Here are a few questions to ask—and what to do about the answers.
Good marketing programs define the experience they want customers to have. Superior programs then align sales, customer service, digital channels (including Websites), and operations so that customers can realize that experience. That’s why owners, chief marketing officers, sales vice presidents, and general managers are asking these three questions from a new perspective:
|•||How well are my sales and marketing channels aligned?|
|•||Does my organization fully understand how customers engage with us across our go-to-market channels?|
|•||Does my business have a single go-to-market process that ensures a consistent, superior customer experience across all channels?|
Classic marketers spend a lot of time researching what customers and prospects want and then weaving those desires into their offers and go-to-market plans. The best organizations also ensure that those plans are activated across every channel in which customers engage so that the experience is consistent and fills customer needs. That means getting sales, marketing, customer service, and operations on the same page. Never an easy task.
Enter digital marketing, sales, and customer service. Search engines, price transparency, digital marketing that integrates paid search, organic search, pay per click, social media, and others have increased both the complexity of marketing and selling—and the opportunity. But to fully realize that opportunity customer-facing team members in channels outside of digital business development must also be engaged.
Who does that? Who is checking to see if team members know what your business is doing with its digital marketing efforts? Who is ensuring that the print, digital, and sales promotions and presentations are aligned? How do you verify that alignment exists and how will you adjust the channels to realign them as circumstances change?
Here is an example of how effective alignment of marketing, sales, and service can drive increased sales.
A large national distributor partnered with a regional company and began expanding sales of its products across the country. At the regional level, in addition to product excellence, superior service was the hallmark of the regional provider. Both companies worried that national expansion would jeopardize service excellence. They were determined to make aligning sales, marketing, and field service a top priority.
But a challenge soon became apparent. The distributor’s size and national sales reach meant that it sold many products in addition to the new products. Clearly, it was critical that the distributor’s sales force understood exactly how to coordinate customer delivery expectations with the new acquisition’s operations. On the other hand, changing the sales process would affect many more product lines. Ultimately the acquired company’s operations and delivery processes were aligned with the distributor’s sales processes. That made the most sense because the distributor’s reach was much larger and because its sales approach applied to a large number of products.
Aligning marketing and field service operations with the sales organization’s process meant each function could see the alignment points as well as clear hand-off intersections to ensure that the end customer continued to have a powerful service experience. Sales teams were trained on the product, marketing literature, and how to set realistic expectations for delivery. The expansion doubled the size of the provider’s original business in less than 12 months, essentially by enabling the distributor’s national accounts sales team to gain national contracts for the regional company’s products. This capability significantly disrupted a segment of the industry to the advantage of the distributor, the product provider, and their customers.
How can better business development alignment grow your company?
A Forrester report concludes that companies with sales and marketing alignment and shared goals and metrics see a 25% increase in quota achievement, 15% increase in win rate, and a 27% faster three-year profit growth. Your marketing and sales programs can drive 36% more business growth according to SiriusDecisions; 36% higher customer retention according to MarketingProfs; 27% faster profit growth according to SiriusDecisions; 38% higher sales win rates according to MarketingProfs; and 10% more reps hitting quota when you have strong sales and marketing alignment.
Small companies need alignment, too. But how is that possible when everyone probably has multiple responsibilities and spends each day with their heads down trying to fulfill them? Here’s one idea that any size company can implement: Be sure that the content your salespeople and marketers are using—handouts, leave-behinds, product or spec sheets, e-mail or snail-mail promotions—is the same for everyone and that salespeople are likely to use it. To ensure that, bring salespeople and marketers together in the same room at the same time to develop the content. This tactic works even if you have just one salesperson and one marketer—or one-half salesperson and one-half marketer.
Once the content is agreed upon, marketing writes it up, sales reviews it, and it’s “rolled out.” In most cases that means posting it on your website, printing copies for the sales team to use in sales calls and conferences, and making sure everyone with customer contact has it handy and understands what it means. Finally, get sales and marketing together once or twice or month to compare how the content is working and whether it needs to be changed.
Key Point: Formalize this process with scheduled in-person meetings. Don’t rely on e-mail or other arms-length communication for this kind of interaction. CEOs, presidents, and owners will need to be involved, at least in the beginning.
We typically see smaller and mid-sized organization attempting to leverage a variety of traditional approaches that use internal memos, sales huddles, daily talks, or town halls to help keep workers aligned. But we still see and hear that even these classic approaches don’t fully do the job.
The reason is that, except in very small companies, they simply cannot do the heavier lifting of verifying, inspecting, measuring, and validating the quality of sales and marketing alignment. Those activities require a customized sales and marketing process, one that we can help you build in our course, “Aligning Sales and Marketing to Drive Superior Customer Experiences and Increase Sales.” Our approach is highly productive in that it helps you see what the customer sees and experiences in depth—and how to engage your people in using that perspective to improve their performance.
To learn more, just get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-977-0983. We’ll talk about your company’s goals and challenges and how superior marketing and sales alignment can help you overcome those challenges to realize your goals.
Sources: The State of Sales & Marketing Alignment in 2018, InsideView, October 2018; The Forrester Report on Sales & Marketing Alignment; “5 Steps for Aligning Marketing and Sales in Your Small Business.” The Coalition for Veteran-Owned Business (CVOB). Alex Rydzak. November 9, 2018.
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