The logic of alignment
A critical component to any organization’s success is its ability to continuously equip its client-facing team members with the capabilities, opportunities, and knowledge necessary to engage buyers in the right conversations at the right time. We call this developing commercial insights and it’s important that both sales and marketing work together. The beauty of alignment is that it allows marketing to provide for its key components: quality leads, engaging content, and relevant materials and tools, while providing sales with the story line necessary to both engage with buyers and positively affect their purchase decisions.
Lead quality is a crucial aspect that sits at the hand-off between marketing and sales. Here both departments need to reach agreement on the definition of a qualified lead. Collectively, both departments can leverage this agreement to create common, more effective and efficient goals and processes to achieve greater success.
In its purest form, an aligned organization is a cohesive system, built around a common purpose, where silos are broken down, individual needs are understood, and trust and collaboration are established in the pursuit of shared organizational goals.
But speaking practically, both sales and marketing must collaborate and converge around a closely defined process. Service level Agreements (SLAs) between sales and marketing should establish the number and quality of leads to be delivered by marketing, and the timeframe within which sales will follow-up. Such agreement will ensure that marketing isn’t simply providing leads in volume, but rather focusing on well-defined quality leads.
Agreement should also be reached on lead nurturing programs and lead scoring approaches. Common scoring criteria is vital to ensure only qualified leads are passed to sales and to determine which leads should be nurtured. And scoring must be adjusted at frequent intervals so that it supports what both teams want to occur and doesn’t become a source of friction.
Alignment in action
By starting narrowly with a few target accounts, you can identify specific (role-based) contacts on which to test and refine both your messaging and sales approach, before expanding to the larger segment. Use account-based surveys to collect the necessary market insights and customer intelligence, and agree with sales on timeframes for the effective follow-up of leads to maximize the chances of success. Continuously measure results and tweak the program as necessary to ensure repeatable wins. The overall result will yield better quality leads that sales will be pleased to follow up.
Such an approach enables marketing to become far better attuned to the needs of target customer segments, while allowing you to provide sales with appropriate intelligence – not only on existing segment challenges and needs, but also in terms of business opportunities that customers might benefit from. In this manner, marketing can help sales devise new ideas and ways of thinking to more successfully engage customers.
Aligning sales and marketing ensures that all are working towards the same outcomes efficiently and effectively, as one team. According to Sirius Decisions* and other analyst organizations, marketing in companies with strong alignment, generates more and better leads and sales achieves higher conversion rates. Ultimately, a common understanding between marketing and sales is needed, rooted in a shared strategy, and based on the one goal of engaging and converting leads successfully.
SimplyDIRECT’s account-based survey services provide the means to engage directly with C-level executives and to better understand their business and emotional needs and challenges. Armed with this customer intelligence marketing is better able to generate the content and collateral needed to meet buyer information requirements and sales is better able to foster a personal relationship by helping prospects meet their needs.
To learn more about SimplyDIRECT’s approach please download our account-based survey process infographic.
* Best Practices in Sales and Marketing Alignment, John Neeson, Sirius Decisions October 2012 – http://www.slideshare.net/B2B_Marketing/b2-b-marketing-event-john-neesonbest-practice-in-sales-and-marketing-alignment