Sales and marketing teams have interactions with customers at different points of the customer buying cycle. This makes it imperative that there’s consistency in content, message, tone, and experience, from marketing, sales to end customer. Yet, at times, they are on the opposite side of each other. Hence Sales and Marketing are two sides of the same coin.
Sales team have to face various challenges such as economical aspects, competitive pricing and features & functionalities of the products offered by the competitors. The sales team believes that these aspects are often neglected by the Marketing team while painting a rosy picture, whereas things are not as simple and straight forward as projected by the Marketing team. Sales team believes that they know the actual ground situation in the market.
Marketing team believes that the sales team rather than focusing more on A-customers (who can yield immediate sales order) to achieve their immediate targets, should work more on the leads provided to them by Marketing, help build a brand image so that the prospective customers would automatically consider the brand as the only option. Marketing insights are based on market research and data analysis.
One of the goals of Marketing is to generate qualified leads and ensure sales turns them into customers – so sales and marketing need each other just as much and one cannot function without the other. If Sales sits on potential leads for too long, the probable customer simply buys from elsewhere. Meanwhile, if marketing fails to handover a ‘not quite ready to buy’ lead to sales for further nurturing, sales team loses interest in the leads as it would take too long to convert and sales have their own priorities with targets to meet.
When marketing is claiming that they are hitting their numbers by pushing a certain number of leads over to sales, while sales is saying the leads are crap and they not helping me hit my numbers, it’s a classic example of misalignment.
Implications of misalignment
Lack of consumer priorities, disjointed perceptions of the brand and product, mismatch of pricing and brand misperceptions can result from misalignment.
Sales team is a customer facing force which is well aware of the consumer requirements and the market priorities. When there is lack of knowledge sharing and mutual respect towards each other’s work, the marketing & sales teams working as non-cohesive units would be putting their efforts in different directions as if the two were living in altogether different worlds, resulting in missed opportunities, risking lack of product evolution and lack of competitive knowledge.
Finding the way
High alignment generates higher brand awareness. Research shows that companies that align sales and marketing teams achieve faster growth rates and profit over a period.
The seamless handover of leads between sales and marketing is a crucial key to success. The qualified lead definition should cover both Firmographic information (Industry, company size, location) and Demographic information (Title, role, responsibility). The concept of SLAs between sales and marketing becomes increasingly important, adding teams can align their goals and work only if they are in clear agreement over the definitions, processes and inputs required from each.
Both teams need to agree on and abide by the definitions such as what is a qualified lead ready to be handed from marketing to sales, response times, required number of customer contact attempts are completed, sharing of feedback from customers in a timely manner and so on. By clearly defining and agreeing on these SLAs, the teams work together towards common goal as a cohesive unit, with no room for blame shifting leaving out the ego and personal agenda to make oneself look better than the other.
Both teams – the Sales and the Marketing, must learn to listen and learn first and act second. By doing so, they will be able to make optimum use of available data and the whole organisation would be benefited through symbiotically relationship and increased revenue.