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Five Keys to Aligning Your Marketing and Sales Teams

By Michael Bouso

Does your organization suffer from the marketing-sales divide syndrome? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many companies experience the same dilemma.

They have different goals, different processes, and different strategies. If the two teams can only be more aligned, they can drastically improve business growth and performance.

The big question: HOW?

We’ve come up with a handy list of tips that will help you get your two departments in sync.

1) Define goals TOGETHER

The first step to making sure the marketing and sales teams are on the same page is creating common or like-minded goals. You’re probably wondering, “But doesn’t the company have one goal: To increase revenue?” You’re right. The problem is that this goal can (and is) interpreted in different ways. For example, the marketing department translates revenue growth in the long-term. They nurture prospects and build strategic partnerships for the future. On the other end, the sales department worries about revenue growth in terms of meeting quarterly targets. As a result, both teams come up with strategies that overlap and contradict one another.

But just because they see things from different perspectives doesn’t mean there’s no happy middle-ground. An important starting point is to remember that we want the same things and more importantly, we’re on the same team. Next step is to agree on term definitions. What do you exactly mean by lead? How do you qualify a lead? You’ll be surprised that marketing and sales tend to have different answers. Once you have operationalized terms, you can look at the company’s overall vision and translate it to short-term objectives and long-term targets.

2) Implement a Service-Level Agreement (SLA)

Once you have identified your goals, both teams can now craft a strategy or a general road map for success. At this point, marketing and sales must outline their respective responsibilities and determine the ones they have to share. They can also detail the handoff process from marketing to sales for a seamless transition of leads. Then they seal the commitment to the goals and the roles through an SLA. Crystallizing agreement via a document lets marketing and sales monitor themselves and each other to ensure both are holding up their end of the agreement.

3) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Marketing and sales can’t afford to snob each other. The only sure way to ensure alignment is through consistent communication. Schedule regular meetings to review progress in achieving the goals, adjust strategies as necessary, and discuss concerns from both departments. An effective communication practice in many companies is appointing team liaisons in-charge of everyday coordination. This streamlines the communication channel and makes interaction efficient.

4) Use a CRM

The CRM is a great platform for marketing-sales alignment. First, it centralizes customer data that both teams can access. With information-sharing now more seamless, confusion and miscommunication will decrease as marketing people, and sales executives can review notes from one another. They can also ask clarifications and provide recommendations all in one roof.

With everyone working on the same database and program, it becomes that much easier to complete the rest of the tips on this list.

5) Set up a content library

Whether you’re from sales or marketing, content is important. Aside from collaborating about the content strategy in producing content materials, it is just as critical that both teams know where to find them. There must be a content library that marketing and sales teams can access. Files must be organized, and there has to be a clear file uploading process, so they know that the content in the library is approved and updated.

Yes, marketing and sales are two distinct departments. But the truth is both teams cannot achieve the company goals alone. They have to work together to help leads and buyers move along the sales funnel.