Three Keys to Bridging Marketing and Sales

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Effective knowledge sharing can happen only when the sales and marketing feedback loop works like a well-oiled machine. Here are three imperatives for closing the gap between marketing and sales.

Marketing and sales can no longer work effectively in silos. According to Aberdeen Research, companies who are "best-in-class" at aligning marketing and sales have a 20 percent average growth in annual revenue opposed to a 4 percent decline in "laggard" organizations.

The Aberdeen research illustrates that having the knowledge of customer issues and needs, market research, and real-time updates about products and services, distinguishes an effective sales person from an average one. The sharing of knowledge enables sales organizations to strike the synergy with marketing teams in the development of campaigns. Likewise, sales organizations rely on marketing to translate the feedback received into a value proposition that can resonate with future prospects.

In a perfect world, sales and marketing would have an open line of communication, but traditional divisions between siloed marketing and sales teams often lead to uncoordinated strategies and execution efforts. Because they lack this critical cross-department insight, marketers often find themselves creating content that may not resonate with prospects and customers. Sales, on the other hand, may be unaware of current customer issues into which marketing has a window.

Effective knowledge sharing, however, can happen only when the sales and marketing feedback loop works like a well-oiled machine. That means companies need to invest in and encourage a culture of knowledge sharing. Here are three imperatives for closing the gap between marketing and sales for collaborative knowledge sharing.

1. Adopt a cloud-based approach

With mobile and cloud-based technology, marketers can seamlessly support sales interactions with customers and sales can have the information they need to close deals at their fingertips. Using cloud-based technology, marketing can connect with sales throughout the whole cycle and gather feedback from the field to get total visibility into what's working and what needs improvement.

With mobile and cloud-based technology, sales and marketing alignment becomes much easier. Sales executives can access relevant information such as sales training, customer feedback from surveys, and collateral for demand generation. At the same time marketing can analyze client feedback and gain a more accurate assessment of the overall impact of its campaigns. Organizations that have adopted a cloud model have proven that collaboration through technology enablement improves the productivity of the marketing department and increases lead conversion.

By leveraging increasingly popular cloud technologies, marketers can more easily bridge the gap and empower sales executives with pertinent information and tools to advance the sales process, increase average deal size, decrease sales cycle lengths, and improve pipeline management. At the same time, with use of this technology marketing can gain better insight into the sales force's needs and what's working, allowing companies to gain a holistic view and a deeper understanding of the factors that are influencing their success.

2. Get CIOs and CMOs to collaborate

For alignment and knowledge integration truly to take hold, CMOs and CSOs must step outside their comfort zones for a regular meeting of the minds. Although CSOs and CMOs may often approach growth with different mindsets, these individuals must come together to align their departments and create an environment of knowledge sharing. This requires these two executives to sit down and have a discussion and to listen to each other's concerns.

CMOs and CSOs across the board should look to align their focuses, embarking upon joint customer-centric initiatives that will garner greater support among the C-suite and across the entire organization.

3. Align departments around a common set of metrics

After they form a working partnership, CSOs and CMOs should decide on the ways in which to align their departments organizationally, whether it's through establishing a shared budget, working toward common metrics, and hosting integrated meetings on a regular basis.

A movement growing in popularity is one in which sales and marketing are being measured and rewarded around a common set of customer-centric metrics. Sales and marketing are accustomed to being measured by different performance indicators, thus clashing when it comes to their overall objectives. Together, marketing and sales shouldn't rely on metrics that focus solely upon cost. Forward-thinking companies are transitioning to a system that establishes metrics focused on companywide goals to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction and then holds all employees accountable for achieving those unified goals.

Summary

Companies that transform their sales and marketing alignment are more likely to increase market share and profits. With organizational alignment and cloud-based and mobile technologies, sales and marketing knowledge sharing becomes easy to achieve. Ultimately, this collaboration improves the productivity of the marketing department and increases lead conversion from sales, which translates to a decrease in costs and an increase to the bottom line.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION