Walk into most companies and you're likely to hear versions of the following conversations:
"Marketing departments don’t get it: they don’t understand the customer; they don’t understand the challenges salespeople face; they don’t understand how to turn a lead into a prospect, then a customer, then a long-term customer…"
"Sales departments don’t get it: they don’t understand the need to shift from push to pull marketing; they don’t understand how the buyer’s journey has forever changed; they don’t understand that content marketing is far more effective — and cost efficient — than traditional advertising…"
Such disconnect has existed for as long as marketing and sales departments have existed, but is rarely achieved.
So how do you bridge the gap to generate more leads and, ultimately, more sales for your business?
The Painless Sales & Marketing Alignment Meeting
Get everyone together and start a conversation – but not just any conversation.
One of the first things we do at Denamico when we begin working with a new customer is sit down with the entire team: marketing, sales, leadership, and sometimes even operations. Then we ask everyone the questions they, in their roles, are most frequently asked by their customers. Basically, we create a huge list of FAQs.
The primary reason for creating an extensive list of customer problems and questions is to flesh out and prioritize an editorial calendar for content marketing, but there’s a huge secondary benefit: suddenly everyone in the room begins to find themselves on the same page because everyone hears and discusses the same issues.
A salesperson might say, “Here’s a question I’m often asked…” and a marketing person will instantly say, “I get that question too… it’s worded slightly differently, but really the customer is looking for the same basic information.”
Or a marketing person might say, “Here’s a question we get all the time…” and a salesperson might say, “Wow. I’m surprised. No one ever asks us that.”
In either of those cases – and all the cases in between – the conversation leads to a much better understanding of the customer and the market.
If done correctly, the meeting might take a few hours, and that’s great because those conversations invariably lead to a much better relationship between the sales and marketing teams.
The key is to get both sides talking not just about themselves and their needs but also about the customer and the customer’s needs; when you do, all the barriers and simmering resentment quickly fall away.
And within a few hours, salespeople remember and are reassured that marketing is truly trying to help them. The marketing team better understands the information they need to get from salespeople to produce the right content.
And suddenly, buyer personas become both clearer and more comprehensive — and therefore much more effective, since those personas can be loaded into marketing automation tools and can inform future marketing plans.
Listen to Scott Sannes, Director of Strategic Growth at SEH talk about their success in aligning sales and marketing at SEH.
Try it. Get your teams together and create a list of frequently asked questions.
Let people talk. Let people share ideas. Let them find common ground. Let them begin to speak the same language.
When they do, your marketing and sales teams will be much more effective and the business will benefit as a whole.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.