08 December 2016

Why great communication will unlock the power of your sales and marketing teams

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You’ve all heard the age-old adage that sales and marketing work better together. Well surprise, surprise – it’s true. But the reality is that the relationships between these teams are often fractious and unbalanced, with sales dominating the business to business (B2B) sector, while marketing leads the charge in business to consumer (B2C).

Marketing drives your company’s brand, builds campaigns and gains interest from your target audiences. In the B2B world, however, it’s your sales team that’s going to these meetings and having these client conversations – the two inherently rely on one another.

You need to ensure there’s open and clear communication between your sales and marketing teams for both of them to be at their most productive. But establishing these dialogues is often easier said than done.

So, how do you get your sales and marketing teams to work closer together so you can begin these discussions?

Create an environment that promotes feedback

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is helping your staff understand that making the effort to communicate is a huge investment in the future of your business.

Your marketing team could be working on a variety of campaigns that don’t align with the sales team’s activities, wasting a lot of time and money.

It’s essential to create a team environment where your staff feel free to communicate with one another and provide feedback in a constructive manner. After all, marketing should be providing your sales team with the leads to connect with prospects and the tools to take to those clients to help them secure deals and win business. If your sales team isn’t providing feedback on these leads and the supporting materials – especially when they’re not working – marketing is going to continue making those same mistakes. Crazy.

Transparency goes a long way to making this happen. If the sales team knows what marketing is working on, they can provide feedback during the process. On the other hand, if the marketing team knows what sales has in the pipeline, they can target their materials to help close these deals.

Use your customer relationship management (CRM) system to bridge communication gaps

One key tool you should be using is a CRM system. CRM is the world that your teams live in together and that allows them to collaborate. Think of CRM as the and in ‘sales and marketing’.

Maximising the use of your CRM involves keeping your data clean, up to date, and relevant. This CRM data enables your marketing team to run more detailed analyses so that sales has a better understanding of their customers and can improve their communications.

Your CRM is pivotal in maintaining those consistent cross-team and client relationships. It enables your sales team to have the right conversations with the right customers, at the right points in their decision-making cycle.

Articulate the benefits of communication to encourage discussion

It’s one thing to tell your staff to begin communicating with each other; it’s another to actually make this happen.

The easy answer is to ask them to have regular meetings, but this rarely happens. So often, your staff will have a meeting – and it might go great – but people are busy, and the following meetings get pushed back and eventually never happen.

You have to get your staff to make the time. And the only way to do that is to convey the value in this process.

Another great way to begin facilitating communication is to allow your staff to step into each other’s shoes. By nature, sales and marketing people are very different, but they can complement each other if they understand each other.

Let your marketers sit in on sales meetings – and vice versa – so they can see what others are dealing with on a daily basis and understand their processes. Then both teams can push forward with common goals.

It’s often a matter of short-term pain for long-term gain. Everyone is busy, but your staff members need to make that time. If they can see the bigger picture, they’ll understand how investing time and effort now will pay off in the future.

Improve your transparency and promote collaboration

Your sales and marketing heads need to take the lead in connecting their departments and building a closer working relationship between their teams. Both need to understand and be clear on the part they play in building and managing the sales pipeline.

Aligning your KPIs and targets is key to this. Having common metrics is becoming increasingly critical as marketing becomes embedded in the sales process.

With both teams moving in the same direction and working together to achieve shared goals, you’ll see significant benefits to achieving your business objectives. An integrated and cohesive sales and marketing team cannot succeed unless they share responsibility for clearly defined revenue objectives.

This can be supported by having your teams working close together – it’s a simple truth that when people are physically close, they’ll interact more often and will be more likely to work together well. By breaking down these physical barriers, you’ll encourage connections.

Begin celebrating your wins together

When your teams start working together, they’re also going to begin winning and failing together. Although it’s easy to either take the credit for a win or blame someone else for a failure, it’s better in both cases to step back and understand why it happened the way it did.

If, for example, you succeed in closing a deal with a new client – fantastic! Package that up and do more of the same. If you don’t succeed, begin talking and defining the factors that may have contributed. When your staff understand this, they’ll begin working smarter. Of course, it feels fantastic to win, but anyone who’s played a team sport knows that it feels even better to win with others.

That’s why all companies should be looking at improving the relationship between their sales and marketing teams. Over time, these improvements will help you win customers, and you’ll be better positioned to support and serve them, strengthening those business relationships. Open up your communication channels today and see for yourself.

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