All too often we see sales and marketing alignment being non-existent, where departments are working against each other rather than working together in alignment. Yet, both teams have the same goal of providing valuable experiences to the buyer and ultimately closing deals. According to LinkedIn, 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth. So what’s holding these teams back from aligning their initiatives?
The marketing department creates the brand story to engage buyers and attract new leads. The role of the sales team is to continue that story in a consistent flow to close deals and convert leads into customers. Yet, the sales team may feel ill-equipped to continue that narrative because they don’t have relevant or updated content to share with the buyer. And once the lead is passed off to the sales team, the marketing team oftentimes lacks insight into which content is resonating with the buyer most — preventing marketers from enabling sales with the right content to move the prospect forward in their buyer’s journey.
In this article, we’re diving deep into the most effective sales enablement strategies you can implement to mitigate these scenarios and align your sales and marketing teams.
The roles of the marketing and sales teams in the buyer’s journey
Both the marketing and sales teams affect a buyer’s experience. By working together in alignment, marketing and sales can streamline the buyer’s journey thus increasing sales velocity overall. The buyer’s journey is the process through which a customer becomes aware of a product or service, considers whether or not they should buy it, and then ultimately makes the decision to purchase. So what roles do the marketing and sales teams play in the buyer’s journey and where do they misalign?
Let’s break it down by each stage: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
The awareness stage is when the potential buyer realizes they have a problem and in the process of learning more about their issue, they come across your business through the marketing team’s educational content. Essentially, it’s up to the marketing department to produce high-quality engaging content — whether it’s an informational blog, an educational guide, or helpful social media posts to attract leads. This content should not only attract a buyer’s attention and keep it, but also push buyers to head into the next stage of their purchase journey.
The first misalignment with marketing and sales: Marketers use marketing automation platforms to capture leads, gain insights on open and click-through-rates of an email, see who visits the website, and more. The problem? Marketing’s view of the buyer oftentimes ends once the lead submits a conversion form and heads into the sales CRM — leaving marketers with little to no insight as to which content the salespeople are finding most useful in their meetings and which content resonates with the buyer.
Sales enablement technology will bridge the gap between sales and marketing tools allowing marketers to see beyond the point of hand-off to sales. Marketers will be able to see which pieces of content are most impactful and will therefore be better enabled to create future content to encourage buyer engagement.
In the consideration stage, the prospect is aware of their problem and is now actively researching how to solve it. So let’s say, because of the educational materials put forth by the marketing department, the prospect opted in to receive emails from your company. Queue the sales team! Now, a salesperson has the contact information they need to reach out to the prospect and do what they do best.
The second misalignment with marketing and sales: Because the marketing team lacks visibility into the sales CRM, they have no way of knowing which content the sales representatives are sharing with prospects, which content is resonating, and at which stage in the sales cycle content is most influential. A sales enablement platform will provide the marketing team with insights into the sales process allowing them to create consistent on-brand materials that enable sales to move the buyer along their journey to make a purchase.
The problem for the sales team here is that searching for the right content takes up hours per day. On average, about 64.8% of a sales representative’s time is spent on administrative tasks which leaves only 35.2% of their time to focus on selling. Sales enablement technology aligns sales and marketing by housing all collateral organized by industry, potential problems or questions, and more — so that searching for a piece of content to share (and personalizing it) is quick and easy.
In this stage, a prospect may request customised materials that visualise how their business and/or personal lives may change after investing in your product or service. Sales teams can utilize tools to visualize how the product or service will adequately meet the prospect’s needs. Take for example, choosing to provide your prospect with a recent case study that showcases how your company helped another client in a similar situation. The case study gives the prospect a greater understanding of how and why your business is the solution to their biggest pain points — making them feel more confident about purchasing your product or service.
The third misalignment with marketing and sales: Due to outdated materials that lack the ability to personalise, salespeople are forced to create their own materials which compromises brand consistency in design and messaging. Marketing departments need to create materials that can be easily updated for personalisation so that salespeople can quickly customise content before a meeting without creating a divergence.
With the help of sales enablement technology, marketers can design interactive presentations that enable salespeople to quickly personalise names, logos, and any other information that will enhance the buyer experience while in a meeting. This makes it easy for marketing to continue to lead content creation, while sales can focus their valuable time on selling.
The biggest obstacles to sales and marketing alignment
In order to effectively execute sales enablement, marketing teams must align their marketing materials to the sales tactics that work best for the sales team. But without a proper sales enablement platform, many inconsistencies will remain. When there is a lack of communication between both parties and a lack of shared data, the alignment process becomes flawed.
Take a look at three of the most common challenges that cause sales and marketing teams to lose sight of their shared goals.
Lack of accurate/shared data
Through our years of research, we found that 67% of marketing professionals feel ill-equipped to collect insight from sales content engagement. A lack of data negatively impacts both the marketing and sales departments — sales representatives are unaware of which content is resonating with prospects and marketers have zero insight into what materials are working for sales.
With the proper sales enablement platform, marketers can gain insight into the sales process and seller behaviour by automatically collecting customer data from content used in sales meetings. This enables marketers to proactively create collateral that makes a positive impact on prospects to gain their trust and continuously improve the buyer experience as they move along their purchase journey.
In order to provide an exceptional customer experience, salespeople need to use personalised content. Highly personalised sales content in meetings keeps the consumer interested and engaged, which makes your sales strategy more effective.
Oftentimes, the marketing team produces sales materials that aren’t necessarily relevant to the needs of the sales team’s prospects due to a lack of communication. So, a salesperson is often spending hours out of their day creating and updating materials to best fit the specific industry or stage in the sales cycle their prospect is currently in. And, on the other side, marketers have no idea that these salespeople are struggling to find content that relates to their prospects. Communication is key to a successful sales and marketing relationship.
Many enterprises are not equipped with a sales enablement platform that will provide insights regarding the content sales is finding most successful. Here is the actual problem: salespeople have little to no access to the analytics that show which content would be most useful to send to prospects based on the success of the marketing team’s initiatives. Alternatively, marketers are completely unaware of which materials the sales representatives are sharing with their prospects and how content is influencing the sales cycle overall. Buyer engagement metrics regarding the types of content sales teams are sending such as which pages the prospect viewed, how many times did they open, etc., are critical insights necessary to drive a more effective content marketing strategy for late-stage opportunities.
A lack of reporting further digs the divide between marketing and sales teams. Both teams need to have access to the analytics that show content conversion rates. With these results, both teams are able to leverage content based on data-driven results to more effectively drive business growth.
2 ways to foster communication between sales and marketing
There may be many challenges the marketing and sales teams face when it comes to collaboration. But with challenges comes solutions! Effective sales enablement doesn’t only require the participation of the sales team, it also warrants help from the marketing team. Below are just a few of the many ways both teams can foster their relationship and communicate more effectively to create a streamlined customer experience from start to finish.
1. Speak with one voice
In order to drive business growth, sales and marketing teams must align their story throughout the entire buyer’s journey. Too often, companies make the huge mistake of tasking marketing with crafting a story to garner interest from leads at the beginning of the buyer’s journey without providing sales with the right content to continue the narrative. So a sales representative is forced to create a new story which confuses the buyer.
Using one shared messaging plan for all buyer-facing team members will positively impact sales interactions at every stage. Inconsistent messaging on marketing and sales materials will not instill trust between the prospect and your brand. 63% of sales representatives say a consistent branding experience has an impact on whether or not a deal is closed. Therefore, marketers need to develop materials that communicate the same message throughout the entirety of the prospect’s purchase journey.
2. Communicate regularly
Scheduling a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with both departments is a great start to achieving alignment. These meetings will provide ample time for both teams to communicate the individual issues they’re facing and come up with best practices to solve these problems in unison moving forward. However, executing alignment between marketing and sales teams goes beyond holding regular meetings. You need to close the loop on feedback.
Marketing shouldn’t just hand-off leads to sales and be done with them, engagement must be consistent, concise, and collaborative. The marketing team needs to help sales understand where the buyer is in their journey — where they’re coming from, what content they’ve seen and interacted with, and what they should be shown next to continue a seamless flow of the brand story. In order to increase win rates and close deals, both marketing and sales teams need to be on the same page.
The right sales enablement technology will unite marketing and sales initiatives
The right sales enablement platform will provide visibility across the sales content lifecycle — aligning both the sales and marketing teams for long-term success. By sharing sales data with the marketing team and vice versa, each team is better informed to create and utilize relevant and useful content. Sales enablement is the art of maximizing every touchpoint to foster the buyer/seller relationship throughout the purchase journey.
By leveraging a sales enablement methodology powered by the right technology, the marketing team is better equipped with the data they need to create content that provisions the sales team with relevant materials that focus on selling value. This shared data provides marketers with a better understanding of the ways in which buyers interact with content unlocking the answers to questions similar — but not limited to — the following:
- Which content is empowering sales to do what they do best?
- Which content is resonating with buyers at each stage of the purchase journey?
- Which elements within sales materials are most compelling to buyers?
- Which content can be replaced or altered to become more engaging?
- How are marketing materials being used to impact win rates?
By empowering sales and marketing through sales enablement technology, strategic alignment behind a common goal — improving the buyer experience — becomes possible. The newly shared mission of streamlining sales success through buyer-centric initiatives has many impacts across the organisation, including positive and measurable impacts on the following metrics:
- Sales velocity — shortening sales cycles
- Time spent selling — while decreasing time spent searching
- Win rates — % of final stage prospects that close
- Deal size — aggregate deal amount
Sales enablement technology is the missing piece of the puzzle that will foster a better relationship between marketing and sales, providing each team with solutions to their problems regarding buyer insights, content management, and improving communication between both departments. Uniting these teams through resources, processes, and technology is how today’s enterprises are driving revenue growth across industries.
Can you afford to provide anything other than the best possible buyer experience? Align your sales and marketing teams to unlock their greatest potential.
The next frontier is here — schedule a demo with Prezentor to see what’s possible.