They’re on the front lines every day having direct conversations with current and prospective customers about wants and needs. Yet businesses often overlook input from their sales teams when developing their marketing strategies. Without those real-time, market-driven insights, there’s a good chance your marketing will be based more on assumptions and educated guesses than actual data. As a result, your ability to align sales and marketing will be absolutely critical for driving growth.

For large companies, many sales and marketing functions continue to be siloed either due to organizational complexity or legacy issues. For smaller companies, the challenge is often a lack of bandwidth or internal resources to make sure both units are actually talking to each other. In both cases, marketing strategy is often pushed down from the top creating a sizable disconnect between both units.

Clearly Define Your Business Goals

Creating a unified vision for your organization around sales and marketing and creating sustainable value for your customers hinges first on your ability to articulate your business goals. Before you can get bogged down in the details about what qualifies as a lead or how you define an inquiry, you need to take a broader look at what you’re hoping to accomplish and the value you place on each desired outcome. You can’t just focus on “sales”—you need to identify your core focus areas based on profitability, customer demand, and potential growth opportunities.

Engage Your Sales Team for Input & Feedback

During this process it’s helpful to have guided discussions and solicit structured feedback from your sales team. You need to understand your sales pipeline and work together to explore whether your sales process will support your top-level marketing strategy.

If you use sales tracking software or have a dedicated consumer affairs department, regularly monitor feedback from consumers to identify any trends or potential product issues. Where it makes sense, marketing can also join sales on customer calls to gain a better understanding of their language, pain points, and common questions—all information that should be used to fuel your marketing efforts.

Sales and marketing alignment requires a clearly defined internal process and an effective leads management system. To ensure leads have the best opportunity to close, marketing must have an exact picture of what a qualified lead looks like and the sales team needs to be equipped with exactly what to say or do once they get the lead. When expectations and communication are clear, sales and marketing can start to truly flourish.

John Rosso, Founder & CEO of Sandler Training by Peak Performance Management

Identify Areas of Need

It’s also critically important to understand how marketing can do a better job of supporting the sales function. Here you want to know what types of information your customers want and where they typically go to get it. For example, you can spend a tremendous amount of time generating white papers but if your customers either can’t find them or your sales team isn’t using them as part of your sales process, that’s likely time that could be spent elsewhere.

When working with clients, we typically spend a lot of time up front understanding the sales and marketing process. In particular, we want to know:

What's working well?

What isn't?

What are the most common questions you’re getting from customers?

How can marketing do a better job of helping your sales team?

Are there any potential opportunities/threats based on competitor insights?

Answers to these questions help us guide marketing strategy discussions and prioritize the need for supporting materials such as use cases, white papers, case studies, etc. We’re also able to identify the best marketing channels based on overarching business goals and customer insights.

Get Buy-In From Your Sales Team

Whether you’re a large multinational corporation or a small, family-owned business, you can’t force marketing onto your sales team. To be successful, they need to be a key part of the process. They’re the ones interacting with current and prospective customers every single day. They’re in the best position to validate your ideas. They’re also the ones who are ultimately responsible for executing your marketing strategy. Without their buy-in, the performance of your marketing campaigns and your sales efforts will ultimately suffer.

Weekly (if possible) or monthly (at a minimum), schedule a meeting with sales and marketing to review the performance of recent marketing campaigns and explore ideas going forward. Once sales and marketing both have a seat at the table, you’ll be better equipped to deliver more value to your customers.