5 ways to align sales and marketing in an engineering firm
While the conflict between sales and marketing may date back to before the birth of the internet, unfortunately, it’s not a thing of the past. Companies today still struggle to bridge the gap, with costly results; According to the Aberdeen Group, companies whose sales and marketing teams were out of sync saw a 4% decrease in annual revenue, while those companies that were aligned, saw a 20% revenue increase.
Here are 5 ways engineering firms can better align sales and marketing teams:
▹ Decide on your target customers
First and foremost, both sales and marketing teams will need to agree on what makes a lead. Often marketers don’t understand what makes a good prospect for the sales team; if the ideal lead characteristics are decided on from the beginning then the sales funnel will be clear to both teams. Characteristics should include:
- Company size
- Who are the purchase influencers?
- What are their pain points? i.e. the problems need to be solved.
▹ Agree on your sales funnel & lead generation
Another bone of contention between sales and marketing is defining the sales funnel and agreeing on what makes a good lead. Quite often, both parties have different interpretations of what the stages of the sales funnel are, and the actions required the move a lead through each level.
A common issue is sales accusing marketing of not sending over the right type of leads they can close, while marketing thinks that the sales team are throwing away the good leads they send across.
For engineering marketers, the traditional sales funnel has shifted slightly, with the responsibility for lead nurturing falling on marketing rather than sales. This is a result of digital leads not being properly qualified in the past. Think about it- just because someone fills in a form or downloads a white paper
doesn’t mean they’re ready to ready to buy; they need to be nurtured further.
The diagram below shows the shift in the sales funnel:
By defining and agreeing the sales funnel together, job roles will be clearly defined and both sales and marketing will be more confident in their abilities to attract, convert and close leads, resulting in increased sales.
▹ Meet regularly
A common pitfall is the lack of time sales and marketing spend together. Both teams need to share information and communicate better- working separately is not only inefficient but also harms the business.
Including the marketers in regular sales meetings will give the opportunity to share progress on sales quotas and goals, and also information on upcoming campaigns, offers, and content. It’s also good practice for sales and marketing managers to meet regularly, perhaps on a monthly basis. Important metrics and results can be analysed and evaluated, including lead generation, leads worked, lead-to-customer conversion, MQLs, etc.
TIP: Create a ‘smarketing’ email alias that gets sent to the sales and marketing teams so information can be shared easily in both directions.
▹ Collaborate to create great content
It’s the marketing team’s job to create content to attract potential leads and to nurture them through the funnel.
Traditionally, marketing would decide the content without any consultation with the sales team, however, collaboration is the key to creating great content; marketing needs to understand the customer well- their wants, needs, and questions. They can get this information from the sales team, after all, they are the ones who are speaking with prospects all the time.
TIP: It’s easy for sales feedback to fall between the cracks so put a process in place so that valuable info isn’t missed. Hold brainstorming sessions during meetings or create a shared document where the sales guys can input content ideas and references.
▹ Get to know each other
Simple, yet effective, but having both teams to try and get to know each other is one of the most important techniques to get sales and marketing aligned. Team building days, organised lunches or dinners can work wonders, facilitating trust-building, while helping everyone to feel comfortable working alongside each other.
It’s imperative that sales and marketing remember they are on the same team and they share a common goal- sales for the business. By adopting these suggestions, your sales and marketing teams should start to align as they start to view each other as equals rather than the competition.