Alignment across departments has the ability to power marketing efforts and drive sales results for your company. Research shows that companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual growth rate — as opposed to those with poor alignment, which see a 4% revenue decline. In too many tech organizations, however, these functions operate in separate silos.
To succeed, multiple departments need to be involved in key activities that influence the overall success. This includes marketing functions like strategy, content, and lead acquisition; sales functions such as delivering on revenue targets, analyzing relevant data, and listening to customer feedback; and even product development.
When sales, marketing, and product development are not working together, they are isolated from changes in the marketplace, from their own company’s strategic priorities, and from the activities and goals of the others. In other words, if company goals, product development, sales, and marketing are not in alignment, it will hinder the effectiveness of the entire organization. To make sure your team is working in lockstep, consider these steps:
1. Create a product tailored to buyers’ needs
A basic tenet of the Pragmatic Marketing Framework is that, above all, you must have an offering that solves a real market problem. This means that the lynchpin of your success doesn’t rest on your marketing or even your sales — it rests on the fundamental process of identifying and solving customer pain points. In other words, success starts with Product Development. Product Development’s role in the Sales-Marketing partnership is to understand the market and facilitate development of offerings that solve the market’s problems.
Since your Product Development team is uniquely poised to understand how features map to solving the business problem for your customers, it brings something to the table that sales and marketing need: namely, “the ability to design crystal-clear requirements for product and service offerings geared precisely for target customers.” Consider scheduling a recurring quarterly meeting between the heads of your sales, marketing, and product teams to ensure alignment around your goals. If you are off track at any point throughout the quarter, schedule another alignment meeting to discuss and re-align your path.
2. Establish your long- and short-term growth goals
The joint effort of sales, marketing, and often finance is a key part of attracting qualified buyers whose problem is addressed by your solution but, in order to create a strategy that complements your organization’s growth goals, alignment needs to start even earlier in the process. In our marketing process, for example, we start with revenue goals for the year. Then we break that down into how many new customers we need to hit the target (to do that, we needed to understand the average deal size over the first 12 months, but SaaS companies should use average setup fees + ARR) and, based on conversion rates, identify how many new leads we need each year, month, or week.
That equips our marketing team with the data they need to optimize landing pages, create nurturing campaigns, create content, and more. This element is foundational to sales and marketing efforts moving forward, yet we often see it being skipped over or rushed through. Our favorite resources for company goal-setting and follow-up are Traction and Scaling Up (you can find some of their online resources here). Getting all relevant departments on board with company goals creates a shared understanding, lays the groundwork for collaboration, and empowers everyone to accomplish those goals.
3. Leverage marketing tools to meet those goals
The primary job of marketing is to generate qualified leads that fill your sales funnel. However, the reality is that most of your leads are not going to be ready to buy right away. Creating and optimizing the right web pages, content downloads, and targeted email campaigns is key to engaging visitors and eventually converting them to leads. This requires collaboration across departments to determine how both teams can offer the customers the solution they’re looking for.
We often see that sales and marketing teams refer to “leads” differently. Understanding each department’s definition of a lead will strengthen the quality of the leads, further objectify your goals, and strengthen the trust between departments. Interdepartmental alignment gives your team a deeper understanding of the buyers’ problems, then informs the content and communication they’re served during their path to purchase.
4. Empower your sales team to close the deal
Interdepartmental alignment will allow your marketing team to drive more targeted traffic, qualify inbound submissions, and hand those leads over to the sales team after they’ve already expressed interested in what you have to offer.
This process, called lead nurturing, can shorten sales cycles and help build valuable relationships with prospects. Using marketing as a pre-qualifier like this means that the sales team is having the most productive conversations possible with the right people, at the right time — ultimately increasing your conversion rates, growing your customer ranks, and reaching your revenue goals.
If your marketing team understands the process your sales team uses to close deals, they can makes sure they are creating content that the sales team can use. For example, if your sales team sees that they are consistently losing deals to a specific competitor, the marketing team can create a comparison sheet that positions your product ahead of your competitor. Without alignment, the marketing team won’t know what the sales team needs.
Successful companies recognize that fostering collaboration across departments is key to maximizing effectiveness and profitability. If you need help establishing your own strategy, reach out — we’d be happy to help.