A Practical Guide to Aligning Marketing & Sales

by Sabrina Balmick, Marketing Manager, ACA Talent

It’s no secret that sales and marketing departments don’t always see eye-to-eye with one another. Sales sometimes thinks marketing focuses on fluff, rather than figures, while marketing sometimes thinks sales hogs all the credit, but none of the blame.

With these attitudes, it’s easy to see why distrust and a lack of respect permeate marketing and sales departments and create a culture of competition, rather than teamwork.

Sometimes this competitive model works; other times, it backfires, and revenue suffers. Because marketing and sales really are opposite sides of the same coin, the two are naturally stronger when they work together. As the Harvard Business Review notes, companies with closely-aligned sales and marketing groups benefit from shorter sales cycles, as well as lower costs of sales.

Here are a few things marketing and sales teams can do to stay on track with revenue targets, without strangling each other.

Get your story straight

Your marketing message helps you distinguish your product or service from the competition, so it pays for everyone to be on the same page. Marketers should take time to observe sales calls to see how the message is being communicated and where it might need to be adjusted, and work with their sales teams to craft a message that truly speaks to customers.

Plan together

The company’s marketing and sales plans are roadmaps to revenue, so they should complement and support each other. One way to accomplish this is to involve both departments in drafting these plans. Sales brings a real-time understanding of what customers actually want, while marketing can create deliverables that help convert those needs into leads. With both groups working together, marketing and sales plans can bring revenue generation into sharp focus.

Build things that matter

Marketing: Having the greatest PowerPoint presentation in the world or the slickest brochures doesn’t matter if your sales team doesn’t use them or your customers don’t care about them. Get in the sales and operations trenches and figure out what makes your customers tick, what information they value, and how they want it presented.

Sales: Use your marketing group as a resource when it comes to putting together sales letters, presentations, and mailing campaigns. It’ll keep you both from duplicating efforts and focused on the business of selling.

Share your toys

Marketing: Sales depends on you for the latest and greatest client material, so keep your internal content libraries updated. When a sales person is down to the wire and trying to close a deal quickly, it doesn’t pay to have to hunt around for the latest logo or contract boilerplate. Work with your sales team to implement a filing system so everyone can find the content they need when they need it.

Sales: Don’t keep a stranglehold on your CRM data. It’s a wealth of information when it comes to creating marketing plans, positioning products, and engaging customers. While you’re on the front lines with current customers, marketing can work on the backend warming up new prospects with things like direct mail and social media. But your marketing team can’t do any of this without access to the right information, so loosen up a bit.

No one gets there alone

In the end, we’re all here for a common goal: to grow the business. Sales does this directly: by working with customers all day, every day. Marketing prefers the indirect approach: by building the brand and spreading the word. Both are valuable ways of acquiring new customers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. While it’s possible to grow the business by going down these two separate paths, wouldn’t we get there twice as fast if we all worked together?