Guest comment: Rethinking the way sales and marketing interact

Guest comment: Rethinking the way sales and marketing interact

With employees working remotely and the pressure to drive sales higher than ever, empowering sales and marketing teams to work together more efficiently has taken on a newfound importance. Kevin O’Regan VP EMEA at Seismic looks at how to effectively bridge the gap between these two departments and break down internal silos.

The integration of sales and marketing functions is crucial to achieving commercial success. For a long time, optimising the way in which these two teams collaborate and interact to deliver sustained business growth has been a major focus for many B2B companies. However, establishing the ideal level of collaboration is often difficult to achieve, and this can directly affect the performance of the company.

IDC determined that a mismatch between sales and marketing may cost organisations an average of 10% or more in annual revenue. Meanwhile, another recent report stated that when a company’s sales and marketing teams collaborate effectively, it is 70% more likely to see year-on-year sales growth. True alignment around strategic and tactical planning and joint KPIs are crucial  to driving organisational growth.

The demand to increase sales effectiveness while employees work from home due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, has meant there’s now a greater need for these teams to work together more effectively. Companies willing to reconsider how these internal relationships operate will create more opportunities in the short and long-term. Now is a crucial time to break all remaining internal silos once and for all. In this article, we’ll look at how B2B companies can effectively bridge the gap between sales and marketing to maximise go-to-market (GTM) performance.

Teamwork enabled by technology

Firstly, businesses should actively promote the concept of collaboration across every level and business function. Internal alignment across departments won’t happen unless it is cultivated from top to bottom with clear business processes in place to enable implementation. Sales and marketing managers need to communicate regularly and directly between the teams, set common goals and implement truly integrated operations to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction.

This isn’t anything new, but as it isn’t currently possible to hold informal face-to-face meetings and workshops, team leaders need to utilise other ways to share important information.  These meetings should be used to set performance indicators and leverage near real-time data to actively optimise efficiency and effectiveness. Sales and marketing may be completely separate teams, but they both contribute to the same goal – driving business growth.

All of this can help to overcome any obstacles and misalignments that may exist between both teams. For example, a recent survey found 46% of marketers felt that sales teams did not understand what was important to the marketing team, while 31% of sales teams felt a disconnect between the two departments – illustrating the issues that can arise. A thriving revenue operation is ever more difficult to achieve in today’s digital world. Not enabling teams with digital systems that enables collaboration raises the risk of teams becoming disenchanted, not engaging effectively with customers and being left behind by the competition.

Now more than ever, it is important to create a cohesive GTM unit. In the midst of ongoing disruption, establishing a collaborative mindset across the organisation and empowering personnel with the right technology is an important first step towards truly aligning sales and marketing teams and establishing successful revenue operations.

Technology: the key to sales & marketing alignment

It is almost certain that establishing common goals, integrated processes and better communication will only move a business forwards. The ability to bridge the gap between sales and marketing in a way that produces positive business results, even as we work more remotely, is largely being enabled by the digital platforms available to employees. These digital collaborative tools are playing a more prominent role in centralising processes and maximising GTM efficiency.

For example, if everyone is using different content or searching for content in different places, then sales and marketing will never be truly aligned. The result will be an inconsistent story being told to prospects and customers, which may lead to conflicts between the two teams and negatively impact sales success. Implementing a central content management platform that has all the latest content in one place can solve this problem by ensuring that everyone is connected.

Having a repository with intelligent content management functions (which can be used to decide whether to keep, delete or update content) offers benefits to sellers and marketers. Looking at it from the sales side, sellers can use the latest versions of content that are proven effective to be always on point when reaching out to prospects. Analytics and data ensure that sellers are making use of the most engaging and relevant content at each stage of the customer journey, while still meeting brand guidelines and regulatory requirements. What’s more, content engagement insights enable sellers to directly tailor their follow-ups to maximise selling effectiveness.

On the marketing side, marketers can leverage real-time feedback to discover which content is resonating with customer problems and needs. They can make smarter decisions about how to optimise the future content they create, in turn improving their efficiency by investing their time in content that drives business results based on actual data.

Furthermore, technology is enhancing these capabilities with predictive data analytics so that both teams can get more out of the content available to them. Artificial intelligence (AI) predictive engines are able to immediately suggest the right content for the right customer across touchpoints, when needed. An AI-guided selling process takes into account prospects’ persona, account profile, buying stages and use cases to provide just-in-time recommendations to sellers so that they can move faster and be more agile. At the same time, this supports marketers by ensuring that content is aligned with all stages of the buyer’s journey to increase its likelihood of resonating and driving the sales cycle forward.

Without these AI-guided platforms, sellers and marketers would need countless hours gathering data and insights to ensure their content produces the same impact. Having these digital tools in place enables them to work more effectively, engage prospects and focus more time on key revenue generating activity.

While there are a number of reasons and ways for businesses to better align their sales and marketing teams, it will ultimately be technology that enables the teams to deliver  the biggest impact. Businesses can enhance their overall success by implementing a centralised and connected process, all through digital platforms that empower a new level of sales and marketing collaboration to maximise GTM effectiveness.

By Kevin O’ Regan