They’re two of the most important departments within a modern organisation, especially one that is striving for growth. And some savvy business owners instantly recognise the benefits that can be achieved when the professions work closely together in pursuit of the same objectives. Many businesses are acknowledging this and recruiting individuals into the role of ‘Sales and Marketing Directors’ to enhance this synergy.
So why are so many sales and marketing departments, throughout the country, constantly at loggerheads? Is it simply an unfortunate but unavoidable quandary that companies will just have to learn to deal with? Or can there be such thing as a happy marriage between the seemingly battling functions?
Of course, every business operates differently and the relationship between sales and marketing is often greatly influenced by the culture of the organisation. Some brands are already nailing it, realising that marketing can attract good quality leads for the sales team to convert. But in other firms, there seems to be nothing but frustration between the two teams.
In one tech company for instance, we saw senior management pushing for as many leads as possible. Their priority was clearly volume. But this desire to quite literally sell anything, just to hit growth targets, was in stark contrast to the goals elsewhere in the business.
Only a couple of desks away the marketing team was focusing on the quality and relevance of leads. Their argument was that they wanted to attract the right kind of prospect, where there was a clear product fit. That way, they were sure of a higher quality project delivery, which would result in greater customer satisfaction, plus referrals and strong brand advocacy thereafter.
To a certain degree, the field sales team supported this approach. With busy diaries they didn’t want to spend their precious hours attending meetings they couldn’t close. Nor did it feel ethical to make false promises as to what the tech could or couldn’t deliver, just to convert the lead.
However, there was a distinct lack of strategic alignment between how the departments were working, which meant, quite simply, relationships were far from positive.
What’s the secret to a stronger relationship?
What a growing number of businesses are realising, is that marketing automation can act as the ‘referee’ on this often turbulent battleground. In fact, it can provide the secret to a stronger relationship between sales and marketing. But there are a number of key steps to follow to achieve that ‘perfect marriage’:
- The two teams need to sit down together to define what a good quality lead ‘looks like’.
- A scoring mechanism can then be built within the marketing automation platform.
- By creating carefully configured journeys, leads can then be nurtured. This encourages contacts through the funnel and helps to improve the quality of the lead before the data is passed through to sales. In other words, automation bridges what for some companies is a frustrating gap between sales and marketing – it maximises the power of the CRM.
- Intuitive reporting can then be carried out in only a matter of clicks, and the stats speak for themselves, removing some of the subjectivity and emotion from the whole process.
- This intel can then be used for various purposes. The number of quality leads vs ‘second tier’ opportunities, can be identified, for example. It is even possible to segment and distribute leads according to salespeople’s areas of specialism, or, conversely, ensure an equal distribution of leads throughout the sales department. Even closure rates can be analysed, which helps to underpin the effectiveness of the strategy and can potentially encourage further improvements moving forwards. It all depends what metrics senior management want to see, but clever automation will produce these stats in seconds.
- The process of refining lead score and target markets needs to be in constant refinement by sales and marketing combined. An agile approach will ensure marketing test lead definition and short feedback loops come back from sales so this process in continually iterated and improved.
- Overall, using this approach, marketing automation fuels more meaningful conversations and actions, and ultimately avoids the unproductive ‘blame game’.