One of the biggest barriers to the marketing team’s ability to effectively influence revenue is often in their lack of ability to align with the sales team.  In most organizations, sales is the key function around which all else revolves.  It makes sense.  After all, if sales can’t sell your products or services, then you don’t have a company.  But many marketers see them as the enemy they are constantly fighting to get on board so they can be more successful.

The first step, as they say, is recognizing you have a problem.  The optimal marketing and sales relationship is not an adversarial one.  However, you need to recognize that it is your problem – not the sales team’s problem.  They could probably survive just fine without you – it would just make their job harder.  But most marketing departments would not survive without sales.  So you can’t expect sales to see alignment as a high priority or take action to remedy the problem.

The next step is to recognize that you have shared goals and start treating the relationship as such.  You both are trying to make more money for your company.  Start from that common ground.  Recognize that the sales team has access to key information that you need – what is getting your target audience’s attention and which of your messages/value propositions are resonating.  In return, you can help them be more successful at their job by providing better messaging, more qualified leads and nurture campaigns to keep prospects moving along their buy cycle.

Here are some specific ways you can align better with your sales team:

  • Attend sales meetings
  • Invite them to your marketing meetings
  • Invite sales feedback on your campaigns before you launch them
  • Give your sales team a way to give you feedback from customers and prospects
  • Go out on field visits to prospects with your sales reps (note – sales reps may have a very different view of the world than sales managers – take both views into account)
  • Create a shared marketing and sales steering committee to define the joint strategy
  • Setup Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between marketing and sales that clearly define the actions that are to be taken by each team, in what time frame and escalation points
  • Create a shared marketing and sales funnel with clear definitions and metrics for each stage
  • Share metrics and analysis with the sales team to provide value
  • Provide market research and further customer/prospect insights to the sales team to make their job more efficient
  • Focus on passing over more qualified leads to sales – put pre-sales qualification into place to ensure they will not need to waste their time on prospects that aren’t ready to buy

These are just a few ways you can start to work together better with your sales team.  Start looking at them as a partner with shared goals and you will find countless other ways to move forward together.