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Marketing and sales – a love-hate relationship? – With our 7 tips to a better alignment of marketing and sales

Bringing a company on the road to success and achieving sustainable corporate success are two major challenges.

A foundation for this can be laid in the company organization, i. e. the medium- to a long-term structuring of the company and the tasks arising from it. Since each company has its own individual process, the goal should be to efficiently handle these processes in an organizational structure both within and between the individual organization areas.

In every B2B company, regardless of which product or service they offer, the following value creation process occurs:

For the management, it is important to get this process going and to branch the interfaces perfectly into each other. As the diagram already suggests, there are certain dependencies between the areas.

In the area of B2B customer acquisition, two teams often clash more frequently in most companies: marketing and sales. Depending on the form of organization, the conflicts are different.

Goals and challenges of the two departments

Especially in marketing, the areas of responsibility and ambitions are very varied and therefore differ from company to company. They range from tasks in the field of market analysis to generating and qualifying interested leads and the associated lead management. In the vast majority of cases, the basic idea of marketing lies in the consistent alignment of the entire company with the needs of the market. Particularly as a result of the increasing focus and development towards digital channels and measures, marketing is increasingly exposed not only to qualitative objectives such as image enhancement but also to quantitative key indicators (KPIs). This can lead to areas of conflict between very short-term and long-term goal settings.

Everything in sales is the same as before? Yes and no.

There is still a very clear and at least hard to achieve Goal in sales: sales. It’s all about how the service or product finds its way to the paying customer. Nevertheless, market conditions have changed considerably in recent years. Through the internet and the associated possibilities, sales staff have gained access to a large number of potential customers (leads). At the same time, the masses are causing problems for many distributors:

This is precisely why more and more companies are trying to align their marketing and sales departments more closely with each other. The idea: Marketing teams are to generate leads through various measures in order to hand them over to the sales department in a next step. The resulting problem is as old as it is: The sales department accuses the marketing team that the handed leads are unqualified and do not want to buy anything at all. At the same time, the marketing management complains at regular intervals that the leads they send are not carefully processed and that the sales department does not generate enough deals.

In this case, both teams follow the same goal: transferring interested persons into customers and keep them for as long as possible.

Marketing collects and qualifies leads and then passes them to sales as a qualified opportunity. In the next step, Sales is responsible for taking over these leads and converting them to customers. So both teams are not only pursuing the same goal, they are dependent on each other.

But why are there issues?

However, as sales and marketing often have different perspectives on the goal – marketing is usually more strategically long-term, while sales tend to focus on the next deal at short notice in order to earn a commission. Moreover, these conflicts are also historical in many companies. Products and services have grown over time, as well as sales and marketing processes. There are no more identical customer profiles (Buyer Personas) and the lead process is not exactly defined. Appreciation also differs greatly.

“They only make PowerPoint slides.” “Marketing has no idea what our customers need.” “Aren’t they just organizing events?”

marketing sales time

Marketing, on the other hand:”Our distribution? They’re just driving around!” “You’re resistant to counseling and then complain about missing deals.”

All these different perspectives are extremely contra-productive, even with the same ambition. Especially through and through with the possibilities of digitization, the cooperation between marketing and sales is no longer just a “nice to have”, it has rather developed into a “must have”.

That’s how Marketing and sales work better together:

  • Common strategy: In a first step, both parties should come together and the respective department heads should be involved in the planning of the other strategy. In the best possible case, these arrangements result in a jointly developed objective with clear responsibilities.
  • Regular meetings: Even during operational business, they help to talk to each other rather than to talk about each other. Procedures can be discussed and adjustments can be made.
  • Uniform understanding of products, the market and buyers. Through constant updates of the teams about new customers and insights from the markets, one reaches more precise profiles of the buyer Personas and can improve the target group address effectively.
  • Definition of Customer Journey: These phases and the associated lifecycle stages of the respective lead must fit the company. This means that content should be provided for each phase of the customer’s journey so that it can be managed along the customer’s journey.
  • Handover process – probably the most difficult part: When does marketing hand over a lead to sales?  When is the customer even ready to talk to a sales employee? Many companies make the mistake of contacting customers too early because they don’t pay much attention to qualification. Here, constant discussions and adjustments are urgently needed in order to achieve better results.
  • Marketing Automation – Marketing Automation offers a wide range of possibilities such as automated follow-ups and lead scoring to support the recording and evaluation of the criteria agreed between marketing and sales.
  • Transparency – Open and shared dashboards create a high level of transparency and therefore offer the opportunity to simplify reporting for management.

How should transparency and reporting look like?

hubspot example for a dashboard

(Source: https://www.hubspot.com/ )

Today, the popular CRM systems (Hubspot, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics) offer the ability to create dashboards within a few steps which increase the transparency and cooperation between marketing and sales.

By opening up the entire marketing and sales funnel and making it visible to every employee, problem areas can be quickly identified and actions can be determined, for example, sales may require additional content to show their expert status to customers, to appear as an expert in social media, which will have a positive impact on the conversion rate.

In addition, marketing and sales can save valuable time. Using common dashboards makes it easier to report to the management and saves some meetings because all data is available in a bundled form.

This helps not only marketing and sales but also the entire company as it can work more efficiently.

Now it’s up to you:

We hope that you can improve the alignment of your marketing and sales with our tips so that they work more efficiently.