A return to the office, face-to-face meetings, and settling back into old styles of communication is likely to be expected in the following weeks and months. But almost 18 months of working from home, cracking on with solo projects and many, many Zoom meetings has left us stale. One thing we've all been missing is collaboration.
Sales and marketing teams will have been feeling the effects of this just as much as anyone. Collaboration is crucial for sales and marketing teams wanting to bring in more prospects and close more sales.
When sales and marketing work together, your entire sales process is aligned, and everyone is working towards the same goals with clarity, transparency, and results. According to LinkedIn, 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables business growth.
So how can you begin to optimise your sales enablement process?
The differences between sales and marketing teams are often quite apparent. Marketers tend to be detail-oriented, analytical and focused on competitive advantage, while salespeople are skilled relationship builders, spending the majority of their time speaking to prospects and aiming to close a sale. This is unfortunately where collaboration gets neglected and misalignment occurs.
“There is no question that, when Sales and Marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.” Harvard Business Review
The fact is, customers no longer want to be sold to, or talked at. The customer journey was changing even before the pandemic, and following the lockdown, customers are becoming savvier and more confident with independent research. Face-to-face selling has reduced as a result, and online selling is evolving.
So, how can marketing align their tactics to support the sales team's strategies and vice versa?
To optimise your sales and marketing teams’ collaborative efforts, a good starting point would be to focus on the following:
Shared data on prospects and targeted accounts
Shared data needs to be at the centre of all marketing and sales efforts. Information on where a prospect is within the buyer’s journey, how much contact they’ve had with team members and what content they have downloaded will be fundamental in informing your next steps.
Having a CRM that enables both teams this visibility is the first step. But also ensuring the use of said CRM is aligned. Both need to be updating the CRM diligently with lead nurturing information, time spent on a client and all touchpoints.
If ABM is a part of your strategy, regular meetings about potential targeted accounts should be attended by both teams, so strategies can be harmonised to satisfy the requirements of targeted accounts.
Sharing tools such as Slack, HubSpot and Acello allow for the visibility needed for effective collaboration. HubSpot details and stores information about every individual on the system, including email threads and content downloads.
Communication between teams
Encouraging informal and casual communication can help facilitate more natural collaboration. When it happens naturally, it makes the sales process more streamlined, efficient, and moves the customer along the sales funnel faster. Monthly or even weekly meetings will become a fundamental part of your process with an optimised sales enablement process.
A lack of cohesion can be costly. 90% of sales and marketing professionals agree that when their messages are misaligned, customer experience is negatively impacted.
Marketing will be busy working on strategies to successfully engage prospects and move them along the funnel. And once a prospect becomes a sales qualified lead, that touchpoint needs to be seamless. Marketing needs to be made aware of a lead’s pain points so that they can deliver quality leads to the sales team at the right time.
This is a crucial time and one misaligned communication can leave the prospect losing confidence in your company.
Consistent communication between teams will ensure transparency and consistency at every touchpoint. Refining the entire process and becoming more customer-centric.
Understanding what's required of each other
In the pursuit of growth, your resources are precious and costly. Identify your sales funnel and any friction points, then pinpoint who is expected to focus where.
When mutual understanding occurs, resources can be allocated more efficiently and in alignment. If sales are regularly in contact with prospects who have recurring questions or queries, these concerns should be fed back to the marketing team. You could even have marketing sit in on sales calls so they can pick out recurring friction points or questions, and use them to create targeted content including blog posts and email nurturing. But again, this will be a collaborative effort. Once those expectations are put in place during monthly and weekly meetings, they’ll form the basis of your process.
In the wake of 'Freedom Day', whether your teams are returning to the office, full-time, part-time or not at all, independent working may have become the favoured approach. But it's more important than ever that we do not lose sight of collaboration.
Collaborative efforts throughout the customer journey, ensuring cohesion, alignment and understanding, will make for a more refined and satisfying experience for the customer. It will also empower your representatives to smash goals and maximise results. When efforts, tools and teams are focused more efficiently, sales and marketing are both in a better position to move and close leads.