The relationship between the VP of Marketing and the VP of Sales is one of the most important, yet least cherished, organizational dynamics. Too often a source of conflict, the benefits of prioritizing and closing this departmental divide — and fostering a state of functional harmony — is crucial to any company's ambitions.
According to Maria Pergolino (@InboundMarketer) at Apttus:
I think that sales and marketing alignment happens when both parties realize they are trying to achieve the exact same outcome. It’s almost unimaginable that two groups working towards the exact same thing can have such different opinions, but they often do. The key to getting everyone aligned is agreeing on the goal first, and then discussing the options and tradeoffs for getting there. If you start out a discussion by asking what the lead score should be you’re never going to agree, but if you start the discussion asking how much capacity the business development reps have or what it takes to turn a prospect into a deal then the best way to score leads will emerge."
With that in mind, let's get started.
Discuss Economic and Cultural Differences
It's natural to expect strains to appear between sales and marketing divisions. As their respective functions and goals develop independent complexity, these strains become magnified. As a result, meetings become about resolving conflicts rather than improving cooperation. By setting up processes and rules designed to prevent disputes, meetings can become more reflective and progressive. From here, the departments can take part in joint planning, training and goal setting.
Establish Your Customer Needs
Defining customer needs is the first step in creating common standards for sales leads and opportunities. If this is agreed on, then marketing can help the sales team to develop value propositions. If it’s marketing’s first job to understand the need of the customers, their second is to communicate this with organized templates and customized guides so sales can work their magic with a clear road map. To keep the VP of Sales happy, customer needs cannot go undefined.
Agree on What Makes a Lead a Lead
The VP of Sales is experienced in selling hard. But they also know that selling hard should also mean selling smart, and to sell smart you need a system in place that prioritizes your efforts towards your best sales leads — a system based on a lead’s likelihood to spend. Lead scoring …
- Empowers marketing to run campaigns based on the same data as sales
- Ensures sales and marketing are always pulling in the same direction
- Drives results for the overall business with an identifiable strategy
Keep the Lead Flow Steady
Organizations are now equipped with proven internet marketing methodologies with which to generate repeatable and scalable results. It's important for marketers to keep the quality of leads in mind, not just the number of leads. Steady, quality leads win the race, as well as the affection of sales.
Integrate Sales and Marketing Metrics
If marketing and sales can develop and implement shared metrics, then the possibility of schisms between the two departments can be minimized — goals are discussed, targets and successes are shared and budgeting becomes less contentious. Reward systems, common processes and mechanisms for continuous improvement shift what might be termed as aligned relationships to integrated and, ultimately, successful collaboration.
About the Author
Jessica Cross is director of marketing for Fliptop.
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