One of the biggest challenges that a business organization may face is finding an effective way to achieve marketing and sales alignment. Obviously, both departments are important to the company's overall success. In fact, you could think of them as the two wings of a bird. Without either one functioning properly, there's no way your organization will be able to "fly," much less soar.
The issue is that these two teams are often at loggerheads with each other. Marketing is upset that sales isn't sticking to their message. Sales is upset that marketing isn't giving them properly qualified leads. And so on and so on. You get the idea. Marketing and sales alignment is non-existent.
Even when the two departments are at peace with each other, there may still be a lack of alignment between them. Strategies and objectives may differ. And there may be a deeply ingrained "silo mentality" within both teams. With all that in mind, how do you achieve marketing and sales alignment?
How about this proposal: why not have someone oversee both marketing and sales on a macroscopic level? This person could bring everything together by developing and implementing a unified strategy. Their role defines primary revenue goals and KPIs, and ensures that both teams are in lockstep with the plan.
Let's discuss how marketing and sales perform different functions within an organization. And we'll address why appointing a leader to head up both departments may be a winning play.
The Role of Marketing
Go back to the traditional paradigm of the "sales funnel." Marketing definitely owns the top of that funnel, and at least some of the middle. Of course, your marketing team's first goal is to generate favorable exposure for your brand. This typically involves all the high-level tactics and acronyms that are so popular today (SEO, PPC, SEM, and so forth). However, marketers are also interested in educating and conditioning prospects before handing them over to sales.
Think of it this way. If you're walking into a meeting with a prospect you've never met, and know nothing about, how comfortable would you feel? But what if a colleague prepped you for the meeting? They might describe what the prospect is like. They may tell you what they're interested in, what pain points they're dealing with, and the solutions they're considering? You'd feel a lot more confident going into the meeting, right?
In the same way, marketing's role is to educate prospects before they're introduced to sales. Marketers should give prospects an idea of what they can expect throughout the sales process. How does the company's product or service can address their pain points? Of course, a well-aligned marketing department will also give the sales team the info they need to successfully close the deal.
The Role of Sales
Once the MQL has turned into an SQL, it's time for the sales team to take over. Their job is to interact with the qualified lead, answer questions in detail, and help the prospect make a well-informed decision as to whether your product or service is right for them. They may have a stake in the middle-of-funnel "evaluation" stage. And they definitely own the bottom-of-funnel "decision" stage of the buyer's journey.
In some cases, your sales reps may also serve as account managers, especially if your customers have a long lifetime value (LTV). Regardless, your sales team is focused on forging strong, ongoing relationships with clients, and proposing in-depth solutions for each one's particular needs. Of course, they also want to close the sale in a way that's mutually beneficial for both parties.
If you frame the roles of these two departments in baseball terms, marketing is like your starting pitcher. And your sales team is your closer. The problem arises when they're both trying to be on the mound at the same time. And this is where having both departments answer to one person starts making a lot of sense.
Where the VP of Revenue Fits Into the Picture
t's true that marketing and sales usually operate independently of one another. However, there are a ton of areas in which their activities could overlap. For instance, what conditions determine when a lead transitions from marketing-qualified to sales-qualified? How in-depth should a marketer go into a product's features before introducing a sales rep to the prospect? Who should determine the company's UVP (unique value proposition) for a major service offering?
Without a centralized authority figure in place, it can be extremely difficult for both departments to get on the same page. In contrast, appointing someone to whom both the director of marketing and the director of sales must report to -- the title could be VP of Revenue or Director of Revenue, just as a couple of suggestions -- can be a huge help in building an integrated team.
We include "revenue" in the proposed title because the point of this position would really be to avoid trapped revenue in the funnel. When you have marketing and sales alignment in terms of strategies, tactics, reporting, accountability, and assigned tasks, the ultimate effect is a smooth experience for the customer. There won't be any more friction points that send a lead flying out of the funnel, or messaging inconsistencies that lead to "closed lost" situations. Instead, your company will become a lean, mean, revenue-generating engine.
Final Thoughts on Marketing and Sales Alignment
To sum up: marketing and sales each have distinct roles within the overall sales process. There may be challenges to alignment. However, appointing someone who's responsible for both departments is one excellent option for getting (and keeping) everyone on the same page. Whatever you call the person (Director of Revenue, VP of Revenue, or just Director of Marketing & Sales), you can expect them to look at revenue holistically. In addition, they can make sure that the entire buyer's journey is a smooth progression through the sales funnel, and work with directors and team leaders to address any bottlenecks they identify.
If you're looking for ways to improve your organization's sales performance, and alignment between marketing and sales is a key issue that needs to be addressed, seriously consider implementing this solution. You may find it's the best way to integrate both teams into a unified whole.
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