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8 Genius Steps to Align Your Sales and Marketing Strategy in 2018

Posted by John Aikin
on January 17, 2018

Sales and marketing alignment is vital for organizational success, and not just for boosting morale. The sales and marketing strategies examples we've discussed in other blogs go through that in detail.

According to The Payoffs of Improved Sales & Marketing Alignment, US businesses lose $1 trillion a year.

This is due to wasted productivity because of misaligned sales and marketing strategies. Glad we're not those guys, right?

For your business, that could mean as much as 60 percent weaker financial performance.

It could also mean a 58 percent reduction in customer retention, among other negative factors.

It's not all uncomfortable news, though.

When teams work together via seamless sales and marketing plans, they are unstoppable.

Here's what you need to do to align your teams for success.

1. Ensure open collaboration between the departments.

Teams can't align if they don't work together.

Begin helping your business teams work as one larger unit by encouraging them to be open and transparent.

Sales and marketing leaders and teams should meet regularly to track shared goals and communicate freely about workflow, obstacles and wins.

Leadership within each team and outside of the departments can foster a collaborative environment rather than an us-versus-them atmosphere.

2. Clearly define what leads are in your organization.

Marketing and sales must have the same definition of quality leads.

Inbound marketing ideas fall flat if they target leads that sales doesn't consider qualified. In return, sales spins its wheels, sending leads back into the queue if they don't start moving.

Gather your teams together to document what a lead is. Then you must define what a marketing qualified lead, a sales qualified lead and an opportunity are.

Once you create those definitions, decide how each team should administrate each type of lead.

3. Document the hand-off process from marketing to sales.

Your sales strategy can't start working if qualified leads don't make it from marketing to sales in a timely manner.

At the same time, if marketing is rushing leads just to feed the sales queue, you could see a lower conversion rate.

Avoid these issues by documenting a process that identifies when marketing has completed its job and sales should enter the picture.

Then ensure everyone in both departments know what the hand-off looks like and when it's appropriate for various types of leads.

4. Work together to define an ideal buyer.

Both teams need to have the same concept of the target market.

If the target audience concept is disparate between sales and marketing, the chasm between the two departments can't be bridged even with the best software and leadership.

Working together to create an ideal buyer profile ensures marketing teams create content and develop a strategy for website conversion that drives the right kind of leads — those that make the best-fit clients.

5. Develop service level agreements between the two teams.

One way to ensure your new sales and marketing strategy continues to work after you develop it is to back the original plan with service level agreements.

Develop SLAs for both sides of the equation so marketing knows how many marketing qualified leads sales expects each week, month or quarter and sales knows what actions must be taken immediately (or within a short amount of time) when an MQL comes down the funnel. 

6. Create a process for sending leads back to marketing for triage.

Leads don't just move one way in a good marketing and sales process.

Just as you built a hand-off process for leads to enter sales from marketing, build a process to pump poor or incomplete leads back up the funnel.

Leads — even ones sales deems not worthy at the current time — shouldn't be tossed in the trash.

Returning them to marketing lets teams:

  • Constantly communicate so lead processes are always being made stronger
  • Triage leads that may turn out to be value assets in the future
  • Avoid wasted time by learning from or reworking leads that don't make the first cut

7. Incorporate a CRM for efficiency.

As you can see, aligning sales and marketing teams involves a lot of back-and-forth communication and processes.

Without the right infrastructure, things can devolve quickly into chaos (or at least frustrating confusion).

Incorporate a CRM to track your leads and facilitate controlled, visible movement through the entire funnel.

HubSpot's free CRM is a great tool if you don't have one, and you can make use of HubSpot templates so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

8. Leverage dashboard reporting for real-time visibility into the funnel.

Finally, once you have all the communication and workflow tools defined and in place, build a dashboard for real-time reporting on all levels of marketing and sales activity.

A transparent look into your funnel lets you make data-backed decisions across the entire sales and marketing environment to increase sales and ensure long-term success.

It also lets you know quickly if sales and marketing teams are falling out of alignment and where the challenges might be.

Aligning your sales and marketing teams isn't just a good idea for business housekeeping.

It's a move that will position you for more success in an ever-changing market.

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