Originally published in Sales & Marketing Management
In a perfect world, your sales team and your digital marketing team work side by side to capture leads and close sales. In the real world, however, less than half of companies believe they have achieved sales and marketing alignment.
Traditionally, each department has experienced success in the past working in a siloed fashion. The marketing team captured leads and engagement prospective customers, while the sales team built relationships and set up accounts. But today’s customer journey is more complex. Consumers are savvy: They research, read reviews, and often have more touchpoints throughout the sales process than ever before.
Data has become one of the most useful tools for both marketers and sales, but the two teams often don’t share this information or optimize it to help each other’s performance.
As each team gathers data, it must share that information with the other. Most important, marketers should be able to see the CRM data the sales team collects.
After all, customers don’t see the buying process as divided between marketing and sales, so why should your company?
How CRM Data Benefits Sales & Marketing Alignment
CRM data allows marketers to more accurately target and influence all the stakeholders involved in the sales process. The more digital marketing can deliver information that prospective clients actually want and need for making purchase decisions, the better the sales team’s close rate will be — and the better customers’ lifetime values will be. Here are a few cases when shared data can result in better sales:
Better leads: The sales teams should have scored and ranked prospects and leads, which means they likely have business and contact names, email addresses, and other basic information stored in the CRM. Your marketing teams can use all of that to identify and target look-alike audiences, match email addresses to acquisition channels, and create collateral that is more likely to influence prospective customers.
Overcoming pain points: Sales also has data about what went wrong during a sale: the pain points, objections, and stalls. That is incredibly valuable information to marketers, who can create content and campaigns around those issues to educate, inform, and ease worries.
Geotargeting: There’s probably a geographical component to the sales data, including customer locations, opportunities for travel, events, and trade shows. Marketers can take that information and use geotargeting strategies to reach specific prospects or even create a sphere of influence in a given area. This, in turn, will help smooth the sales process.
4 Steps To Sales & Marketing Alignment
Even with the benefits to gain, creating a collaborative process can be overwhelming. There’s likely reasons why this data hasn’t been shared between departments yet — troubles with technology probably being a big one. But by being deliberate and making this a gradual process, both departments will be able to reap the rewards without too much friction. Here’s how you can start integrating CRM data into your marketing strategy today:
1. Prioritize your goals. Marketing should identify the sales team’s biggest challenge. Gather that information by sending out an anonymous three question survey to the sales team or by having a quick sit-down with the VP or top performer. The goal is to figure out how to make sales team members’ lives easier. From there, identify the one or two pieces of data that would add the most value to your marketers’ efforts. Once the data is prioritized, plan out how to collect, report, and apply the collected data.
2. Show value. Salespeople are aware that every second they spend doing something other than selling translates to lost revenue, so take some time to put together a quick presentation that shows your salespeople how the data they provide will lead to easier conversations with customers.
3. Pilot, then iterate. Start with one salesperson, and give him or her one additional step, such as entering new data into the CRM, using an app to scan business cards, or asking customers one additional question. See how this affects his or her day-to-day productivity. Schedule regular feedback sessions and figure out how to optimize this process until it’s smooth.
4. Rinse and repeat. Consolidate and report any insights, wins, or challenges encountered during your pilot run to determine what’s working and what needs to change. Then start again and keep building at higher frequency and with more data points per iteration. Continue to show value and look for efficiencies that make team members’ lives easier.
Modern customers have access to all the information they need to make an educated purchasing decision. If you want to see your sales team’s close rates and customers’ lifetime values increase, equip your marketing team with the information they need to help prospective clients make smart decisions.
Tessa combines her marketing and software product management experience with agile principles to execute Tenlo’s rapid marketing testing, which focuses on identifying and forecasting clients' most effective experiences and sales channels for scaling successful products or launching innovation.
Tessa Burg, VP of UX & Technology Strategy