Think of your sales and marketing teams as midfielders and attackers in a soccer team. For the team to score goals, two things must happen. First, players have to perform to the best of their ability, and second, they have to work as a unit. Disjointed team play ruins team performance. 

The story is the same with your company. If your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned, you will not hit sales and revenue targets. However, aligning sales and marketing is easier said than done. It’s the third-biggest challenge; after lead generation and conversion. 

In this article, we’ll show you how to establish a collaborative sales and marketing process.  

Why Sales and Marketing Should Work Closely Together

Aligning sales and marketing teams should be a no-brainer for any forward-thinking company. 

Think of it this way: The marketing team generates demand for your product. The sales team converts that demand into business. 

By working closely together, both teams streamline the whole sales process, eliminating hurdles that lead to deal loss. According to statistics, companies with highly-aligned sales and marketing teams grow 19% faster and are 15% more profitable

How Sales and Marketing Teams Simplify Each Other’s Work

The sales team is in direct contact with your customers and prospects. They have first-hand information about your archetypal customer’s needs, pain points, interests, and preferences. Moreover, your sales team knows the solutions that customers expect. 

Imagine if the marketing team had this information. Marketing could create content and targeted campaigns that better resonated with the customers. The result? Increased lead generation. 

That’s not all: the sales team has all of the nitty-gritty details on what happens prior to deal closing that marketing teams aren’t privy to. For example, they have insights into which sources deliver higher close rates. Some of this information can help marketers improve lead qualification.

Beyond attracting leads, the marketing team ought to educate and nurture the leads before passing them on to sales. Besides that, they publish content that sales can refer to and share when converting leads. 

Moreover, marketing continuously engages customers to learn more about them. They know when customer preferences, interests, and needs change. This information, together with competitive intel from the marketing team, helps sales suggest the most appropriate solutions to customers. 

Steps to a Collaborative Sales and Marketing Process

One of the biggest mistakes your company can make is neglecting to bring these two crucial departments together in some way. Here are the steps to take that will align your sales and marketing teams:

1. Define Your Target Audience

Sales and marketing teams define their target audience on different levels. Your marketing teams likely develop personas — fictional profiles of your ideal customers based on research data. The sales team defines your customers based on real-world experiences.

The first thing when building a collaborative process is for the two teams to settle for one definition of your target audience. Get the point of view of each department and harmonize the details to get a holistic view of the customer. 

2. Map the Entire Customer Journey

Once the teams are on the same page, the next step is to map out the customer journey together. 

Begin with what each team knows. The marketing team has insights into the buyer’s journey from first contact to the moment they enter the leads funnel. The sales team has details about the journey from nurturing to deal closing.  

Combine this information and refine the process where necessary to come up with a unique customer lifecycle. Keep in mind that the customer journey doesn’t stop with customer purchases. Rather, it should be a continuous process that keeps customers coming back. 

3. Delegate Duties and Set Goals

Now, you have an outlined customer lifecycle; but how do you get the ball moving? The answer is to delegate roles and duties. 

Break the customer journey into stages such as awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy. Define which team is in charge of what stage and how to do things at each of the stages. Assign the tasks to respective team members to get the best all-hands-on-deck model.  

You’ll need to measure performance, and that means setting goals and stipulating the key performance indicators (KPIs). Since you want the teams to work collaboratively, it’s prudent to set shared goals — such as growing deal size, or increasing the number of sales, for instance. 

Some KPIs to track include:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) 
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
  • Cost per lead
  • Cost per customer acquisition
  • Opportunity-to-win ratio
  • Marketing ROI
  • Sales revenue

4. Develop an Integrated Action Plan

Let’s take our previous example and pretend the shared team goal is to increase deal size. The next step is to figure out how both teams will work together to achieve that goal.

As you know, to grow deal size, you have to sell value and articulate your competitive advantage. This theme should permeate through the entire customer journey. The marketing team will have this in mind when creating content and demonstrating how your product solves customers’ problems. 

The sales teams will also need to come up with a value-based negotiation strategy. The strategy should refer back to the value already established by the marketing team at the beginning of the customer journey. 

True cross-functional collaboration exists where both teams work perfectly in sync. Like a sports team, the teams should run integrated plays and coordinate the process with regular standups. To ensure this process moves as smoothly as possible, document it in an official marketing plan document. This will give your team something to refer to, and you can update it as necessary.

5. Measure Performance and Optimize Along the Way

Once the integrated process is up and running, you’ll need to measure progress. 

If you want to grow the deal size to $25k in one year, take time after three months to measure where you are. Note what’s working and what’s not to determine where to double down your efforts. Moreover, encourage feedback and set up closed-loop reporting.

For example, when you hit your deal size goal, it’s time for both teams to share their results. What did each team do that led to the achievement? Where did the teams stumble? Sharing results helps teams learn from each other and is critical when optimizing your collaboration strategy. 

6. Utilize Marketing Automation Software

Having marketing automation software that both teams use to help you track the progress your leads are making is invaluable for team alignment. Marketing automation software can help you keep track of a lead’s on-site activity, as well as create ways for you to capture their information so your  marketing team can enroll them in drip campaigns that make the most sense for them. Get an automation software with a built-in CRM so your sales team can get to know each lead better and identify opportunities to convert them. Check out BenchmarkONE’s software plans (we even have a free plan) and get started today!