The Manufacturer’s Guide To Sales & Marketing Alignment
Sales and marketing alignment is essential for any manufacturer looking to improve lead generation and overall business performance. When these two departments are working together, they can create a powerful engine for growth.
However, aligning sales and marketing can be a challenge. In many organisations, these departments have different goals, strategies, and processes. The people within them also often have different dynamics, personalities and priorities.
This guide will help manufacturers understand the benefits of aligning sales and marketing and offer practical advice on how to achieve alignment in five steps. By following these steps, manufacturers can create a cohesive team that is better able to generate high-quality leads and turn them into paying customers! First, let’s take a look at the problems that can occur in a manufacturing business if sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned:
Sales refers to marketing as the ‘colouring-in department’
That’s right. A common misconception amongst sales (and other departments) is that the marketing team is merely the ‘colouring-in department’. While marketing does require creative flair and to take care of how the brand looks, it is a blend of both art and science. Marketers are responsible for analysing traffic sources, improving conversion rates, reporting on ROI and most importantly, generating leads! Overlooking your marketing department and mislabelling them is a big mistake that can often cost businesses greatly.
The sales team isn’t following leads up
Another common issue in manufacturing businesses is marketing not believing sales are following up with leads quick enough, if at all! Research by Gartner reports that up to 70% of sales leads are not properly leveraged or are completely ignored. The lack of closed-loop reporting means marketing has no visibility of how and when follow-up happens, causing further friction between sales and marketing.
The marketing team isn’t providing enough leads
We’ve seen time and time again sales teams who don’t believe they are being given ‘enough’ leads and this is the reason they aren’t meeting their sales quota. However, more attention often needs to be paid to the quality of the leads, how they are being followed up and how sales-ready they are when reaching your sales team. Each of these issues can be remedied by sales and marketing working better together.
What is sales and marketing alignment?
Sales and marketing alignment is the process of bringing together the communication, strategy and goals of sales and marketing so they can operate as a unified team.
What does marketing do for sales?
When it comes to generating sales and leads, marketing has the most responsibility. Marketing should be responsible for creating demand and awareness of your products or services while generating quality leads that are then fed through to sales.
Marketing is also responsible for educating and nurturing leads until they are ready to be presented to salespeople. This might include providing FAQs and blogs, inviting prospects to educational events or making prospects aware of products and services that are suited to them.
What does sales do for marketing?
When it comes to what sales does for marketing, one of the most important responsibilities is to turn those potential leads into real opportunities and close sales. However, salespeople also have a responsibility to provide feedback on the leads they’re receiving. Information such as how high quality the leads are, what kind of questions were asked by the prospect and which content is needed to help close sales are all crucial to help improve marketing performance.
5 Tips For Ultimate Sales And Marketing Alignment
1. Align goals and objectives
Sales and marketing are two key aspects of any business, working together to achieve the ultimate goal: driving revenue and closing sales. In order for these two functions to work effectively together, it is essential that their goals and objectives are well-aligned.
This means that both sales and marketing must have clearly defined targets, as well as a mutual understanding of how those goals will be met through strategy and action.
Through strong alignment from beginning to end, companies can truly reap the benefits of an effective sales-marketing partnership.
As always, these goals should be data driven and worked backwards from the number of sales/amount of revenue required. E.g. if the sales team has a monthly target of £150,000, think about:
- how many opportunities need to be generated?
- how many meetings need to be sat to produce those opportunities?
- how many leads need to be generated to produce those meetings?
This will really help bring your teams together and allow them to focus on one common goal – meaning everyone is pushing in the right direction!
2. Agree on a sales and marketing process
Agreeing on a sales and marketing process is a crucial part of alignment. This process should outline how the two departments work together, making sure that each has a clear understanding of the other's responsibilities and activities. For example, it should specify which parts of the sales funnel are the responsibility of marketing, and where sales take over to close deals and engage with customers directly.
Additionally, this process should also articulate positive communication and collaboration practices to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks or comes as a nasty surprise to either team.
Ultimately, having a well-defined agreement on sales and marketing processes will help ensure lasting alignment between the two teams, resulting in improved productivity, better communication and stronger company results.
3. Put an SLA in place
A service level agreement (SLA) is a critical step for aligning your sales and marketing efforts. The SLA should identify exactly what marketing promises to provide sales and what sales promises to provide marketing.
The SLA should clearly identify the expectations for performance for both teams. By setting clear expectations and holding each team accountable, the SLA can help to ensure that sales and marketing are working together effectively. In addition, the SLA can help to resolve disputes between the two teams by providing a clear process for addressing disagreements.
The marketing part of the SLA might include information on:
- How many leads they will generate for sales per month.
- The information the leads need to have been exposed to before being passed to sales.
- The way in which leads will be passed over to sales.
The sales part of the SLA might include:
- The window of time leads will be followed up within (e.g. all leads will be followed up within one working day).
- The frequency of reports back to marketing on lead quality/stage.
- The way in which leads will be followed up with.
4. Include sales in content creation
When it comes to content creation, salespeople can be a valuable asset. Because they spend so much time talking to customers, they have a wealth of insights into what buyers need and want.
Salespeople can also offer valuable insights into customer challenges and product capabilities. By including salespeople in the content creation process, businesses can get closer to their target customers and better understand their needs. In turn, this can help marketers create more relevant and targeted content that resonates with their audience.
Asking your sales team which questions they regularly answer is a great way to get an insight into which content you should create. This is a win-win meaning marketers can create content that will allow prospects to self-serve, while your sales team save time by referring back to this content instead of repeatedly answering the same questions again and again!
Salespeople are also often able to provide feedback on how customers and prospects engage with content. Whether they find your website useful or difficult to use, how engaging your brochures are, or how many questions they get after prospects have attended your webinar/online event. This information will allow marketing teams to continually improve content to help shorten the sales cycle and provide prospects with exactly what they want.
Having this feedback loop when it comes to content creation is a key way to continually develop your content and improve marketing results!
5. Invest in a reporting system
A cohesive sales and marketing system is essential for any business that wants to be successful. Such a system connects traffic analytics, content engagement reporting, sales conversion rates and sales pipeline data, providing a complete picture of how the different parts of the business are performing. The key part of this system is that it links your CRM and website together to provide the ultimate visibility. This kind of information is essential for making informed decisions about where to allocate resources and how to improve performance.
Using systems such as HubSpot means your marketing team will have visibility of:
- which content is driving sales and converting customers.
- which traffic sources are providing the best quality leads.
- which content/pages prospects visit most before purchasing.
- which products and services are driving the most engagement.
A closed-loop platform provides salespeople with visibility of:
- which products and services a prospect might be interested in.
- how ready to buy a prospect is.
- which marketing collateral a prospect/customers has been exposed to.
- when prospects are looking at pricing/terms and conditions pages.
Without upgrading your tech stack to provide a single source of truth and closed-loop reporting, your sales and marketing teams will struggle to come together at the most important part of the process!
Want to learn more? Attend our upcoming Double Your Profits Workshop for a full breakdown and financial model to help double your profits with smart marketing. The workshop includes information on:
- how to supercharge your lead generation
- how you can improve sales and marketing conversion rates
- what your marketing dashboard should include
- how technology can improve the customer lifetime value of your existing clients.
You'll be taken on a journey using a real business model, real numbers and personas that you have at your own company so it's completely relatable.