Sales and marketing blog
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According to a Benchmark Report study, aligning sales and marketing makes businesses 67% better at closing marketing-generated leads. This is because while everybody has an opinion on what works best, determining what really helps sell and what doesn’t only happens when the two groups work together as one. The same study found that businesses are more likely to generate twice as much value from their marketing efforts when sales and marketing are aligned. To see similar results across your organization, check out and implement the best practices below.

Best Practice #1: Talk to each other

It may seem obvious, but interdepartmental conversations don’t happen as often as they should. When sales and marketing plan together, companies experience more than a 38% increase in closed deals and a 36% decrease in customer churn. The unexpected side effect is that often marketing gets to engage in more varied and interesting conversations - as well as gain a wider appreciation of how they impact the full sales cycle, not just the top of the funnel.

For both groups, regular conversations and a unified team approach eliminate many challenges that traditional sales and marketing organizations face. When marketing aligns their programs to sales campaigns and provides briefings and training on promotions in advance, sales can be prepared for questions and maximize their lead generation efforts. At the same time, sales can provide qualitative feedback in addition to what the CRM system data says to let marketing know what works and what doesn’t. So your company can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Best Practice #2: Be responsive and proactive

According to InsideSales.com, the average company only follows up on half of the inbound leads they generate, even though most companies spend 12.5% of their annual marketing budget generating those leads. But being responsive isn’t just about following up on sales leads, it’s also noticing what’s happening in the marketplace and adjusting your strategy accordingly. When marketing can arm sales with the latest research, trends, and competitive information, salespeople can proactively address these topics and avoid getting blindsided by prospects. Going back to the first point, be responsive and anticipate each group’s needs.

Best Practice #3: Learn what sells

More than half of all companies don’t formally agreed on the definition of a lead between sales and marketing and so leads are passed to sales that will rarely convert to revenue. Companies that create a single process for sales and marketing see a 31% increase in the acceptance of marketing-qualified leads. Even fewer organizations extend this collaboration further beyond an agreed lead flow into other areas in which marketing supports sales.

Consider when the content marketer begins to create a new piece of sales collateral. Sitting down with the user - key sales people - can really help with the structure and flow. If the sales team likes to walk the customer through a brochure, give them a narrative that structures the discussion logically. As another example, sales can communicate the different ways customers make purchase decisions so that marketing can provide the right materials to help close the sale.

Best Practice #4: Measure and report

Measure everything. The more you measure, the more scientific you can be about what works and what doesn’t, the more efficient you can be. If a business development team discovers that a higher percentage of leads from a certain site convert than from other sites, investing more in that site makes sense. If marketing finds that sales isn’t distributing specification sheets, they should look into why. Perhaps prospects are getting all the information they need directly from the website, so this level of detail as a separately-created and managed piece of collateral isn’t needed. Know what’s being used and talk about why. Here a sales enablement solution like Showpad will allow marketing to quantify what’s actually being used in sales meetings - and shared with prospects - instead of relying on anecdotal reports that are hard to take actions on.

Best Practice #5: Share and reward success

Always reward the behaviors and actions you want more of. When something works, let people know. If sales improves lead conversion rates or marketing creates a campaign that boosts sales, celebrate it. Add inter-team communication to your teams’ KPIs and quarterly objectives so your people know how important it is. Then celebrate and reward success. Give each other credit. Success breeds success so the more you share successes, the more success you’ll see.

As we’ve pointed out in a previous blog post, it all boils down to communication and teamwork. These five best practices for marketing and sales alignment are really about creating a team approach to increasing revenue and profit. Being responsive helps everybody stay ahead of the curve, and the more each group learns about what the other group needs, the more proactive both can be. The best part is that once it starts working, it’s easy to keep it going.


To learn more about how you can align sales and marketing, download our free “Mobilize your Marketing Content for Sales” e-book:
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Last update: August 20, 2015

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