Align sales and marketing to increase marketing ROI

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I recently participated in a forum discussion about who is driving the conversation about sales and marketing alignment, marketing or sales.

Once I stopped thinking, “Duh, who wouldn’t want that?” and “Can’t we all just get along?” it occurred to me that the “who, what, or why” doesn’t matter. It just simply must happen.Aligning sales and marketing

As a CRM implementation consultant I see the fallout from this misalignment in many of the companies who engage us.

Managers of SMB Sales and Marketing departments frequently approach the challenge as if it’s merely a philosophical discussion. I’m privy to a good deal of chin wagging about alignment but rarely see the needed improvements in processes, structure, or feedback mechanisms to enable it.

As a result, there is no agreement if a web visit should be treated as a sales-ready lead and assigned to a rep for follow up, nor if marketers should develop short or long contact forms for a visitor’s first web visit. Nor the most effective way to follow up with everyone who attended the recent trade show. Without communicating about these issues it’s no surprise that Sales gets crappy leads, Marketing has alienated visitors before they convert to viable leads, and visitors don’t get what they came for. Everybody loses.

Talk about creating friction! Sales and Marketing need to stop working in silos and be accountable to each other. In the era of social media marketing and web 2.0, buyers are much more in control of the buying process. Both sales and marketing first need to get aligned with that concept. Clearly, several things need to take place for the alignment of goals and results to occur.

Some simple examples:

  • Agree what denotes a sales-ready lead.
  • Nurture leads with compelling content.
  • Create a process and follow it.
  • Test and adjust – no one is born knowing how to do this perfectly.
  • Build in milestones for Marketing to be less activity-oriented and more results-oriented.
  • Create a closed-loop system to evaluate the complete life cycle of trade show or web visitor to converted lead, and then, from lead to won or lost sale.
  • Use the analytics available in contact management and CRM systems to evaluate, and learn, and improve.

It would be nice to see less finger-pointing and more real collaboration. Really, can’t we all just get along?

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