In both sports and business, the undeniable power of teamwork is a well-known secret to success. However, a curious rivalry persists between sales and marketing teams, preventing businesses from reaching their full potential. Uniting them is the key to unlocking maximum revenue potential. These strategies for aligning sales with your content marketing solution will help you lay the foundation for this transformation.
Understanding the Disconnect
For generations, businesses have grappled with a persistent challenge – aligning their sales and marketing teams. Both departments share the common objective of driving revenue growth and customer engagement. But they often operate in parallel worlds. A recent LinkedIn survey found that more than 97% of sales and marketing professionals struggle to achieve alignment, highlighting this long standing issue.
So, why is there such a significant disconnect between two teams who should, in theory, have the same goal? While the answer is far from simple, there are a few key reasons sales and marketing teams struggle to see eye-to-eye. Let’s start by taking a look at sales teams. Short-term revenue goals help drive sales teams, whether they’re commissions or specific targets.
On the other hand, we have marketing teams with long-term strategies focused on creating brand awareness and nurturing leads for sustainable growth. Unlike their sales counterparts, marketing teams typically aren’t financially compensated for achieving these goals.
Think of it in terms of a sports analogy. Organizations have a team of 100m sprinters and marathon runners moving along the same track. Each team will have vastly different target times and strategies to get there. But, there will inevitably be times when they overlap or cause the other team to stumble and fall. These mishaps show up as organizational inefficiencies, inconsistent messaging, wasted resources, and frustrated customers — costing over one trillion dollars annually.
Importance of Aligning Sales and Your Content Marketing Solution
Surprisingly, it’s not just two teams running different races that lead to misalignment. Instead, it’s about how these differences impact the customer journey and the overall experience.
Let’s say you run a software company that offers a variety of products and services. Your content marketing team invests in high-quality, educational content to attract and engage potential customers. Over time, these valuable insights generate a list of leads for your sales team. Instead of meeting leads where they are on their sales journey, sales teams resort to cold calls, generic sales pitches, and aggressive sales tactics.
From the customer’s point of view, the transition from informative, “no strings attached” content to an aggressive sales pitch can be disorienting. All of a sudden, they’re bombarded with generic messages that don’t match the content they’ve previously engaged with. This leads to an experience that feels fragmented, frustrating, and devoid of personalization, which falls short of the smooth, valuable, and personalized experience they anticipated.
The lack of consistency not only breeds confusion but also drives them to explore alternative solutions that cater to their specific needs. With so much competition at play, ensuring engaged prospects don’t fall through the cracks is crucial — and aligning your sales and marketing teams is the only way to guarantee a seamless and personalized customer experience.
Practical Strategies for Alignment
While aligning these historically opposing departments is no easy feat, the results speak for themselves. Aligning sales and a content marketing solution generates 32% higher revenue, retains 36% more customers, and improves win rates by 38%. And these strategies will help you get there.
Communication and Collaboration
Unsurprisingly, communication is the main obstacle standing in the way of sales and marketing alignment. And this makes sense, considering one-third of B2B sales and marketing teams don’t have a standing meeting. Naturally, the first step to rectify this involves scheduling regular meetings. Whether you meet quarterly, monthly, or weekly, these meetings should serve as a forum for both teams to discuss strategies, share updates, evaluate their success (based on mutual KPIs), discuss issues, and adjust as necessary.
For remote teams who wouldn’t otherwise see each other outside of these meetings, consider creating a ‘Smarketing’ Slack channel. Use this to encourage consistent and informal inter-departmental communication and support long-term collaboration.
Establish Shared KPIs and Mutual Goals
Effective communication alone isn’t enough to ensure the alignment of your sales and content marketing teams. To achieve a shared objective, both departments must work towards common key performance indicators (KPIs). Among the crucial KPIs to establish are the Marketing Quality Lead (MQL) to opportunity ratio, which assesses the efficiency of the marketing team in qualifying leads for the sales team, and the opportunity to customer ratio, which measures the sales team’s ability to move leads further along the sales cycle.
These KPIs provide valuable information that both teams can use to optimize performance and create a robust pipeline of quality leads.
Consider implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to enhance collaboration and alignment even further. This collaboration allows both teams to access, update, and share customer data in real-time and minimizes redundancies. And for those times when the objectives of your sales and marketing team inevitably clash, leveraging data analytics like engagement metrics and conversion rates will be your saving grace. After all, it’s pretty difficult to argue with hard data.
Leveraging technology to automate lead nurturing campaigns, follow-up emails, and lead scoring is useful for disjointed sales and marketing teams. Automation tools prevent prospects from falling through the cracks. They also ensure leads go to the sales team at the right time and with the appropriate context. Leaning on technology will create a smoother and more efficient workflow between sales and marketing, promote collaboration, and ultimately lead to better outcomes.
Content Creation and Utilization
It’s no secret that marketing collateral like product brochures and case studies support the sales process. These assets must be readily accessible to the sales teams to empower their efforts. But the sales team isn’t going to use the marketing content if they don’t feel it’s useful.
To ensure these marketing efforts don’t go to waste, sales teams must actively participate in the content creation process. They’re the ones who engage directly with potential customers, and their insights into pain points, objections, and frequently asked questions are invaluable.
With these first-hand accounts in mind, marketing can create content that deeply resonates with potential customers. This unified approach ensures your content becomes a powerful asset in your sales arsenal, contributes to more leads, and drives revenue.
Challenges and Solutions
The enduring conflicts between these two departments often distill into three key challenges: communication, messaging, and metrics. So, let’s delve deeper into these challenges and discover potential solutions to foster inter-departmental collaboration and alignment.
Understandably, communication gaps and collaboration issues can stand in the way of progress. But there’s a way to tackle these challenges practically. By regularly meeting, sharing data, and training, sales and marketing teams can bridge the divide and collaborate more effectively.
Messaging alignment represents another hurdle, affecting 97% of sales and marketing professionals. When marketing creates content without sales input, the content might not reasonably address customer needs.
On the flip side, when sales create content without marketing, brand voice and consistency can suffer, hurting brand credibility and confusing your audience. The solution? A ‘Smarketing Template Guide’ that includes brand voice and tone guidelines, agreed-upon messaging, and sales-driven pain points. Creating a unified document and approach builds trust and understanding between teams while ensuring your messaging remains consistent.
Aligning sales and marketing strategies can be nearly impossible with different goals and metrics. While sales focus on immediate revenue and short-term targets, marketing plays the long game, building brand recognition and lead generation.
Understandably, this misalignment leads to differences in reporting structures, KPIs, and objectives. Agreeing upon shared metrics like sales qualified leads will minimize conflict by ensuring both teams are working towards the same goal.
Measuring alignment success is as important as the alignment itself. Brands can use key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge this success. Doing so helps them keep a close eye on metrics like:
- Lead conversion rates
- Revenue attributed to marketing efforts
- Customer retention rates
These KPIs provide concrete evidence of how well sales and marketing work together to meet common objectives.
However, it’s also important to regularly assess and refine these strategies to adapt to evolving market dynamics and customer preferences. This continuous effort guarantees that alignment remains a dependable revenue driver. It also amplifies customer experiences and upholds long-term success.
Race to Revenue: Uniting Sales and a Content Marketing Solution for Business Success
We often hear that teamwork makes the dream work, which is certainly true in business. While sales and marketing may traditionally run parallel races, aligning their objectives is as crucial as relay sprinters working harmoniously on the track. Having a content marketing solution that supports cross-departmental communication, establishes shared KPIs, and focuses on consistent messaging will set the course for sustained and flourishing success. Start chasing down your 2024 revenue goals by scheduling your first smarketing meeting today.
About the Author:
Kali Armstrong is a passionate freelance writer dedicated to helping others share their unique stories. With expertise in content writing and copywriting, she skillfully crafts engaging materials for businesses seeking to refine their brand voice and expand their reach. Kali’s commitment to creating value-driven content strategically designed to attract premium clientele has made her a go-to resource for many clients across diverse industries. Check out her writer profile here: Kali Armstrong.