Bridging the Gap: How to Unify Your Sales and Marketing Teams
When you’re running or managing a manufacturing business, trying to bridge the gap between your sales and marketing teams often seems like you’ve jumped into the middle of The War of Great Complaint. Your sales people say your marketing team isn’t providing enough (or the right) lead information, while your marketing team gripes about how your sales team “just doesn’t get it.”
A lot of the time, Team Marketing is working completely independently from Team Sales, their wires only crossing to exchange tiny blips of lead information.
This disconnect means dropped leads and lost customers. Period.
Here’s the deal: Your sales processes and marketing processes must be integrated to be successful. Today’s modern consumer is jumping into your sales cycle at a much earlier point in the process, and if your sales and marketing teams aren’t working together to understand exactly when to nail the sale, your manufacturing business is missing out.
It’s called Growth Cycle Marketing and it’s how we explain today’s longer, information-saturated buy cycle: The decision to buy isn’t a moment; it’s a process.
This article will explain how to get your sales and marketing teams on board and on the same page, facing forward together and into the future—so your business gets more sales and more money. To really capitalize on the Growth Cycle Marketing goldmine, read all about it here. Download our FREE Growth Cycle Marketing whitepaper.
Before you begin, keep in mind: it’s not just complaining…
As manager, business owner and/or CEO, you will likely come away from the following unification strategy with a clearer picture of the major pain points from both the sales team’s point of view AND the marketing team’s point of view. While, yes, sometimes it just sounds like complaining, take your teams’ pain points to heart: they are the foundational reasons explaining WHY your teams aren’t working together to reel in more sales.
Bridging the sales/marketing gap isn’t going to be easy, but trust us, it is SO worth it in the end. Be aware this is going to take a little legwork, so roll up your sleeves and get ready…
Defining a Qualified Lead
Effective communication between sales and marketing is a two-way street. Much of the divisiveness occurs due to a lack of information, specifically: quality lead information. Sales will say marketing isn’t providing qualified leads and marketing will say sales isn’t doing enough with the leads they’ve provided. Enough already!
Here’s your solution: Clearly Define that Lead…
- Sit down with your sales team and your marketing team (separately!) and ask each to define what a qualified lead looks like. List each piece of information required to identify the lead as qualified.
- Choose a Sales Team Lead and a Marketing Team Lead. Based on the results of the separate team meetings, ask these two individuals to consolidate the information and write a policy document that clearly defines a qualified lead.
You now have a Qualified Lead Definition policy document. Standardized company documents provide both clarity and accountability: both essential elements of a well-functioning manufacturing company.
New Campaign/New Content Alerts
Team Marketing isn’t worthless and Team Sales isn’t lazy—although sometimes that’s how they want to see each other, often when that couldn’t be further from the truth. The fault in these damaging misconceptions lies in the lack of communication from both sides. Again, two-way street.
The secret to engaging potential customers at each point in the Growth Cycle Marketing buy cycle is to develop the right message at the right time and through the right channel. How do your sales and marketing teams do this successfully? By stirring up communication and interaction with potential and current customers, namely by creating and offering up great content.
Don’t limit your view: Content is a broad umbrella and it isn’t solely created by your marketing team. While your marketing team is busy busting out an awesome content marketing strategy, complete with blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, and FAQs, your sales team is also using and generating great content every day in the form of sales letters, product guides, technical specs, PowerPoint presentations, at-a-glance info sheets, and much more.
Unfortunately, oftentimes the sales and marketing teams aren’t aware of all this content available to nudge the customer to the point of the sale. Maybe sales doesn’t know there’s already a whitepaper available all about the topic that most interests their prospect. Maybe marketing isn’t aware that sales created a great presentation full of sweet statistics they might use in their next infographic.
The point is when your potential customer has a question about your products and services, they want more information. If you already have a fancy, shiny document outlining exactly the information they need, pointing that qualified lead in the right direction works wonders for both sales and marketing.
The customer is happy, informed and ready to purchase. Sales is happy, marketing is happy, and your company makes the big bucks. Win!
Here’s your solution: Get the Communication Flowing…
- Get together with your head marketer and your lead sales person. Develop a simple procedure intended to alert each team when new content is produced.
- Your best bet is to create a simple list to be used as a Company Content Resources guide. Use a Google Doc or cloud doc that everyone can update in real time and across your network. Your list should be in spreadsheet form so your team can easily add, sort and categorize information.
- Don’t forget to include a link to the location of each resource for easy access on the fly.
- To compile all your existing content to start your Company Content Resources guide, you’re probably going to want to snag your intern for a few days. This project can be easily completed through 5-minute interviews with each member of the sales and marketing team.
Creating Consistent Content
Any great branding strategist will tell you that your branding must be consistent across all platforms to be effective. Your brand voice, look and feel should be clear and present across every piece of content your company produces. That means ANY and EVERY piece of content—including ALL your company’s communications.
At each stage in the Growth Cycle Marketing process, your potential or current customer wants content tailored to their experience thus far with your business. This means they come to expect a certain look and feel with every new interaction. If your sales letters give that lead a totally different feel than the content they’ve already experienced, they’re not going to like it. In fact, that potential customer is likely to be completely turned off.
Here’s your solution: Set the Scene & Share the Story…
- Set up brief quarterly meetings to outline upcoming marketing campaigns, sales activities and team promo events/tradeshows.
- I repeat: brief meeting. The purpose of this team meeting is to share information and to get everyone on the same page. If there are any questions about how to integrate sales and marketing promotion materials and communications for any of the upcoming campaigns, activities or events, take the conversation offline and into separate smaller meetings with the team members who are immediately involved.
- Marketers and salespeople heading up analytics should also offer up any additional metrics, stats and insights into your target audience, based on the performance measurements of last quarter’s campaigns, activities, and events.
For example, let’s say Team Marketing is launching an email campaign in which they’re picking up and qualifying lead information from the individuals who attend a free, informational webinar. Team Marketing will outline the process and details so Team Sales understands what that particular lead is looking for and how they might serve up the best follow-up information to that person at their first point of contact post-webinar. Both teams offer target audience insights based on what was effective (and what was not) over the course of last quarter’s promotions. Team Sales will inform Team Marketing of any additional qualifying lead information they require to effectively nail the sale after the lead completes said webinar. If further discussion is required, the discussion should be taken offline, and a separate meeting with the project leaders should be scheduled, if necessary.
Getting Buy-In from Both Teams
In our 2014 Benchmark Study on Marketing for Manufacturers, manufacturing company owners and managers like you noted that just 12% of their marketing budget is allocated to Sales Training. When your marketing dollars are more frequently spent on lead generation, brand building, and retention, bridging the gap and unifying your sales and marketing teams via the aforementioned strategy is a low-cost alternative to all-out sales training. Plus it directly contributes to lead generation, brand building, and retention—quadruple whammy!
But Team Marketing and Team Sales aren’t going to work well together if they can’t play nice. A well-planned kickoff meeting is essential, and it’s your job to make it effective. When explaining this strategy and the importance of unifying Team Sales and Team Marketing, be sure to list the benefits each team will experience when everyone works together. Your people will come out of the meeting pumped and ready to get to it.
Here’s your solution: Outline the Unification Benefits to Both Teams…
Benefits to Team Sales:
- Better, more qualified leads
- More resources and tools to effectively engage and sell to and nab more customers
- Deeper insights into needs and pain points of target audience
- More methods of reaching prospects through integrated marketing campaigns such as email, social and access to online content
Benefits to Team Marketing:
- Better understanding of which content and campaigns most effectively produce the most high quality leads
- More confidence in ability to spearhead and produce successful marketing campaigns
- Access to additional content that can be shared and/or repurposed for content creation
- Improved communication with sales resources ensures they’ll create their most successful marketing campaigns yet
Completing the Bridge
A clear understanding of Growth Cycle Marketing will ensure your sales and marketing teams understand WHY it’s essential to work together to generate more leads and close more sales and HOW to reach today’s modern information-hungry consumers.
Each stage in the growth cycle process, from Awareness to Advocacy (and everything in between) requires precise content from BOTH your sales and marketing teams, at exactly the right time—or neither Team Sales nor Team Marketing will be effective in the long-run. While your team may be sharp as a tack, their sales and marketing knowledge base may be way out of date. Getting everyone on the same page often starts with a little extra training. Cultivate Communications can help.
This FREE Growth Cycle Marketing whitepaper contains information to ensure your sales and marketing teams offer up the right message at the right time and through the right channel—at every stage in the Growth Cycle Marketing process.
You’ll see more success, productivity and effectiveness within BOTH your sales and marketing teams when they unify and work together within the Growth Cycle Marketing framework.