In this part of the series on 6 Key Elements to Effective Sales Transformation, we focus on sales and marketing alignment. The end of the year is one of those treasured times that offers the opportunity for genuine reflection and contemplation of what has occurred over the past year and what will occur in the year to come.
The standard sales and marketing alignment thought leadership
Sales and marketing alignment is more important than ever because (insert trendy stat about customers here). As a result, sales needs to (do something related to the product or service that my company sells). Marketing needs to (do something else related to what my company sells). Above all else, remember that (the world is forever different based on the rise of the internet and if you don’t buy what my company does you will go out of business, or be stranded alone on a desert island).
This script falls short because it is focused on what sales and marketing should be doing. In the end, it isn’t about sales and marketing. It’s about the customer. Sales and marketing alignment isn’t new. In the early 1990’s, there was a company in Atlanta called Brock Control Systems that offered what they called a closed loop view of customer engagement. Their software allowed marketing, sales and service to get an integrated view of customer relationships and take specific actions based on where a customer or prospect was in their buying cycle. Sound familiar? That’s because it is the same strategy that Salesforce.com employs today.
Sales and marketing alignment isn’t new, why is it such a hot topic?
The reason that this topic gets so much air time is:
- Customer buying processes are changing faster than ever before
- Companies have not evolved fast enough and their processes are out of alignment with the way customers buy
- Software has become so cheap to develop that the number of sales and marketing automation tools in the market today is (almost) limitless, which has created an entire segment of the market aggressively pushing the need to change (and adopt their automation tool)
What does this mean for CEO’s, Sales and Marketing leaders?
Most of all, it means that you should focus on change management as a core competence of sales and marketing and create joint accountability for adapting. Some practical tips:
- Make a customer buying map, soliciting input from your sales and marketing teams, that shows:
- How customers decide to work with your company
- What makes them stay
- What key activities your team needs to do in order to maximize odds of success at each stage
- Who is responsible for each set of activities
- Make sure that your map isn’t too complicated, because it will change
- Adapt and adjust your map periodically (at least a quick check-in quarterly for major things that should be added/subtracted)
- Educate your sales and marketing teams on how to use your customer buying map
- Integrate your customer buying map into coaching conversations between marketing and sales managers
- Create accountability for customer success in the form of goals which can be shared between sales and marketing
- Formulate standards and systems that are in alignment with your customer buying map and automate them when appropriate. Don’t let the system drive the process because updates are time consuming and complicated. Design the system in such a way that it can be quickly updated and rapidly released
The issue with most companies’ sales and marketing alignment efforts isn’t that they don’t do the above at some level. The issue is that they get bogged down somewhere along the way and change at a pace that is too slow for the number of alternatives facing their customers. Don’t let your company be overrun by the pace of change-build sales and marketing capabilities that are aligned with the customer!
To read more from the Effective Sales Transformation series:
- Element 1: Sales Force Effectiveness
- Element 2: Sales Enablement
- Element 3: Sales Force Strategy
- Sales and Marketing Needs to Be Aligned for Effective Sales Transformation (Element 4)
- Sales Talent Management and Skill Development are Vital to an Effective Sales Transformation (Element 5)
- Why Sales Operations is Key to Driving an Effective Sales Transformation (Element 6)