How to Align Sales and Marketing Processes

By Adam Little, CMO, Data Dwell

When sales and marketing teams work in harmony, that makes a big difference to the bottom line. However, many organizations may have a disconnect between sales and marketing resulting from a clash of cultures or a lack of understanding between the teams.

If management focuses on aligning processes between sales and marketing – while building a foundation between the two departments – these teams can work together toward a common purpose and aligned goals that will benefit the bottom line and help grow the business.

Whatever stage your business is in at any given moment, it’s essential to align sales and marketing processes to effectively scale the business while growing its customer base. Here’s how to get started.

1. Drill Down into the Basic Goals
If you want your marketing and sales professionals to work closely together, you first need to make sure both sides understand their goals as departments and those of the company as a whole.

When setting business objectives for the week, month, quarter, or year, ensure you have a key representative from each team who is able to contribute to the discussion, hear from their colleagues working in different departments, and feed back the goals to their team. This allows sales and marketing to understand their wider role in the business – since they know how their tasks will contribute to wider company success.

It is also worth breaking down bigger, more daunting goals into bite-size ones. This makes the prospect of achieving each one far more realistic to visualize and will boost morale across the board when each one is achieved.

Once both teams have a solid understanding of what is driving the other, they can begin aligning their processes.

The key to a successful alignment of sales and marketing is for the people overseeing the processes in these areas to be aligned, too. This means encouraging them to work together and talk daily.

You could try making members of your teams representatives of different areas of the funnel. If there’s a marketing meeting to discuss a new content piece, make sure someone from the sales team can share their thoughts on how it will be presented to – and received by – potential customers at each stage of the journey.

Where that’s not possible, get feedback and buy-in from stakeholders across each department at every opportunity. No one should hold a piece of work or a single process too fondly, because everything should be a collaborative approach and open to collective improvement.

2. Set Standards and Implement Rules
Everybody needs a solid structure and framework, especially when they’re working with different departments to meet a common goal.

That’s where standards and rules come in. Initially, create a set of standards – or values – that every employee in each team is aware of and adheres to. Aim for a culture that puts the customer first and always focuses on what best supports the customer’s journey through the funnel and what provides additional value to them.

Your mantra could simply be: customer first.

Then narrow down into more specific rules that provide parameters for both sales and marketing to operate within. For example:

  • Agree on lead qualification criteria
  • Define what information needs to be captured, when, and by whom
  • Decide how marketing pieces will be distributed (e.g., manually, by process, or by tool)
  • Assign different content types to different customer personas or stages of the process (e.g., case studies vs. template slides)
  • Determine appropriate follow-up times after content is sent
  • Set the number and nature of attempts to contact a prospect
  • Decide when to stop chasing prospects
  • Be clear on what happens when a prospect is closed

3. Leverage Technology to Your Advantage
Marketing technology exists to help sales and marketing teams work more closely together and to streamline processes. Make use of it!

A sales enablement tool, for example, is designed to help marketing departments position their content more accurately into the sales process, directly supporting sales reps.

The key is using this effectively. Map out how your content and tech stacks can support each part of the sales process, and make sure that aligns with stages in your CRM too. Use technology to link everything. But make sure the people managing the customer journey at each point understand this. Provide explanations and training where needed to ensure the technology will actually be used.

This applies to every piece of technology.

  • Push notifications from interactions with marketing pieces are great – if your sales reps respond quickly to them
  • Metrics are ideal for content pieces – if marketing knows what to do with that information
  • Reporting and dashboards are a huge help to everyone – if staff know how to log in and what to look for

4. Never Forget Your People
Finally, however important processes are, you should never forget it’s people who drive them. You always need people onside, supporting your goals and motivated to achieve them in order for processes to be aligned.

Don’t try to implement too much change, too fast. And always keep everyone involved with the changes, taking on-board questions, queries, and suggestions, and working together with them.

If you have the right people behind you from both sales and marketing, you’ll be able to build, run, and evolve processes that are perfectly aligned and highly successful.

Adam Little is the CMO at Data Dwell.