How to Align Marketing and Sales for Greater Outcomes
Strategies for B2B companies to effectively engage audiences through internal alignment
In the backdrop of today’s volatile economic conditions, companies face unstable revenue flows. Across the board, companies are slashing budgets to sustain cashflow, which particularly affects marketing and sales teams. Every expense is being reconsidered and companies are trying to identify areas of inefficiency that impact revenue.
However, there is an inefficiency that is commonly overlooked, in spite of a high opportunity cost. When marketing executives and sales teams are not aligned, there is a heavy missed opportunity cost. On the other hand, when marketing executives and sales teams are aligned, data shows that revenue can increase by up to 32%1.
Any marketeer or salesperson will tell you that they experience mutual misalignment on a regular basis. This wastes precious time and resources that could be used to reach more opportunities, bring in more leads and generate revenue2. From our experience working with large business-to-business corporations, we’ve seen three common challenges that frequently cause misalignment within sales and marketing teams. We’ll look at these challenges and explore some concrete solutions that help achieve alignment.
Challenge 1: A large inventory of materials
Every year, companies invest thousands into marketing efforts, most of which goes into the creation of assets. Over the years, these assets accumulate, leaving marketing teams with a large and likely disorganized library of assets. Most of these may be outdated, underutilized, or unevenly distributed. It can be time consuming to track these assets down, organize them, make sure they’re the right versions and deliver them to sales teams. This becomes further complicated when multiple business divisions and product lines are involved. Unfortunately, this leads to a lost opportunity on reutilizing assets and maximize the sales impact from marketing spend.
The solution: A centralized digital library
Taking control of existing marketing assets allows them to be organized and leveraged in sales efforts. Creating a digital library of materials allows marketing teams to track created assets while ensuring sales teams have the latest files most relevant to their audience, segment, and region at their disposal. Ideally, these digital libraries should come with in-built tracking, so marketing is alerted on what materials are most utilized, or underutilized. This allows further optimization of efforts in creating new and more effective materials, or in training sales teams to leverage materials appropriately.
Ultimately, this means taking advantage of the investment that’s already been made and recognising the returns.
Challenge 2: Using oversaturated formats
Marketing teams want materials to help sales teams demonstrate value, not just communicate features, specifications and prices. A saturation of brochures, spec sheets, and white papers makes it easy for sales staff to default to bottom-of-the-barrel conversations about price. Audiences have “seen it all before,” and tend to make up their mind about what salespeople are going to say, before sales teams can even begin. Marketing messaging gets lost in these interactions, which means sales drives communications without leveraging valuable insights on the persona or audience.
The solution: Interactive visualizations to demonstrate value
Organizations need to explore using more engaging formats and experiences to better communicate brand value and solution benefits, while differentiating themselves from the competition. Implementing new technologies and visualizations such as 3D, Augmented Reality (AR) experiences, videos, and interactive tools, can help attract audiences and enable them to visualize benefits for themselves. This type of content can also create unique opportunities to showcase a wider range of solutions in a larger visual context.
Challenge 3: One-size-fits-all communications
Sales interactions need to be tailored so the right messages reach the right audiences. In general, marketing relies on sales feedback to understand the pain points of the customers they address. At the same time, sales relies on marketing for the right messaging to address these pain points. When marketing and sales are misaligned, communications can be generic and ineffective. This can lead to passive and disengaged interactions, leaving audiences with more questions about whether a company can truly meet their needs.
The solution: Establishing customer personas to create sales playbooks
An effective alignment exercise for marketing and sales is working together to establish customer personas. Sales can offer insights on customer pain points that marketing can use to craft specific messaging for each persona. In turn, this messaging can inform how solutions are framed to address audience requirements. Marketing can offer sales teams with a playbook, which can serve as a script or guide for sales to communicate messages that resonate with audiences.
At MBLM, we have helped clients execute these solutions to achieve better alignment between sales and marketing, which ultimately helps generate more revenue. To recap, here are some actionable solutions to facilitate alignment between your marketing and sales teams.
- Consider a centralized digital library for your assets if:
- Your company has a vast library of materials with no clear process for inventory
- Marketing often encounters sales teams presenting inaccurate or outdated content
- Sales teams often complain about lack of access to marketing material
- Consider using interactive visualizations if:
- Sales teams are driving conversations around price and specifications
- Sales teams are using inconsistent messaging between customers
- Audiences have compartmentalized your company’s capabilities to a specific product or solution, with little to no knowledge of the larger portfolio
- Consider creating playbooks for customer personas if:
- Sales materials being presented to audiences seldom drive purchase
- Content initiatives are not being guided by customer pain points
- Sales teams highlight the same value-added features of a solution, irrespective of the type of customer
Explore our case studies to see how these solutions in action for industry-leading companies. If you’d like to know more about the right tools and alignment strategies for your company contact us for a consult.
Watch: A recorded webinar of MBLM Associate Director Ashwin Kulothungun discussing alignment strategies between marketing and sales.