We have a few loosely defined ideas of what “sales-marketing integration” means, and we’re not sure if it’ll make a meaningful difference. However, it felt like we were ready to work smarter and closer to get better results for Integrate and for our demand marketing customers.
This commitment prompted some homework and discussion with other marketing and sales leaders at respected organizations. While we don’t yet have lessons to learn (we’ll share as we go – the good, the bad and the ugly), we’ve received many opinions that we think are meaningful enough to share with our marketing peers and community.
Rather than tell you again why it’s important, I thought I’d simply share four ways marketing can (at minimum) align with sales – and ideally develop full sales-marketing integration – in 2016. Please note this has a marketing bias, because…well, our audience is made up mostly of marketers.
1. Manage marketing as an equal partner, not a patsy, to sales
You must work doggedly to establish marketing as a peer-level partner with sales – not a service provider (or worse). That means earning your credibility and your seat at the table in strategy discussions that yield plans and expectations.
We were reminded to not underestimate the challenge you will face in getting sales’ buy-in to this construct, as many sales orgs are perfectly content to use marketing as their butler.
2. Only go on the hook for marketing KPIs you can meet
Taking the partnership mandate one step further, marketing must be vigilant to ensure quarterly, campaign or other demand generation goals are based on planning that yields realistic, attainable goals.
Mutually developed goals are a modern construct that help marketing orchestrate demand and ensure both teams can deliver on customer acquisition goals. Remember: Beware the hook!
3. Be the go-to resource for customer insights that drive business revenue
Once goals are locked down, marketing should take point in sales’ efforts to engage with the customer. This goes well beyond documenting buyer personas and mapping the buyer journey into ongoing sales enablement.
Marketing sits at the center of so much third-party and internal data – as well as customer insights – that it’s uniquely positioned to help drive greater revenue. And make sure to keep sales focused on customer experience so your brand always delivers value, making it easier to engage and create customers.
4. Apply sales-marketing integration principles to data
Lead management processes must align closely with the way your sales org handles outreach and tracks prospect/customer insights. Marketing requires full visibility into the process – status, disposition of leads, rejection of leads and so on.
Thanks to the marketing and sales leaders who provided feedback to help us move beyond sales-marketing alignment and acheive our integration effort in the coming year. We’ll share our learnings as we go. And, as always, we’d love to hear what’s working for you and your organization.