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The Five Steps to Successful Sales and Marketing Alignment

In our mini-video chapter at Technology Marketing In Mind we’ve asked senior marketers from some of the UK’s top B2B technology companies to share their personal strategies for building respect, rapport and relationships with the sales team across the office floor.

Based on their words of wisdom, we’ve created the following five steps to successful sales and marketing alignment.

1. Open the communication channels. This, of course, is essential. The mentality that marketing exists simply to shovel leads at the feet of the sales team isn’t helpful to either function – marketers need input from sales if they are to effectively support their sales team’s needs, and sales people need input from marketing to truly understand resources being placed at their disposal.

 “It’s about sitting down and working together on jointly owned objectives, and taking accountability for the whole sales cycle: right from marketing activity through to leads, opportunity, and even revenue.”

Lisa Hutt, VP EMEA Marketing, Concur Technologies

2. Take the time to understand. The saying, “before I judge a man, let me first walk a mile in his moccasins,” is very apt when it comes to fostering a healthy and productive sales and marketing relationship. However busy you are, taking the time to discover the pains and challenges your sales team are facing – both as a whole, and as individuals – is crucial to providing the right kind of support, at the right moment. And it will probably even save you some time in the future.

 “Marketers should regularly go on some of the customer meetings – attend a meeting, find out what a customer’s saying, shadow that salesperson, follow it through […] because by understanding the journey that a sales person takes, you can see where the gaps lie – and start to bridge them.”

Lisa Archer, Marketing Consultant, CompTIA

3. Prove your worth. With the growing number of tools available today, it’s never been easier to demonstrate the power of the marketing function in real terms – from leads created, to impact on conversions and revenue. Proving marketing’s value is a key stage in encouraging sales to take an interest in marketing activity, and to start thinking about what it can do for them.

 “Sales have to understand that marketing is much more than marketing communications, is much more than brochures and t-shirts and a bit of money for more relationship building.  And marketing has to build its own credibility.”

Tony Hart, SP Video Marketing Europe, Cisco Systems

4. Plan together. While communication and mutual understanding is crucial, true sales and marketing alignment means taking joint ownership of objectives and initiatives – in short, planning your activities together at the highest level.

 “It’s most important that heads of sales and marketing are aligned in terms of their strategies and their targets, and that those priorities remain consistent – because if your heads are singing from the same hymn sheet, your teams know what they’re doing, and you’ll work together well.”

Gillian Montanaro, Head of Marketing, Roland DG

5. Show your workings. When you ask sales to record and feedback information, make sure you explain your motives. If a sales person can see clearly how the information you need them to collect will be used to help them seal another deal, they’ll be much keener to invest in the process, and to ensure the data they provide is as accurate as possible.

“We make the process very transparent, i.e. ‘You’re filling in this piece of information because it will give us this data, which will give us this knowledge, which will allow us to act in a different way’.”

Ian Baxter, Marketing Director EMEA, Saba Software Inc

Watch our top B2B technology marketers share their insights now

To hear how Cisco Systems, Saba Software Inc., Autodesk and more are working to align their marketing and sales teams, stop by our Mindshare Café and sample the sales and marketing video series yourself.

We’d love to get your input too. What approaches to aligning sales and marketing have worked for you, and what didn’t go so well? Let us know in the comments.