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Breaking Down the Walls

Three things every marketer should know about sales

By WILL WIEGLER

When I first got into marketing about 15 years ago, the landscape was much different than it is today. Marketing and sales typically worked independently from one another; Marketing handled things like tradeshows and print collateral (with little insight into its impact on overall ROI) and sales handled the leads. This made marketing an overhead expense, and was an easy target for cuts when budgets got tight. It was hard to show conclusive evidence that marketing truly supported the overall success of the sales organization. We knew it was true, but the data was elusive.
Fast forward to today and things look somewhat different, but are still far from perfect. As a marketer, I now have tools and applications that can more easily generate data and therefore quantify results of our marketing activities. I can follow an activity through the entire lifecycle, including if a lead turned into a serious prospect. Suddenly, there is real correlation between the campaigns we run and the ROI for my colleagues on the sales side. 
I am fortunate to work for an organization that takes the relationship between marketing and sales seriously and highly values collaboration. My marketing team is an integral part of the sales process and works closely with inside and outside sales teams to provide the right messages at the right times to our prospects and customers, build the supporting infrastructure to deliver those messages via the most effective channels, and then monitor the results. Sales knows that marketing is here to help them meet their sales targets, and we provide the intelligence and expertise to help them win. Our goals are aligned and we work (and play) as a team. Month after month, members of our sales team nominate members of my marketing team for “Star of the Month” awards. Sales thinks we rock (and we do)!
This alignment doesn't exist at all companies. In fact, many companies have a lot of work to do. Recently, my company, BigMachines, surveyed 100 sales executives to uncover the biggest pain points affecting their job today. The top result? Two-thirds of respondents said their biggest pain point is the disconnect between sales and marketing. This is troubling to hear because when the lines of communication are broken, opportunities may be missed, errors can occur and deals can even be lost.
With that in mind, here are some insights I’ve learned along the way:
  • Make sales your partner. Sales and marketing teams actually have a symbiotic relationship. Despite the fact that we are different types, we depend on each other and benefit from the relationship. Your marketing team should provide essential insights that help sales generate and identify the best leads, the best ways to interact with those leads, and provide the resources, messages and delivery methods to support those interactions. And sales should provide feedback from the front line to create a knowledge-sharing loop with marketing. Marketing and sales should have their goals aligned, work cooperatively toward those goals and, ideally, should be "best friends forever."
  • Set specific marketing goals. My income is tied directly to the number of qualified leads I can drive through marketing initiatives. Don’t be afraid to assign metrics to your marketing team and engage them in the process. And reward them for meeting those metrics. Nothing says motivation like dollars in your pocket! Sales reps have known this all along. Now it’s marketing’s turn to benefit from hitting their targets.
  • Use the right tools. While many of the marketing-specific tools are relatively new, they have evolved quickly and can be quite powerful. Example 1: Marketing automation tools (we use Marketo and there are other great systems to chose from depending on your needs) help marketers track and understand data behind campaigns while also observing the behaviors and patterns of your prospects. Example 2: As part of our BigMachines software, we offer the BigMachines Document Engine where our customers can store the most up-to-date templates for proposals, contracts and quotes, making it simple for sales teams to generate branded, marketing-approved sales documents. This allows you to maintain corporate standards throughout the sales process, and when you present a consistent brand that reflects well on your company, you have a competitive advantage and can sometimes even command a higher price. 
I’d love to hear about what other marketers and sales executives are seeing. Are you noticing more alignment between the marketing and sales groups at your company? Have you implemented strategies within your organization that helps sales and marketing work together? Leave a comment below or reach out to us on Twitter @bigmachines.
 
Will Wiegler is Vice President of Marketing for BigMachines, a developer of software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms that enhance the sales and marketing process.