The benefits of collaboration between sales and marketing teams are clear. Last year in a survey of 453 companies, research firm Aberdeen found that 47 percent of the sales forecasts at successful companies were generated by marketing, as compared to an average 5 percent among laggard companies.
Jim Dickie, managing partner at CSO Insights, says a formal sales process combined with a sales model that emphasizes relationship building can have "dramatic" and "positive" effects on sales activity. Recently, CSO Insights worked with a medical-device company that discovered, through mining its CRM data, that it only had a 20 percent success rate when selling to purchasing departments but a 70 percent success rate when selling directly to the nursing staff.
"The nurses liked the product because it was the most reliable and easy to use, but the purchasing departments didn't because it was more expensive than other alternatives," explains Dickie. "The sales team therefore directed the marketing team to focus on finding prospects inside nursing organizations, rather than purchasing groups, and devise messages to help purchasing groups understand why the nurses wanted a more expensive product."
In the January/February issue of Selling Power magazine, Ken Thoreson, managing partner of Acumen Management Group, outlined four clear action steps for sales leaders who want to align sales and marketing teams today:
Communicate. "Communication can either solve or create problems. Have marketers sit in on sales meetings at least once a month. Get feedback on what is working or not working. Have both sales and marketing report to the same person, not separate VPs of sales and marketing."
Track metrics. "Know the quality of leads coming in. Have marketing rate them from 1 to 5, then have sales rate them. Then it is up to top management to reconcile them. Know the close ratio, and understand the formula that links the marketing funnel to the sales funnel."
Collaborate. "Lots of marketers do not attend trade shows, observe sales calls, or sit in on demonstrations. Marketers should spend three days with resellers if your company has channel partners."
Compensate. "There is an old saying that if sales are down, the VP of sales is fired and the VP of marketing creates another plan. Give marketers performance-based compensation. In a large organization, you can give them 10 to 15 percent of compensation based on sales."