 70 to 90 percent of the information they need online, meaning marketing is a critical part of selling. Are the two functions in alignment? Research has shown that when marketing and sales are aligned in one simple thing – formal definition of qualified lead – there’s a seven percent increase in reps meeting quota, ten percent more leads make it to an initial meeting, and a 31 percent increase in incubation of promising leads.
So ask yourself:
- Have you jointly mapped out the customers’ buying process with sales, and are your marketing and sales processes aligned with this?
- Do you know exactly what prospects want to find out for themselves and when? Can they do so easily online?
- Do you know what prospects want to find out about you from external sources (industry, press, network), and can they?
- Have you interviewed existing customers for feedback on their buying process, what they were able to find easily and if there was anything they needed that you don’t have?
- Have sales and marketing map out the ideal customer buying process and then audit both the Sales and Marketing parts of your internal process.
- Look for areas where your internal processes slow down the prospect’s progress.
- Interview existing customers who align with your ideal customer profiles and build on their input.
3. Mobilize Marketing to support Sales
Though prospects do online research before engage a salesperson, the role of sales is still critical.
Marketing resources can improve sales’ chances of success. So ask:
- How much information can marketing feed sales on qualified prospects, so Sales is fully prepared to provide the final input needed to close?
- What information should a prospect only get from a salesperson?
- Does the company support sales enablement with resources needed to keep salespeople’s industry and product knowledge current? (Marketing is keeping customers current through webinars, whitepapers, industry news, etc.)
- Ask Sales what new lead information is most valuable and deliver it to their sales system as automatically as possible.
- Have sales and marketing agree on what resources should not be public, and what the only call to action on the website should be to engage.
- Determine which marketing resources could be adapted for ongoing learning in sales and then work with sales enablement/operations to deliver.
4. Give prospects the right content at the right time
Once you have great marketing content and understand your prospect’s buying process, it’s time to review how and when they want to consume it.
So ask yourself:
- How will prospects use the content you provide? Will they pass it onto a colleague, share it publicly, work through it as a team, or incorporate it into their internal business case?
- What formats are preferred?
- Where do prospects go for content? A guest post in an industry blog or LinkedIn Pulse may carry more weight than the same information on a company blog.
- Does your gated/ungated content align with the prospect’s buying process?
- When will prospects willingly trade contact details for value? Do they come across gated content too soon and stop?
- Review website stats for your gated/ungated downloads to determine alignment to prospects buying cycles.
- Interview existing customers and prospects for insights on what works best.
- Determine the best destinations for your prospects, decide what content can be placed or housed there.
- Test different content vehicles and provide multiple formats when possible.
5. Give sales the right content at the right time, too
Marketing materials created for prospects may not work for sales, especially later in the buying process when sales must match a product or service to the prospect’s specific needs. That’s when salespeople may information packaged in a different ways.
Consider the following:
- Is your content the right size and accessible or do sales have to copy and paste any time they want to email details on a particular feature a customer cares about? Or do they have to email out a dozen links to provide prospects with a full overview of the particular desired solution?
- Is your content usable? Do your video excerpts and website sections have hyperlinks that can be easily emailed or included in a proposal? Or can you only link to a more generic page, making them unusable as shared content?
- Does sales know what marketing content exists and do they have an easy way to learn about new marketing resources such as upcoming webinars or white papers? Or is it quick and easy for Sales to find the latest information to use with prospects?
- Are both sales and marketing materials consistent and speaking with the same voice? Can sales easily incorporate existing resources into their proposals?
- Review any tracking data you have available on internal content use of marketing resources.
- Put salespeople together with their sales operations/enablement colleagues, to find out what content they use and what they feel is missing.
Answer the questions raised on this checklist correctly, in ways that fit both your company and your prospects and you’re on your way to bridging any marketing/sales gaps. And here’s one last item to check off: this process is ongoing, evolving and changing, so be sure to revisit it regularly.
Paula Cassin is the Director of Sales and Marketing for WittyParrot, a cloud-based content delivery platform that helps companies to speak with one voice.