Audio Series: Interviews from Set Up To Win
Topics Covered In This Interview (4:59 Minutes)
Any business leader worth their salt wants the company's sales and marketing teams to function at peak performance. However, this won't happen automatically; the leader needs to be a leader in several vital areas before the teams will follow. Buy-in starts at the top, and management's words and deeds are what set the tone for the rest of the organization.
With that in mind, here are six key ways in which leaders can contribute to improved sales and marketing performance from their team members:
1. Show Respect
This is a fundamental step in optimizing your team's performance... one which sadly goes neglected more often than not. It's important to understand that your marketers and sales reps are "subject-matter experts" when it comes to prospects' pain points, concerns, and values. They have experience in offering targeted solutions that guide leads through the sales funnel and toward a final purchase decision with your brand. That experience — that expertise, hard work, and passion — must be respected by leadership.
Make it clear to both your sales and marketing teams that you understand how they are directly contributing to the company's mission, vision, goals, and ultimate success. Vocalize your appreciation for their efforts. By simply filling this basic human need — the need to feel respected and valued — you're already setting your teams on the right path, and motivating each member to give their best, even toward the most ambitious revenue goals.
2. Support Teamwork
Do everything you can to push back against collaboration's silent killer: the "silo mentality." Sales and marketing experts may be able to accomplish quite a bit apart from each other, but that pales in comparison to what they can accomplish together. For that reason, aligning your sales and marketing teams toward a common vision and goals should be a top priority on your leadership agenda.
Set up processes that promote communication and collaboration between the two teams, such as regular interdepartmental meetings. Communicate with team leaders in joint strategy sessions. Do what you can to walk the walk, and your managers and team members will fall in line.
3. Ask for Feedback (and really listen to it)
What if your departments aren't performing to expectations? The quickest and most effective way to uncover sales and marketing roadblocks is to seek feedback from your teams. Ask questions, and pay close attention to the answers. It may be enough to seek feedback from team leaders, but at times you'll need to get feedback from the entire team.
Your sales reps in particular can help you understand what prospects truly want, and why deals may not be closing as expected. These team members are "on the front lines" when it comes to customer interactions, and they can function as the de facto eyes and ears of your organization. Be willing to tap into their knowledge and experience, especially when contemplating major strategic changes.
4. Promote and Drive Ongoing, Integrated Training
Interdepartmental collaboration is one vital aspect of proper alignment between sales and marketing. For most modern organizations, integrated training on sales and marketing tools is another. It's vital that your sales reps and marketers understand how to use such tools effectively — whether it's a new lead database, a CRM, or an email automation platform.
They also need to understand how their activities with these tools play into the bigger picture. For example, when exactly should a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) transition into a sales-qualified lead (SQL)? And what steps need to take place in order to implement and document that transition? In this regard, it may be best to remove training silos within sales and marketing and bring the teams together for integrated learning sessions.
5. Focus on Results and Watch the Numbers
As you implement alignment between sales and marketing, you'll be asking team members to track specific KPIs for the sales and marketing processes over which they've taken ownership. When it comes to these numbers, balance will be needed on your part: you'll certainly never want to fall into the trap of micromanagement, which is both inefficient and counterproductive. At the same time, as a leader it's your responsibility to regularly and methodically review these KPIs within the context of the company's larger goals.
By keeping an eye on key metrics, you'll be able to spot any bottlenecks (or potential bottlenecks) in your sales and marketing strategy. You'll also gain insight into which team members could benefit most from constructive feedback. At the end of the day, it's important for sales and marketing leaders to remember that they're working toward an overarching objective, and are getting consistent support and direction from proactive leadership.
6. Celebrate Wins... and Have Fun!
In many ways, sales and marketing teams can be compared to sports teams. For instance, both work toward common goals. In order to be effective, both require hard work from individual members, along with a clear understanding of their specific roles. And both can achieve visible, measurable success ("points scored," if you will).
There are many ways to "score points" in sales and marketing. No matter how you keep track of those points, it's important to occasionally step back and celebrate the wins — all the times your company has experienced some type of success from the efforts of your team members. Take advantage of these opportunities to acknowledge the work of your team, and express your appreciation for them. There will always be room for improvement; but taking a moment to look at what you are doing right is great for team morale, and a driver for future success.
When it's all said and done, sales and marketing performance has a direct relation to qualities that any leader can develop: understanding, respect, empathy, consistency, and trust. By holding the vision of sales and marketing alignment, seeking feedback, and demonstrating your respect and appreciation for the efforts of each team member, you'll undoubtedly see improvement in each department's performance. Momentum will gradually build, and your company will be set up for sustainable success for years to come.
A healthy relationship between sales and marketing is vital to an organization’s success. Dive deep into this effective strategy in a new book called Sales & Marketing Alignment. If you'd like more insights on how you can improve your sales leadership, contact us. Or sign up for our newsletter for more valuable resources.