Sales and marketing alignment – if they aren’t aligned then who wins?

Sales and marketing alignment

Sales and marketing alignment is so often an after thought, if it’s a thought at all. How many of these do you recognise?

“What are marketing doing? I have huge targets to hit and they are worrying about the font and colour of the corporate presentation. Why aren’t we getting any well qualified leads through that I can get in there and close?”

“We’re trying to run these campaigns, and yet sales won’t give us the data to add to our mailing list. If they don’t provide their customer and prospect contact details, we can’t be expected to generate the demand they want. I just don’t understand why they don’t want to work with us more.”

“The slides created by marketing aren’t quite right. I’ve added my own slides, and changed a few of the facts and figures around. It’s better now. I don’t understand why marketing don’t just give us what we need. They don’t seem to get what it’s like in sales.”

“Whatever we give sales, it’s never good enough. They complain and then change the material we provide them. We must have at least 50 different versions of the new corporate story by now. How are we supposed to ensure that the messaging is right when they treat everything as the Wild West?”

This is something I have faced throughout my career. As a sales person I looked at marketing and wondered what on earth they were doing that was relevant for me, and as a marketer I saw sales protecting their own customers, data, and environment and keeping me out.

The bottom line is that sales and marketing have exactly the same ultimate objective – to sell more services to existing customers and to attract new logos. The problem is that they are two different types of character, with two different sets of process goals along the way to the ultimate joint goal.

Aligning sales and marketing (and product) and creating greater collaboration helps to speed up the journey towards attaining the new business needed. Imagine both sales and marketing collaborating fully on lead generation initiatives, follow up with the prospect or customer, and on the development of messaging and campaigns. A sales person is likely to know more about the customer challenges and environment than anyone else in the organisation, and marketing are crying out for that information in order to develop more targeted messaging and campaigns. Marketing are the custodians of the messaging and collateral, so sales being involved at its creation stage would greatly enhance the effectiveness of any material, or campaign.

I work with sales and marketing teams to align their goals and working practices through joint workshops, followed by one-to-one coaching. I also bring new technologies to them that can act as catalysts, or the common watering hole, around which both teams can gather to further their joint ambition to generate more business. If you could do with a look at your sales and marketing alignment then I can help you develop common ground, better working practices, and a lead to opportunity process that everyone is happy to support.

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Forget the customer value and forget any ROI

Customer Value

One thing I have learned is that if you forget the customer value, you can kiss goodbye to your ROI. How does the following resonate with you?

The guys from product have just come up with a new feature release. They tell you it means that customers can see their data in seven new ways, and that they can do all of that through a self-service portal. The product guys are pleased with themselves because the self-service portal pushes a number of things onto the customer, meaning that they have less manual work to do. They go on to tell you about the 17 new features and how technically cool they are. ‘Wow’, you think, ‘these guys really know how to create some great features.’

You leave with a list of things that the product does today that it didn’t do yesterday. Things you can tell your customers about. They are bound to think they are as cool as the product guy did, after all they buy technology all the time and can surely see just how great these are.

You spend thousands of dollars on a campaign to boost the awareness of the new features, and feel great because you’re meeting your objectives of having new stuff to talk about to customers, and will generate at least 20% of your annual MQL from this one campaign alone.

A couple of weeks later you have your head in your hands, and are in front of the CMO, trying to explain why your open rate was low, and the click through rate non-existent. Your ROI looks shot on this campaign, and your CMO is not happy. Not one bit.

As you crawl back to your desk, you try to work out what went wrong. The features were cool, but no-one seemed interested. You call your colleague and coach for their advice. After a few minutes listening silently, they ask you, “What does the customer need?”. You stop short and don’t have an answer. It’s then that you realise your mistake. Instead of focusing on the customer’s need and relating this back to your new features, you simply went ahead and pushed a load of meaningless things at them.

I see this scenario almost every day. Product, Marketing, and Sales not well aligned around the customer. And let’s be clear, the only reason you sell products or services is because a customer perceives that they address their requirements, be those opportunities or problems. Smart companies centre their product, proposition, and offering development around customer needs. Positioning then becomes easy. If you really understand your customer’s business, their needs, and market challenges, you can tailor your offering accordingly. If you then understand your purchaser’s persona, you can tailor your messaging to address their needs.

I work with clients to develop a deeper understanding of their customers through workshops, developing user scenarios, and mapping customer needs to the portfolio, so that they accelerate their sales and marketing performance, and deliver the ROI that the CMO needs to see. Focusing on customer value is key.