The divide between Marketing and Sales is legendary, and most companies have experienced it to some degree at one point or another. The fact that it is so pervasive in corporate culture suggest two things: one, the problem is rooted in human nature and two, we won’t or don’t know how to fix it. Numerous methods have been suggested to try to overcome the differences, including everything from CRM to lead nurturing systems to comprehensive process reviews, but since the problem persists, you have to draw the conclusion that these solutions have proven to be, for the most part, ineffective.
Yet closing the gap is extremely important, considering that Marketo has found that companies with an aligned sales and marketing strategy are 67 percent better at closing deals, but if efforts are unbalanced or departments don't communicate it can hurt business growth. Much can be done to alleviate some of the key issues. Particularly, enabling Sales to have more successful and engaging conversations with prospects and customers, based on insight gleaned from Marketing’s content.
Marketing has traditionally been tasked with generating and nurturing leads, while Sales takes those leads and closes them, generating revenue for the company. Both, however, should be in the business of cultivating relationships with potential customers. Sales enablement efforts should focus on messaging and collateral that attracts and enhances those relationships.
“What you ultimately want from a buyer is not a sale, but a relationship.” —The Difference Between Sales and Marketing by James Heaton, The Tronvig Group
The Sales and Marketing partnership must be a symbiotic one to accomplish that goal, each relying on feedback from the other in order to establish and implement the required processes. In order to be effective, marketing needs to be top-of-mind and easily accessible to the salesperson. 19.8 percent of business time – the equivalent of one day per working week – is wasted by employees searching for information to do their job effectively,” according to Interact. (Source: A Fifth of Business Time is Wasted Searching for Information). This extends to salespeople trying to find relevant marketing for conversations with customers. 7 hours per week is what the average sales person spends looking for relevant content to prepare for sales calls. (Source: 5 Steps to Bridging the Sales and Marketing Gap by Jennifer Adams). That has two chilling effects: it costs the company by wasting time that could be used in more valuable activities and it means that relevant, helpful conversations with the client aren’t happening.
According to Symmettrics, “by developing a structured planning and communication process, sales can build its brand knowledge and provide more in-depth, value-focused information for its customers. Marketing can focus on managing brands and creating meaningful value propositions, while engaging in collaborative knowledge transfer with the sales team.” There is no better place to make this happen than in the sales coaching arena. Implementing a robust sales coaching culture that includes marketing in the mix can provide numerous benefits:
- Better visibility between departments and job functions
- Quicker decision-making
- Improved marketing campaigns and sales processes
- Focus points for marketing material distribution
- Forum for learning messaging
- Discussion of current marketing efforts
- Feedback enablement
From a marketing perspective, this helps ensure uniformity of messaging, adoption of collateral, and reduction in one-off requests from salespeople. From the sales point of view, it builds trust, fosters better communication, reduces time spent searching for marketing materials, and builds a sense of camaraderie between teams. It helps Sales prioritize their time, providing them with information to accelerate and optimize their actions and share a complete view of the customer.
According to the Marketo webinar The Secret to Sales and Marketing Alignment, such alignment can help businesses:
- Get 67% higher probability that marketing-generated leads will close
- Experience 108% better lead acceptance
- Generate 209% stronger contribution to revenue from marketing-generated leads
More importantly, alignment enables building relationships with the customer by presenting a unified, consistent message with an integrated delivery of relevant content. Understanding and using sales enablement tools is a coachable skill, and a strong coaching culture provides a structured cadence for reviewing marketing materials and providing feedback through the appropriate channels.
“Every success grows from the collaboration and free exchange of ideas, because you can't serve the customer right when your best people are working blind.” - Marshall Lager (@Lager), Third Idea Consulting
Alignment, then, is a key factor in establishing and providing for customer relationships. Given the additional benefits to efficiency and revenue, achieving alignment using the sales coaching platform is key to any company’s success.