Too often when talking with potential partners for Element Three, I hear things such as, “our sales team operates on a different CRM and uses a different process than we do. We really just fulfill their requests and try to support where we can,” or some version of that. If you’re operating under this format—stop. You’re not doing your organization or your sales team any favors. Here are three ways sales and marketing can support one another—and how you can quit your old habits and level up your organization immediately.
Different Parts of the Same Team
You may be thinking sales and marketing are simply two sides of the same coin. Marketing is there to create sales collateral, bring in leads, and help the sales team get opportunities to sell your company’s services. It’s true, marketing does all of those functions (or at least often does). But in that format, sales is the driver and marketing plays a responsive role rather than a leading one. This is fundamentally inaccurate. While your sales team may be the most adept at speaking with new prospects and presenting you and your company in a new business meeting, marketing is far and away the most skilled at creating on-brand sales collateral, talking points, and representations of who your company is. At Element Three, our President Tiffany Sauder often tells me, “This is a team sport. You [Joe] can only sell what marketing creates as a showcase, and marketing can only create collateral from what our teams make for our clients.” Want to start playing a team sport rather than an individual one? Here are three strategies to do just that.
Include sales as part of your marketing campaigns.
Very often, sales teams are not actively trying to do their own thing; however, the type of people who end up working in sales are the kind who tend to act now and think later—planning isn’t always their strong suit, and they like to make quick decisions and move forward to the next opportunity. To foster strong collaboration in marketing campaigns, begin to include sales team members in the planning process. A great example of this in our own organization is our outdoor industry ABM approach. The marketing team at Element Three created an entire campaign specific to our outdoor industry prospects. They took the time to create a special version of the Element Three brand to target that specific audience. From that, we discussed which of our case studies are most relevant, which accounts to target, and how we could consistently reach out to these prospects as a thought leader in the space. The best part? The marketing team included the sales team in the process every step of the way. Sales was leaned on to provide perspective from prior conversations to help inform the specific pain points we would address in the campaign. Remember, while marketing is great at creating the representation of our brand to the market, sales is the expert when it comes to what organizations are trying to buy and what challenges your company’s services can help them overcome. Don’t discredit the conversations your sales team is having with your buyers on a day-to-day basis.
Set up a process through which your sales team can share insights with you.
Just like building a strong brand, understanding your audience is key to creating the type of marketing support which yields strong returns. While there are many ways to do formal market research to understand your buyer and who they are (and you should be doing this at some point, if you aren’t already), why skip talking to the experts your sales team interacts with on a daily basis? At Element Three, we do this internally in our own marketing and sales setup, and we also are sure to include our clients’ sales teams in marketing efforts. Internally, the marketing team is always asking me about my conversations with prospects. They ask how prospects are reacting to certain talking points—what’s worked well and what has fallen on deaf ears? What services do they ask for support with most often? This is a focus group inside of your organization. Don’t waste the conversations your sales team is having. Externally, we make it a point to build the bridge between marketing and sales with our clients, as well. At Airstream, for example, when we have a new idea we will discuss it with both the marketing team and the sales team. In their business-to-business-to-consumer model, it’s important to hear what all of the various buyer personas we’re trying to speak to are saying in response to the Airstream brand. The really important thing here is that this discussion is part of our process. It happens at scheduled internal meetings, which allows us to ensure we’re constantly staying up to date with what our audience is telling us.
Ensure the sales team knows how to activate marketing’s support—and actually follows through.
Marketing is the most qualified group to produce sales collateral—everything from case studies to prospect presentations falls under this umbrella, and the sales team needs to know marketing is in charge here. I’ll be the first to hold my hand up and say I’m not the best process person. I like to make decisions, move quickly, and get things done rapidly. However, I’ll also be the first person to recognize this is not always the best route. I don’t believe I’m alone in the sales world with either of those sentiments. The way we have shown up in prospecting meetings has only improved the more our sales side has bought into the process of bringing marketing into the sales presentation. This has helped us create well-written and well-designed prospect-focused pieces of sales collateral for all of our meetings. The same way the sales team shouldn’t be producing the case studies on your site, they shouldn’t be producing your pitch decks, either. Marketing, this isn’t all on the sales team’s plate. You have a responsibility here as well. Yours is to educate and call out when it doesn’t happen. No doubt, there will be times the process isn’t followed. Don’t let this slide—call out the mistake and educate again on how to correct it. Will it get tiring? Well, ask our team—they’ll certainly say yes. But the payoff is completely worth it.
Neither sales nor marketing should be shouldered with the responsibility to be the supporter in the relationship.
You know the saying “it takes two to tango”? It’s applicable not only to the dance floor, but also to growing your business. All too often we see sales running over marketing in organizations. Marketing isn’t made to cater to sales. Nor is sales made to follow marketing’s direction. The true secret sauce to growing your business is to get the two to work together seamlessly. Gaining new business is hard, why try and do it alone? Leverage the strong sides of your sales and marketing teams and watch your results improve dramatically—together.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” This advice has served Joe well as he’s worn many hats throughout his career–from college soccer player to marketing expert to Business Development Manager. He’s passionate about using big ideas to build mutually beneficial partnerships, because “to help yourself is to help others.”
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