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Enhancing Sales and Marketing Collaboration Through Strategic Alignment and Technological Integration

November 16, 2023
Enhancing Sales and Marketing Collaboration Through Strategic Alignment and Technological Integration

The sales and marketing teams are vital to an organization’s growth, especially when they collaborate. Surprisingly, many companies view these key departments separately, sometimes preventing them from creative collaboration. The result is often a lack of communication between salespeople and marketers, which can sometimes hinder an enterprise’s ability to achieve goals instead of enhance it. 

Discover the case for marketing and sales collaboration, as well as techniques and technologies to support better strategic alignment.

Decoding the Current State of Sales and Marketing Relationships 

The relationship between sales and marketing teams looks different in each business. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, this relationship can serve or impede a company’s goals. To make sense of this relationship and how misalignment occurs, it’s necessary to understand the major differences between sales and marketing and how each contributes to the customer journey. 

The Key Differences Between Sales and Marketing 

Marketing comes before sales. It’s about generating awareness of the brand and products/services among the target audience. Teams focus on developing creative campaigns to capture the attention of a wider audience and explain why consumers should consider investing in the company’s products/services. 

The purpose of engaging the target audience with marketing is to increase the number of potential leads. This is where sales steps in. Sales teams take these leads and work on converting them into buyers. Whereas marketing teams are interacting with the wider audience, salespeople typically work one-on-one with prospective customers, explaining how the products/services meet their needs. 

Sales teams also create sales plans detailing the goals of sales initiatives, including the steps to take and the resources needed to achieve them. They figure out how much of a particular product or service needs to be sold to reap a profit.


The Relationship Between Sales and Marketing 

The sales and marketing relationship can be best understood through the lens of the typical customer journey. Sales teams often organize this progression using a sales funnel. The sales funnel features different stages that represent the growing relationship a customer has with the brand. 

The first two stages are Awareness and Discovery. It’s here where marketing teams play the largest role. As mentioned, marketers devise creative materials, such as social media posts and blogs, email marketing, or interactive content, to make consumers aware of the brand and its offerings. Consumers aren’t ready to buy at this point, so marketing teams won’t make direct sales pitches. Instead, they’ll share industry knowledge that responds to their consumers’ pain points. 

The next phase is Discovery. Prospective customers want to know more about the company. Marketers create content that more directly expresses how the brand’s products/services solve their problems. Still, marketers won’t want to pitch sales — the goal is to provide enough engaging content to push leads to the next phase. 

Sales encompasses the remaining stages — evaluation, intent, and purchase. During Evaluation, prospects are scrutinizing the company, its products/services, and how these compare to competitors. They aren’t ready to make a purchase but want to begin a relationship with the company, and the sales team comes in to begin nurturing that relationship. 

At the Intent stage, the prospect wants to purchase your products/services, but first wishes to confirm it meets their needs and comes at a price that suits their budget. It’s at this point that the sales team convinces the lead that the product/service is the best option.

Finally, the customer is ready to buy. The Purchase stage is when salespeople make the sales pitch. Special offers, discounts, package bundles, and social proof like customer testimonials all help persuade the prospect that your product/service is worth the price. 

The sales funnel highlights the different interactions prospects have with marketing and sales teams throughout the customer journey, but it also stresses the need for these departments to work together. Otherwise, the bottom of the funnel will shrink and businesses will struggle to generate quality leads that turn into loyal customers.


The Risks of Not Having Your Sales and Marketing Teams Aligned 

Sales and marketing teams can work extremely well together, but certain relationship dynamics can inhibit this collaboration. One of the most challenging is the combative relationship. This occurs when new sales aren’t meeting expectations. 

Sales managers sometimes question why marketing teams didn’t generate qualified leads. Marketing managers will counter this claim by pointing out that the leads were good, but the sales team dropped the ball with the sales portion. This can lead to an endless back and forth, with both teams feeling unmotivated and frustrated. What’s more, it can have dire consequences on employee turnover and the bottom line for the company. 

Marketing and sales teams don’t need to be at odds to be ineffective. There are also subservient and siloed relationships. The subservient relationship occurs when marketing is perceived solely as support for the sales team. Marketing leaders direct teams to create collateral for sales initiatives, such as social posts or newsletters, but the marketing department isn’t seen as imperative for achieving strategic goals. As a result, the company underinvests in marketing.

Siloed sales and marketing relationships are similar to the combative type, except no inciting event caused the lack of collaboration. Teams simply don’t work together where they should. Instead, they operate in silos, with sales focusing on the customer journey and marketing concerned with brand awareness.

A lack of alignment between the sales and marketing departments does more than diminish opportunities for collaboration. It can also hinder efficiency in closing deals and prevent the business from seizing growth opportunities. These problems may cause a drop in customer retention and a loss of revenue. In short, a company that invests in a strong marketing and sales relationship invests in its long-term success. 


Strategizing for Enhanced Sales and Marketing Synchronization 

What’s at the heart of the issue is a lack of strategic alignment. Marketing and sales are the driving forces behind revenue growth. When these teams aren’t aligned and supporting each other, a business can lose its competitive advantage and the interest of potential customers. 

By prioritizing cohesive collaboration, organizations choose an integrated sales and marketing relationship where operations are synchronized and empower better business performance. A remarkable finding states when marketing and sales teams are highly aligned, more than 200% revenue growth is possible through a marketing strategy alone. 

The following details several strategic fundamentals where sales and marketing collaboration can have the most significant impact. 

Strategic Messaging Consistency 

When there’s a misalignment between sales and marketing, it becomes apparent through messaging. Email, social media, and content marketing make different claims than sales reps, causing confusion that diminishes the customer experience. 

To ensure consistent messaging, businesses must recognize the distinct role sales and marketing play. Since marketers have more industry insight, they often handle messaging alone. However, salespeople understand which types of content and keywords most resonate with the target audience, as well as their pain points, because of their frequent interactions with customers.

Measurable Metrics 

Without collaboration, key performance indicators (KPIs) contribute to a siloed relationship. Sales and marketing teams use different KPIs to measure performance. Having shared metrics helps unite these departments. While each team has specific concerns, both have a stake in brand awareness, lead generation, and closing deals. Certain KPIs, such as conversion rate and lead value, provide valuable information for marketing and sales. 

In addition to the types of shared metrics they evaluate, teams need to ensure alignment with how they report on these KPIs and from which sources they gather data to make their analyses. 

Strategic Enablement 

Enablement is ideal for formal collaboration between the marketing and sales departments because they already work together. Sales enablement occurs when marketing teams provide sales teams with the materials and resources they need to close more deals.  

Businesses can strengthen this relationship by encouraging sales teams to give feedback on the collateral marketing teams develop. Marketers consider these comments and craft materials that better meet the needs of sales reps. The result is more effective sales resources that boost revenue.

Operational Fundamentals for Sustainable Collaboration 

Beyond collaboration with each other, sales and marketing teams may come together to recommend alignment with other departments. Alignment across operational fundamentals is important for business growth. 

For instance, combined sales and marketing efforts will involve communicating with the IT department to advise IT managers on the types of technology needed to collaborate. IT teams can also help marketing and sales personnel in establishing data governance.

Leveraging Technology for Elevating Sales and Marketing Collaboration: A Unique Perspective 

Another incentive for sales and marketing collaboration is the proliferation of digital technologies altering how customers interact with businesses. Take smartphones. While hardly a new technology, smartphones have had a dramatic impact on marketing and sales. Consumers can now find marketing in their email inboxes, on social media feeds, and when browsing the web. Whether they encounter a billboard or see an ad on Instagram, mobile technology allows them to contact a sales rep quickly to learn more.  

This means that sales and marketing departments need to act efficiently to respond and close the deal. An effective solution is to integrate the technologies both teams need to support these efforts, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software. 

CRM platforms provide a centralized, digital location for keeping records of customer interactions. These include those interactions at various stages along the sales funnel, such as liking a social media post or scheduling a phone call with a sales rep. This information benefits marketers and salespeople, so departments should consider integrating their technologies to share data and keep each other on the same page. 

Another essential tool is brand asset management (BAM) software. BAM software delivers a single source for managing an organization’s visual assets where all personnel can access the most updated versions of logos, brand style guides, approved marketing materials, and other resources. Ultimately, it gives a company greater control over how the brand is represented across the efforts of all departments. 

Where does the collaboration between marketing and sales come into play? Consistent messaging can be a challenge where sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned. Salespeople may understand more specifically what interests customers, but marketers recognize industry trends. As such, branding may conflict unless both teams refer to the brand asset management tool for guidance. Most importantly, it provides a space for collaborating on branding. 

Practical Strategies for Improving Sales and Marketing Collaboration 

Sales and marketing teams ought to collaborate for many reasons, from better lead generation to maintaining a competitive advantage to increasing revenue production. Marketing and sales managers want to reap these benefits but aren’t sure how to begin. Consider these tips to foster more meaningful collaboration between the two departments: 

Host Regular Meetings 

Regular meetings between the sales and marketing teams help prevent isolating them from each other. Marketing and sales managers can decide the meeting schedule. For example, a marketing manager or a designated team member may attend weekly sales meetings to stay on top of developments within the department. The managers can meet monthly to assess the efficacy of their collaborative efforts and flesh out service-level agreements (SLAs). 

Developed a Shared Means of Communication 

Having a method for communicating daily is important, as questions or concerns come up at any point. One option is creating an email address shared between the sales and marketing manager to send and receive information pertinent to their efforts. 

Create Buyer Personas 

Marketers know how to get the attention of prospects, and sales reps understand how to transform interest into investment. By collaborating, both teams can craft more accurate buyer personas that recognize what a prospect wants at each stage of the buyer’s journey. 

Coordinate Promotions and Offers 

Marketing managers can keep sales managers in the loop by notifying them of upcoming promotions. Sales teams know the offers leads receive and adjust pricing and other aspects accordingly to ensure customer satisfaction. 

Enhance Marketing and Sales Collaboration with MarcomCentral 

Cultivating more intentional collaboration between sales and marketing teams may be the key to experiencing more growth for your business. Marketing and sales managers need to identify the current relationship dynamic between their teams, create more collaboration across strategic fundamentals, and leverage technology to support marketing campaigns and sales initiatives across numerous distribution channels. 

In addition to the tools mentioned above, businesses may consider MarcomCentral for facilitating stronger sales and marketing alignment. Our omnichannel solution provides a centralized location for managing brand assets, enabling companies to provide a more consistent brand experience. 

For marketing teams, this means fewer unauthorized marketing materials that don’t further sales goals. For sales teams, it means a smoother sales process where reps can easily access the collateral they need to push customers toward a sale. 

For more information about MarcomCentral, schedule a demo today or review case studies to see how our platform can serve your business.