Historically, sales and marketing have struggled to work together. And it’s no secret that tension, and sometimes even resentment, exists between the two departments. This disconnect is often deeply ingrained in corporate culture, manifesting in the form of departmental silos and a lack of communication.
A Forrester study found that only 8% of B2B companies have tight marketing and sales alignment. Even so, most organizations are pretty adept at recognizing that there is a problem and developing piece-meal solutions. The challenge is identifying and enacting a strategy that promotes enduring change within the company.
Why is Sales and Marketing Communication Important?
A lack of communication results in two big problems that have a major impact on bottom-line results: broken processes and inconsistent metrics. A recent report from App Data Room and Marketo determined that sales and marketing communication and alignment can generate 209% more value from content, make an organization 67% better at closing deals, and reduce friction by 108%. On the flip side, poor alignment can cost B2B companies 10% or more in annual revenue.
Further, the fast-paced nature of the buying space and the increasing complexity of the buyer journey demands better communication between sales and marketing in order to leverage resources and drive revenue. Read ahead for a few more reasons why improving communication should be a priority.
- Communication empowers reps to have value-add conversations.
Almost every B2B deal is influenced by content; making it imperative that reps know what content to share, what to say, and when to communicate these messages. Unfortunately, two out of three customers feel that sales reps are unprepared for initial meetings and unable to engage in meaningful conversation. More often than not, this poor customer service can be attributed to the lack of knowledge on relevant content and resources they could use to prepare for meetings and add value to the conversation. With proper communication, sales reps would know what to say, and when to say it, in order to advance the deal.
- Communication increases the organization’s productivity.
A CMO study found that up to 40% of a rep’s time is spent looking for or creating content to share with prospects. But with communication and alignment around organizational goals and sales initiatives, marketing can equip the sales team with best practice content, research, and industry data so that sales can engage prospects in relevant conversations and more effectively advance deals. As a result, companies can expect to see up to a 40% increase in closed deals and about 50% fewer accounts churning.
- Communication leverages and maximizes resources.
The average B2B marketing team of 10 spends about 14,000 hours per year, or 155 entire days each, creating collateral - but 85% of that content is never used by sales. At the same time, 95% of sales reps indicate that content is essential to advancing prospects to subsequent stages, but they can’t find it, don’t know what content to use, or lack the confidence that it will progress their deals. The result? Missed opportunities, lost revenue, and increased discord and finger-pointing between marketing and sales. This presents a lose-lose situation for the organization. Better communication would get marketing’s content used and help sales more effectively advance their deals.
- Communication improves the customer experience.
Your customers and prospects can tell when there is a problem and a lack of communication at a company. As the buyer journey continues to evolve, it’s increasingly important for sales and marketing to be on the same page and work together in presenting a united front to achieve sales success. Communication and alignment lead to greater team morale, which has a positive impact on the pipeline.
How Can Sales and Marketing Communicate More Effectively?
It’s clear that sales and marketing communication should be a priority for any B2B organization, and Q1 is the perfect time to begin these initiatives.
Follow these tips to get started.
- Go to the top: obtain support from senior management.
The level of support and participation from executive leadership can play a significant role in the success of your communication initiatives. To succeed requires consistent implementation across the organization, setting precedence for information sharing and instituting cultural change.
- Build your tech stack: acquire technology to support communication initiatives.
To effectively support sales and marketing communication, technology must be accessible, consistent, and easily incorporated into each department's’ workflow.
A sales enablement tool, for example, promotes improved communication by using real-time data to determine what content most effectively advances deals at the highest ROI. It then surfaces content based on the sales situation - directly into reps’ CRM and email. Marketing uses this data to gain insight into what content works and where there are gaps in the content library, helping them focus their time and optimize their efforts. Together, these pieces of information enable sales and marketing to make informed decisions about strategy and process.
- Identify key performance metrics together.
Traditionally, marketing is measured on top-of-funnel metrics (i.e. brand awareness, lead generation, and campaign performance), and sales is measured on bottom-of-funnel metrics (i.e. closed deals, revenue, and renewal rate). But it makes sense for sales and marketing to share performance metrics, as both departments should be working toward the same goal - driving revenue. When sales and marketing are both graded based on pipeline development it’s easier to share goals and priorities, measure and benchmark progress, and work together effectively.
And on the topic of metrics, the organization needs to share data and use it strategically in decision-making. Data is how marketing knows what content to create and how sales knows what content to share. It’s how both teams know what is working, areas to improve, and opportunities for new and improved strategies.
- Create a ‘shareconomy’ of knowledge.
The best way for companies to increase their bottom line is to work smarter and more efficiently. Thus feedback (and with it, change) is very important. After all, if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll continue to get the same results.
So what types of information should be shared? Consider the following examples:
- Sales people are on the front-line, talking to prospects and customers on a daily basis and gaining insights into their needs, challenges, and pain points. This information should be shared with marketing so that they can create relevant content.
- Marketing creates content specific to different stages in the buying process or for particular sales scenarios. Marketing should ensure sales is aware of this information and knows how to use the right content at the right time for engaging in value-add conversations with prospects. This is often called content mapping.
These types of information offer a more holistic view of the customer experience, which is beneficial to both sales and marketing.
Marketing and sales communication is critical to selling effectively in today’s ever-changing marketplace. These tips will help your organization overcome the communication problem and improve departmental alignment, ultimately driving bottom-line results.
About the Author:
Shelley Cernel is the Senior Marketing Manager at KnowledgeTree.