The 'Get Along Shirt' Solution To Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

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By Vee Tardrew - June 25, 2014

As a parent of two young children, the now famous and wildly replicated ‘Get Along Shirt’ is still one of my most favourite pieces of viral content. 

The Mom - or Dad - who decided to remedy these two bickering by putting them in a creatively contained environment should, in my opinion, be given some Parent of the Year award. 

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And while perhaps not to the same extreme, the same needs to happen with our sales and marketing teams if we are to see positive business revenue and growth. In a recent Lenskold Group study they found that the majority of effective - and prosperous - companies had worked on aligning their sales and marketing teams.

5 Benefits Smarketing can offer your business

1. Targeted campaigns that prove their ROI

For marketing teams, running campaign after campaign without seeing success is a frustrating and demoralising situation. And there are many reasons why campaigns sometimes fail. These range from having the incorrect buyer personas, failing to do adequate research beforehand and delivering your content at the wrong stage of the buyer's journey – and the list goes on.

That said, many of the reasons campaigns fail could be addressed by a more symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing teams. Because sales teams deal directly with live customers, they're in an invaluable position to gather more accurate data about the target audience marketing is trying to reach. By collaborating, sales and marketing can create compelling campaigns more targeted to their buyer personas needs and pain points, and all founded on actual data gleaned from customers.

This same collaboration also gives marketing an opportunity to gather feedback on previous campaigns, facilitated by sales representatives equipped to ask the right questions. This can help highlight areas of weakness in marketing campaigns.

2. A powerful value proposition

A business's value proposition is an asset that should be utilised to the greatest extent possible. After all, it's what makes your company stand out from the rest! That said, it's an often an area that can miss the mark if proper research hasn't been done beforehand. By working together, sales and marketing teams can do more comprehensive industry and customer research, leading to better buyer persona development and an increase in the understanding of how to best position their company to stand out from the crowd.

3. Increased lead quality and conversion

When collaboration becomes a focus for sales and marketing departments, lead quality and sales conversions go up. This is due to Sales getting better quality leads from Marketing, and the ability of Marketing to create targeted, effective campaigns that turnover higher quality leads to Sales. Marketing can also boost lead conversions for Sales by building brand awareness and trust before leads even reach Sales.

Lead quality is also greatly impacted by the closed loop reporting characterised by a Smarketing approach. The backwards and forwards of properly established reports and data goes a long way in helping both teams see greater success.

4. An increase in customer satisfaction

Happy customers should be the goal of every business. A Smarketing approach ensures customers receive a consistent approach through their journey through the marketing and sales funnels. This means aligning marketing and sales activities to ensure that everything from language use and offers within campaigns to sales processes is always geared towards delivering the perceived value to the customer. By meeting and exceeding customer expectations through teamwork, Sales and Marketing are more likely to build brand evangelists and a base of delighted clients who feel their needs have been met and exceeded.

5. Happier and more productive teams

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that conflict stresses people out, and can often impede productivity. By fostering a collaborative work ethic between Sales and Marketing, and by putting a strong service level agreement (SLA) in place, it's possible to see both teams flourishing alongside one another while producing excellent results. The key here is determining expectations and defining responsibilities and success metrics.

When each team knows what they're responsible for, and how it ties in with each other's work and ability to perform well, it becomes easier to focus on playing well in collaboration, instead of competition. Which in turn reduces stress, and leads to happier and more productive teams.  

6 Steps To Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

1. Set Up Closed-Loop Reporting

Closed-loop reporting involves integrating your marketing software with your CRM. This is done in order to have a 2-way synchronisation of data from both a marketing and sales perspective. 

Unlike squabbling siblings, data has no emotion. It is objective and can only be determined by actual events. Access to data helps both teams to keep performance in perspective, allowing them to monitor progress towards goals, analyse lead quality and measure marketing ROI.

2. Define Funnel Stages

Sales and marketing teams often have a very different picture of the funnel. They might disagree about the number of stages a lead passes through before becoming a customer – and they often use different terminology to describe those stages. 

To align sales and marketing, the teams must have a consolidated view of the funnel and standard definitions of each stage in the process. Important definitions to agree on include: 

  • A marketing qualified lead 
  • A sales qualified lead 

3. Set Up a Service Level Agreement 

The definitions set up in the previous step is a critical step as it provides the foundation for the service-level agreement (SLA). The objective of the SLA is to formalise the commitment that the sales and marketing teams make to meet shared goals for revenue growth. It’s a two-way process.

The marketing team commits to deliver a certain quantity and quality of leads each month to help the sales team meet its quota. The sales team then commits to follow up on those leads in a timely manner and to make a specific number of contact attempts before abandoning the lead.

4. Incorporate Dashboards and Reporting

After implementing the SLA, use the data from your closed-loop reporting system to track progress towards those goals. Failing to monitor progress is a common mistake made by companies with poor alignment between sales and marketing. Dashboards are valuable tools in keeping progess in check and helping teams review overall performance on an ongoing basis.

5. Develop Strong Accountability Practices

This ties in with the latter - essentially a strong SLA will outline the goals, responsibilities and objectives the teams are facing, but it's important to take it a step further into a culture of accountability. When these departments are separate, they're accountable to themselves and management alone, which is part of the problem - seeing that their respective abilities to achieve success are quite symbiotic.

Just as tag team partners in the ring need to watch each other's backs and be there to support each other, so Sales and Marketing teams need to understand and embrace accountability to one another. Without this sense of responsibility to one another, it's impossible to foster an atmosphere of teamwork. Set out clearly defined goals that each of these teams agrees to, and hold joint meetings with the managers of both teams to ensure everyone is on board.

6. Keep Communication Channels Open

Even with an SLA in place, daily dashboards and regular meetings to provide updates, marketers still might need other ways to show the sales team how their efforts are helping achieve revenue goals. In other words, marketers should think about the sales team as another customer base, and aim to “market” the role of marketing to that internal audience.

Consolidate the information you need to convey to the sales team into simple, weekly newsletter-style reports intended to help them do their job better. 

Download Mind The Gap Between Sales and Marketing

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...my two cents worth

Teamwork.

It's a lot more rewarding when you work with like-minded individuals who keep you in-the-loop, are keen to share knowledge and who are passionate about turning-out a kick-ass product.

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