Are your marketing and sales teams working in harmony towards the same goal? Or are they operating in separate silos, working on their own agendas and missing out on valuable opportunities to move buyers down your funnel?
Marketing and sales alignment is a critical factor in today's business landscape, but achieving it is easier said than done. Aligned teams perform better and work more effectively, making it the holy grail of these teams. However, many organizations struggle to stay aligned due to factors such as distributed workforces, fluctuating market dynamics, and office politics. Overcoming sales and marketing misalignment is necessary to secure long-term success, regardless of the root cause.
In this guide, we'll explore the benefits of alignment and provide practical tips on how to get your sales and marketing teams working together towards a common goal.
What is a Sales Funnel?
The sales funnel a marketing model that centers on the customer and illustrates their journey from realizing a need to making a purchase decision. This progression of leads from prospects to customers highlights the various stages of the sales process, from building awareness to taking action.
Why are Sales Funnels Important?
If your sales process is struggling and converting prospects to customers feels like an impossible feat, consider it a warning sign that your sales funnel needs attention.
It's crucial to put yourself in your customer's shoes and fully comprehend their buying journey from start to finish to optimize your selling process. The solution to this roadblock is a well-designed sales funnel.
You must carefully consider and craft engaging experiences for each stage of your sales funnel. By doing so, you can:
- Understand your customer's buying journey: Discovering where your customers find you is key to improving conversions. Do they discover you through social media, Google searches, webinars, in-person events, referrals, outbound sales, or some other touchpoint? You can track how many of them move to the next stage of the funnel and use the right type of content at the right time and through the right channels to optimize the sales process.
- Create a personalized experience at every stage: To rely on a "one size fits all" approach is no longer feasible for the modern sales process. In today's market, buyers anticipate a personalized experience, and the only solution to meet their expectations is to carefully map out the buyer's journey and establish trust and strong relationships with potential customers.
- Focus on the right new leads: Having a sales funnel is necessary to focus sales efforts on the right prospects because not every product is suitable for everyone. Companies can use lead generation to reach prospective customers early in their buying journey, build a relationship, and stay top of mind when they decide to make a purchase. Constantly testing different lead generation ideas is essential to find what works best for the business. Different tools, such as blog content, educational videos, podcasts, ebooks, guides, and webinars, can attract ideal customers and guide them through the sales funnel until they are ready to buy.
- Overcome sales objections: The sales process isn't always smooth. You'll face objections more often than not. But rather than viewing objections as obstacles, you should utilize them as an opportunity to learn more about your prospect's needs and optimize your sales funnel based on the knowledge you collect during interactions with potential customers. Your sales funnels should provide answers to various questions at different stages of the sales funnel and help you overcome sales objections.
- Create alignment between sales and marketing: Businesses often face challenges with aligning their marketing and sales departments, which can be a major pain point. By using a sales funnel, you can map out the entire customer journey and develop a robust sales pipeline that enables you to convert more customers.
What is Sales and Marketing Alignment?
Sales and marketing alignment is a shared system of communication, strategy, and goals that enable marketing and sales to operate as a unified organization. Working together, aligned teams can deliver high-impact marketing activities, boost sales effectiveness, and ultimately grow revenue.
Historically, sales and marketing have worked in "silos" — that is to say, segmented from one another. Marketing would own the top of the funnel and sales would own the bottom. Once a lead was ready for sales, it could be handed off and, in many cases, would never hear from marketing again.
This linear process is no longer possible in today's world. Customers are constantly engaging with brands long before they purchase and well after a deal closes. Clunky handoffs and duplicate communications can sour a buyer's perception of your business — and result in lost revenue. Instead, successful organizations must now approach alignment as a necessary key factor in delivering a seamless customer experience.
The Benefits of Aligning Sales and Marketing
Misaligned sales and marketing teams have been a persistent problem across industries, leading to inefficient processes and content creation without clear objectives. So below, we'll cover the top benefits you'll gain when sales and marketing align, which leads to sustainable company growth.
Accurate Buyer Personas
Aligning sales and marketing ensures more accurate buyer personas by encouraging collaboration and information sharing between the two teams. By working together, sales and marketing teams can combine their knowledge and data to create a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of the target audience. Sales teams can provide insights into the specific pain points and challenges that prospects face during the sales process, while marketing teams can share their research on customer demographics, behavior, and preferences. With a complete understanding of the target audience, sales and marketing teams can create more effective and personalized marketing campaigns, messaging, and sales strategies that resonate with potential buyers.
Stay Ahead of the Competition
When marketing and sales teams work together, they can create a more accurate representation of their target audience through the development of buyer personas. These personas help the teams to understand their customers' needs, behaviors, and pain points, which in turn can lead to better-targeted marketing campaigns and more effective sales strategies.
Furthermore, sales and marketing alignment can help companies to identify new market opportunities and stay on top of industry trends. By sharing insights and data, both teams can work together to create more comprehensive strategies that are focused on the customer journey. This results in a more consistent message across all touchpoints and a more effective sales funnel.
By eliminating silos and creating a shared vision, companies can streamline processes and create a more efficient workflow. This enables them to react quickly to changing market conditions and adapt their strategies accordingly.
According to HubSpot, the misalignment between sales and marketing teams leads to a massive loss of $1 trillion annually. The primary reason for this is that 79 percent of leads fail to convert into sales due to a lack of proper nurturing. Additionally, 73 percent of leads that get passed to sales teams are never contacted.
On the other hand, HubSpot has also found that companies with excellent sales and marketing alignment close 38 percent more deals and achieve 27 percent faster three-year profit growth. These companies also attain 208 percent higher revenue compared to organizations with disconnected marketing and sales teams.
Sales and marketing alignment is critical to increasing revenue for a company. When sales and marketing teams work together seamlessly, they can create a cohesive strategy that targets the right customers with the right messaging. This alignment can help ensure that marketing efforts are focused on generating high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers.
By working together to create a streamlined sales funnel, marketing can ensure that the leads they generate are being properly nurtured and handed off to sales at the right time. This can reduce the amount of time and resources that sales teams spend on leads that are not yet ready to buy, allowing them to focus on closing deals with high-quality leads that are more likely to result in revenue.
In addition, sales and marketing alignment can help identify areas where the sales process can be streamlined or optimized, leading to a shorter sales cycle and faster revenue growth.
How to Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams
We have provided seven steps that can assist you in aligning sales and marketing teams within your organization, ultimately improving how your company communicates with and handles customers.
1. Create a Single Customer Journey
To achieve alignment between sales and marketing departments, restructuring the entire customer journey is a good starting point. It's important to create a single-brand customer experience rather than having separate siloed experiences for prospects. This means connecting every stage of the customer journey, from the awareness stage at the top of the funnel to the brand loyalty stage at the bottom. By doing so, the prospect's journey can be tracked across the entire funnel.
However, the top business challenge for companies attempting to create a single customer experience is getting a holistic view of the customer. This is where technology comes in. The most effective technologies used by companies with high sales and marketing alignment are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, email marketing, analytics, and marketing automation.
CRM software provides a 360-degree view of a customer, allowing teams to act quickly and decisively to deliver more value to prospects at every stage of their journey. By putting the right systems and technologies in place, sales and marketing teams can bridge the gap between marketing data gathered about a prospect and their transformation into leads and sales opportunities.
2. Agree on a Customer Persona
In sales and marketing, understanding your target audience is crucial for success. Without a clear idea of your ideal customer, your strategies may be ineffective and your teams may be disconnected. Sales may be targeting anyone with money, while marketing may have a more targeted approach. It's important to create an ideal customer persona document together to align sales and marketing teams. This document will help you identify the type of customer your business should be targeting based on factors such as company size, experience, and industry.
By collaborating, you can gain a better understanding of your ideal customers, their needs, and their biggest challenges. Failing to understand their needs and challenges is a common reason why companies fail to acquire potential customers. The ideal customer persona should be a living document that is shared and discussed by both sales and marketing teams.
3. Use a "marketing-first" approach
If sales and marketing are not aligned, they may have conflicting strategies that can lead to negative consequences. Marketing might create a campaign targeting a particular group of customers, while the sales team might cold call or email a different group of customers. This can be detrimental because prospects are less likely to respond positively to a cold call or sales email if they have never heard of the company before.
However, successful sales and marketing teams take a different approach by prioritizing marketing. They find or target potential customers who have a specific problem and show them how their product or service can solve it. This process begins with marketing warming up and nurturing new leads by sharing information on the product and its features and benefits. Then, when the lead is fully informed and ready to make a decision, the sales team can step in to reinforce the marketing message and close the deal.
4. Track Joint KPIs
Sales and marketing teams are typically evaluated using different metrics, which can create a challenge in aligning their efforts. Sales teams are often measured based on the number of new accounts, deals closed, or contract renewals, while marketing teams are evaluated based on lead quantity, quality, and brand awareness. This misalignment can cause friction between the teams and hinder their effectiveness.
It's critical to establish joint key performance indicators (KPIs) that both sales and marketing teams can work towards. By doing so, the teams can unify around a common goal and improve their collaboration. By measuring shared metrics such as revenue growth, you can gain insights into the effectiveness of your customer acquisition funnel and identify areas for improvement. Regular meetings between sales and marketing teams can facilitate collaboration and agreement on shared KPIs.
5. Use Customer Feedback
After aligning your sales and marketing teams, one of the most effective ways to gain insights is to collect feedback directly from your customers - also known as Voice of Customer (VOC) data.
The best opportunities to gather VOC feedback are during customer service interactions and sales calls. These are ideal moments for representatives to uncover potential customer pain points and motivations for purchasing your products or services.
You can use this feedback to create new marketing messages by selecting specific phrases and refining your product or service offering. Additionally, you can gain a better understanding of what your customers appreciate about your product.
6. Build Marketing Assets to Close the Sale
Content marketing has become one of the most widely used B2B marketing strategies, with over 90% of marketers incorporating it into their digital marketing plans. When employed by both sales and marketing teams, content marketing can be highly effective in nurturing potential customers throughout the various stages of the sales funnel. However, two-thirds of sales representatives are unsure about which content to share with prospects, leading to wasted content creation efforts.
This is one of the most common complaints voiced by sales teams, which is why it's no surprise that the most significant difference between aligned and misaligned sales and marketing teams is that high-alignment organizations ensure that sales teams know precisely how to use the content.
When sales and marketing teams are in sync, content is used in a more strategic manner, rather than being randomly distributed. Marketing can develop content assets such as whitepapers, product sheets, or benchmark reports that sales teams can use to move prospects through the funnel. Marketing can then continue to create content that guides customers from one stage to the next in the sales process.
It's helpful to hold frequent meetings between sales and marketing teams to discuss new content to educate sales teams on how to effectively use the content. Another way to help salespeople comprehend how to use content is by letting them contribute their ideas to the new content development process. There's no better method to gain sales support for new content than by having them generate ideas on their own!
7. Join Forces to Improve Customer Retention
Aligning your sales and marketing teams not only helps to attract new leads and convert them into customers, but it also offers numerous benefits for growing and retaining customers.
While acquiring new customers is important, it's much more cost-effective to retain existing ones. By collaborating closely, sales and marketing teams can work together to increase the lifetime value of your customers.
For instance, after securing a new customer, your marketing team should focus on nurturing and expanding the customer relationship. This can involve encouraging them to try new products, upgrade their current product, or purchase additional licenses. Your sales team can be on hand to support this effort at any point.
Align to Win
Aligning your marketing and sales teams is crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of your sales funnel. By working together, both teams can create a cohesive message that resonates with potential customers, nurture leads through the funnel, and ultimately drive conversions. By implementing the strategies and best practices outlined in this blog, you can improve your company's bottom line and build lasting relationships with your customers.