Are Sales and Marketing Working Together to Drive Revenue Growth?

Driving your business takes a highly tuned revenue engine: your Sales and Marketing team. How is it functioning? Is it running smoothly or is it in need of a tune up? When you look at the numbers and sit in meetings with the two departments do you have a sense they are in sync? Energized? Speaking the same language? Do they share the same views of the strategy, market and customer?

Multiple research studies are providing a compass. The studies indicate that over 60 percent of the buying process for many business products or services is concluded before the buyer contacts a sales person. In some product categories the percentages is a lot higher. The roles of Marketing and Sales have to adjust to how the buyer is buying.

While volumes have been written and continue to be written about Sales and Marketing alignment, Cerius tapped the knowledge of its marketing and sales executives for this paper to give CEOs a priority list of questions to start the assessment of their organization.

Do you know if there’s a bottleneck in you revenue generation process?

If Sales and Marketing have aligned their respective processes to the stages of the buying process, and if the funnel metrics are providing a way to model and report on the progress, you will be able to see where the bottlenecks are. Marketing needs to listen to the customer to understand their purchasing process. This, in turn, needs to be communicated to the sales team, which then must align its process to the buying process stages. Finally, using the funnel math, they’ll be able to see that leads are not progressing from stage 2 to stage 3, for example. They can then determine the reason, and take the targeted and correct action.

Why it’s important and what it suggests:  If there’s a bottleneck in your process, it needs to be identified and solved before you can produce more output: closed sales. Throwing more money into the lead generation pipeline may not solve the bottleneck. Making product modifications or hiring additional sales staff may not solve the bottleneck.  Without this visibility and transparency when revenue lags the usual explanations arise: Sales isn’t closing enough, Marketing isn’t generating good enough leads. The truth can only be found using more sophisticated funnel metrics.

Are you involved in two-way conversations with prospects and customers online?

No company can afford to ignore the realities of the Internet and social media. Where your customers are, is where you need to be. If you do not have a highly visible presence, your competitor is there, taking your place. This includes monitoring what people are saying about you.

Why it’s important and what it suggests:

Remember that the buying process has changed for all customers, whether B2B or B2C. Internet content and social media are where your customers are getting information to make their purchasing decisions. Sales and Marketing teams need to be proactive with online information, and be prepared to respond quickly if the situation warrants. Treat it as a sales or marketing telephone call that everyone is listening in on; an unreturned call is unacceptable and now everyone will know about it.

Is there a gap between company strategy and the action plans produced by Sales and Marketing?

It’s not just crucial that Sales and Marketing be aligned with one another – it’s also crucial that Sales and Marketing be aligned with company strategy and goals. Ideally, Marketing and Sales develop a plan together, tying it closely to the product strategy or company strategy. The plan should clearly depict how Sales and Marketing will work together to generate demand and revenue, as well as include key performance metrics.

Why it’s important and what it suggests:

Involvement in company planning keeps everyone on the same page. The Sales and Marketing action plan needs to speak to and support the company strategic plan. You cannot establish accountability if Sales and Marketing metrics don’t make sense for the overall company strategy.

Additional Observations

  • Pay attention to nuances in your sales and marketing reports – not just numbers. For example, if you utilize the funnel concept for your sales and marketing process, does your sales and marketing team see itself working with one funnel, or two? If they see themselves working with a marketing funnel, and then a separate sales funnel, that is a sign they are not working in alignment!
  • Support your sales and marketing team with technology tools and training. This applies to everything from a dynamic website, to the latest CRM and marketing automation systems. Technology is key to full alignment and measuring what matters. Make sure marketing has access to the CRM system and that all demand generation and nurturing programs are integrated with the CRM system.

Overall, as stated by one of our interim executives, “Enlightened companies are generating revenue growth by Sales and Marketing working seamlessly together.” Your answers to these questions can help you assess whether your revenue engine needs merely a tune-up, or a major overhaul.

Read Part 1 of this series Sales and Marketing Alignment

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