The tension, and sometimes even resentment, between sales and marketing teams, is notorious. The silo mentality, where departments operate as individual units, is increasingly an issue in the B2B selling space. Forrester data shows that only 8% of B2B companies have tight sales and marketing alignment.
And surprisingly, data from DemandGen and InsideViewfound that alignment is actually becoming a bigger problem, which is having negative effects on the bottom line. The report cites the following as the top challenges in aligning sales and marketing:
- Broken/flawed processes
- Measurement by different metrics
But until the Communication challenge is overcome, the other two problems will continue to become larger issues for the organization.
Why Communication is Important
Marketing creates a ton of great content, but 85% of marketing content is never used by sales. At the same time, 95% of reps think content is essential to advance deals, but they can’t find it, don’t know what content to use when, or lack the confidence that it will help advance their deals.
This lose-lose situation is just one of the reasons marketing and sales need to align. Such lack of communication causes organization-wide disconnects, missed opportunities, and lost revenue.
According to data from App Data Room and Marketo, sales and marketing alignment can make an organization 67% better at closing deals, with 108% less friction, and generate 209% more value from marketing.
Further, a 2013 IDC survey found that B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing departments costs them 10% or more of revenue per year, while companies with strong alignment have been shown to achieve 20% growth rates.
Let’s explore just a few more reasons why marketing and sales communication and alignment are important:
Reps need to be able to add value
When 95% of B2B deals are influenced by content, it is imperative for reps to know what content to use and when to use it. A recent study asserts that almost 60% of customers feel that sales reps are unprepared for initial meetings.
This means that they don’t have the content or resources needed to prepare for the meetings, have value-add conversations with prospects, and drive sales engagement.
The organization needs data and ROI
Data is how marketing knows what content to create and how sales know what content to share. It’s how you know what is working, areas you can improve, and opportunities for new sales strategies. Data is also important for departments to be able to measure their performance.
Customers and prospects can tell when there is a problem
As the buyer journey continues to evolve, it’s increasingly important for sales and marketing to be on the same page and work together to present a united front and achieve sales success. Alignment and communication lead to greater team morale, which has a positive impact on the pipeline.
Misalignment leads to inefficiency and unproductivity
Less than 1/3 of a sales person’s time goes to core selling. For example, a CMO study found that up to 40% of a sales rep’s time is spent looking for or creating content to share with prospects.
With proper alignment and communication, marketing can arm the sales team with the latest content, research, and industry info so that sales can then be more responsive, resulting in an almost 40% increase in closed deals and an approximately 51% decrease in churn.
How to Improve Communication
These scenarios demonstrate just why sales and marketing alignment and communication should be a priority for any B2B organization. Read ahead to learn 4 steps to getting started:
Attain support from leadership and incorporate it into corporate culture
Alignment endeavors will be more effective on an organization-wide level, with support and participation from sales and marketing leadership. According to HBR, “The higher the organizational level at which managers define a problem or a need, the greater the probability of a successful implementation.”
In setting the precedence for transparency and the sharing of information between departments, alignment and communication will become ingrained in the culture. While it may seem as if the sales and marketing departments have different objectives, the two are actually working toward the same goal: driving revenue.
Implement technology to support alignment and communication
Technology use needs to be consistent, accessible, and easily incorporated into both departments’ workflows. A sales enablement tool improves marketing and sales communication by using real-time data to determine what content is most effective at progressing deals and generating the highest ROI and then surfacing recommended content based on the Salesforce record, right in the CRM and email.
This allows sales reps to deliver the right message at the right time and will enable them to remain focused on sales objectives. It also offers insight into what works and where there are gaps in the content library, so that marketing can better focus their time and optimize efforts. With this type of information, both departments can make informed decisions about strategy and process.
Align around the same metrics
Marketing is traditionally measured on top-of-funnel metrics, such as lead generation, brand awareness, and campaign performance. Sales are traditionally measured on bottom-of-the-funnel metrics, such as the revenue generated, the number of deals closed, and renewals / upsells. But when both departments are measured based on pipelines, it’s easier for them to work with each other rather than against each other – they can share priorities and goals.
Create a closed-loop feedback system
The best way for organizations to increase their bottom line is to work smarter. For example, use metrics to determine which pieces of content are most effective in extending the reach of your message and have the greatest success in helping to close deals. Perhaps most importantly, sales and marketing need to maintain a continuous feedback loop.
This ‘share economy of knowledge’ depends on sharing rather than hoarding content and feedback. For example, sales reps are on the front lines, talking to prospects and customers on a daily basis. They gain insights into pain points, challenges, and needs that should be shared with marketing so that they can create relevant content.