Time and energy spent chasing different prizes and valuing different elements of the journey serve no purpose for either camp. And will almost certainly lead to lost opportunities, smaller pipelines and reduced revenue. All of which is likely to impact trust and encourage finger pointing.
If you’re lucky enough to work in an organisation where marketing and sales are on the same page, you’ll know first hand how beneficial it can be.
At MVF our sales and marketing teams work hand-in-hand on the same projects, and this means instances of friction and misalignment are very few and far between. With everyone eying the same goals, we’re able to ensure we move forward with confidence and support across the board.
These five must-dos ensure we’re running as efficiently as possible. And they are very likely to help you ease any tensions that may exist in your organisation.
1: Sharing objectives
Perhaps the most fundamental imperative on the list, ensuring both teams are working towards the same objectives is the best way of encouraging operational alignment.
In reality this can involve a great many considerations; ranging from simply ensuring lead definitions are commonly held, to working on shared lists of priority prospects.
Regularly reviewing progress and performance in relation to the shared objectives is also key to help maximise returns. In these sessions it’s often best to leave your ego at the door – it is unlikely to help.
2: Setting priorities together
In a sales-led organisation marketers often complain of feeling like the poor relation, with directives and requests for activity being handed down from sales rather than agreed as part of an inclusive discussion. The victim mentality isn’t going to lead to meaningful change, though.
If you’re on the sales side, ensure you make the effort to include senior marketing colleagues from the off. But if you’re in marketing it’s important to make the case for inclusion, drawing on your ability to deal with the financial side of the processes as well as the campaign-side.
Apart from the obvious fact that multiple heads are better than one, strategies drawing on the knowledge of both sides are likely to be more fit for purpose when it comes to external execution and internal buy-in.
3: Meeting regularly
Ideally, you’d be co-located, meaning regular meetings are almost unavoidable. But even in scenarios where regular contact isn’t easy, it pays to have open two-way dialogues.
Discussions of all types have value: from five-minute daily stand-ups addressing immediate priorities, to weekly and monthly planning and review sessions. If both sales and marketing are able to understand the challenges the other is facing it means your chances of easing the load and moving forward positively dramatically increase.
Those old stereotypes tend to fall away too when you’re dealing with individuals rather than us-and-them silos.
Setting strategic priorities together is a great start, but to truly deliver as one team, it’s important colleagues from each department (and at all levels of the hierarchy) work together and share the benefits of their experiences.
This could involve marketing heads joining sales colleagues on client visits and prospect pitches, as well as sales colleagues contributing to the marketing initiatives likely to lead to their next meeting.
The best sales professionals possess in-depth understanding of the market and of specific prospects and customers. The smartest marketers recognise this as a massively valuable resource to draw on.
5: Celebrating success
If you’re able to put into place some of these initiatives, you should be celebrating smashing targets and recording meaningful growth. At that point it pays to celebrate.
Regardless of how it’s done, if marketing and sales are able to celebrate success together the bonds that brought the success about will be strengthened and likely to bear further fruit again in the future.
If handled correctly sales and marketing alignment becomes a virtuous circle. As soon as you’re able to highlight the successes brought about as a result of working in this way, the more people will believe in it, and the more willingly they will invest in the collaborative approaches that underpin it.