One of the opening paragraphs of Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team states, “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
In rowing, all oars must be rowing in the same direction, timing synchronized, and crew members in constant communication. Now consider that scenario in business. It goes without saying that sales and marketing should work together, let alone the entire organization. But sales and marketing are famously at odds with each other on many occasions. Sales teams sometimes believe that marketing is out of touch, or marketing blames sales for not converting leads.
That is why it’s important for us as marketers to understand our clients’ sales structure and the dynamic within marketing. But the challenge is – how do we engage sales to come along for the ride, and in turn, inform smarter marketing? How can we resolve that in-fighting so we can be a resource to bridge the sales and marketing divide?
The answer, I’ve found, is to earn the buy-in of the sales team. And it’s been my experience that you can earn their buy-in by making the sales team part of our process. The sales team is the eyes and ears of our clients, a cheat sheet to what the customers want, the pain points they experience, and a way to identify trends before the trend goes mainstream. Understanding these nuances can be the difference between flat messaging and messaging that resonates.
By involving the sales team to be part of your campaign research and discovery phase also serves to make them feel part of the process and opens direct lines of communication.
Another healthy exercise is to ask questions about our client’s sales process. This could be conducted as a worksheet exercise for clients to take back to their sales team or an open invite for quarterly planning meetings.
Another marketing hack is to organically start the conversation on a status call simply by asking an open-ended question, like “how’s business?” Small talk is always welcome to get to know your client better and further your personal relationship, but deliberate questions to tap into the business process can be equally beneficial. A more formal line of questioning could sound like the following conversation starters:
- Can you tell us a little more about your sales process?
- Can you tell us about how your sales teams are organized and their process? (“We’d love to know more about this, since we know that our marketing efforts are often tied to helping you build revenue.” Caveat: This wouldn’t be as appropriate for early-stage pre-clinical clients, but it’s a good conversation starter for others.)
- What is your sales cycle for (X product)?
- How is the sales team using the articles we’ve placed?
While there are multiple ways to engage sales, the important takeaway is that marketing can be the conduit to a productive sales and marketing relationship.
If you’re looking for help with your communication needs including marketing, public relations, content creating, web development and everything in between, feel free to drop us a line to learn how we can help with your needs.