Increased Revenue Just One Reason to Align Sales and Marketing

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I still recall Peter Goldstone, CEO of Hanley Wood, telling me last year that they have outlawed the word "divisions. We now have centers of excellence." And with that, no more silos. Their centers are "completely integrated" now.

We hear many success stories today of department integration. At the SIPA Conference, Donna Jefferson, CEO of Jefferson Communications, told an audience that her staff meets together weekly. "...It's good to include everyone. We might get answers that we don't expect. Turns out our art director has creative business ideas. There are no wrong answers at this meeting."

Amber Mundinger, VP of new ventures and general manager of Fairchild summits + events for Penske Media Corp., told a BIMS crowd last November about their "executive director of editorial content who works with our teams... making suggestions of the brands to put on stage. That's how we're inviting people to speak. Our ad sales team also has built great relationships."

Robin Crumby, director & co-founder, Novatum Group—and formerly Melcrum which he recently sold—firmly believes that your sales and marketing teams should be more closely aligned. The benefits he sees are shorter sales cycles, improved conversion rates, more predictable results, increased revenues, and last but certainly not least, a more harmonious work environment! (His exclamation.)

SIIA has scheduled its second Best Practices Series event—sponsored again by the Specialized Information Publishers Foundation—for Friday, Oct. 14 in San Francisco. Titled New Marketing & Sales Strategies for Customer Acquisitions, the all-day event will help you choose the latest proven strategies for lead generation and sales, as well as test, measure and improve their effectiveness for your products.

Here are nine tips from Crumby to achieve better alignment:

1. Create a shared, overarching purpose that unites the teams together. Bring sales and marketing leaders together to agree what this shared purpose is and what success looks like.

2. Enhance the understanding of what's important to each department. Assign marketing team members to shadow sales people, attend their meetings and develop an in-depth understanding of what the sales team does and what support they need to be successful. Create a charter/service level agreement to ensure accountability.

3. Common language: Does your sales team use the same terms as marketers? Do they understand what you mean by a "qualified lead"? What is a "target customer"? How should leads be scored? If not, reeducate urgently.

4. Map the sales process and match collateral to each stage. Redesign collateral to help move the prospect along the sales funnel.

5. Areas of overlap: Identify the points of friction between sales and marketing. Where are the handoffs between teams? Are sales and marketing roles/responsibilities clear to all? Iron out kinks.

6. Zero in on sourcing leads that convert best. It's quality vs. quantity; no sales team will thank you for generating a high volume of poor quality leads that consume resources and kill productivity.

7. Alignment of KPIs: Make sure everyone understands how each team's performance will be measured and held accountable. Make these KPIs public and tracked regularly.

8. Compensation: Aligning marketing compensation with sales goals can encourage the right behaviors. For example, qualified leads generated, completed meetings/calls, conversions to sales.

9. Review performance and process regularly. Build an effective feedback loop between sales and marketing, celebrate shared wins, analyze shortfalls, trouble-shoot points of friction as a collective.

Lastly, Crumby wants you to ask these questions to your sales team:

  • Why do clients choose us? What questions do they ask?
  • What objections do you hear? Why do prospects choose competitors?
  • What are clients asking us to do that we don't already do?
  • How else could the marketing team better support you in closing more sales?

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…