Last year, I flew out to a sales and marketing organization of a publicly-traded company to help them with prospecting training. I won’t mention them here out of respect for the company, but I’ll tell you something I learned. Marketing and sales rarely get along, no matter how big the company is. This seems to be a reoccurring theme I see across many different companies. As a company gets bigger, so does the resentment. There appears to be a paradox that happens at all these companies. It’s this: Sales believes that marketing isn’t giving them good leads. Marketing believes that sales aren’t closing their leads.
Failure to align sales and marketing teams is leading to wasted budget and resources as up to 60-70% of B2B content is not being used and close to 75% of marketing leads never convert into a sale. Let’s admit something, I’m sorry VPs of Sales and fellow VPs of Marketing, but it’s both your fault. The sooner you both can admit we’ve messed up, the sooner we can repair this thing. So let’s get started.
There is one easy foundational way to get sales and marketing to get along, and it can start now! I’m going to use this blog post to show you how to do it. At its very core, a few foundational changes of how the teams together can fix everything.
Both Teams Must Work Together with the Same Strategic Mentality
Sales need to be marketing's hearing aid. Marketing needs to be sale's soapbox.
If you look all over LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and web content, it's easy to see people from marketing in the company's content. Hell, I do this:
Marketing leaders are totally cool repping the company, but let me ask leaders of marketing and sales teams this: Why aren't your sales reps in more content? If they are, why isn't marketing pushing that content?
They talk to hundreds of prospects and customers a day. They have the bandwidth to interact with the impressions on their posts personally, and they can post the content on their personal social feed while marketing posts it on the company's channel.
What if Sales Reps Are off-brand?
"I don't trust my sales guys putting content out there. What if they're off-brand?" This is what most marketers say when they hear me preach this approach.
Let me ask you this. What's the difference between having a sales rep post something on social media for thousands of people to see vs. having them handle a phone call with a prospect that will potentially pay you thousands of dollars? The whole point of doing activities is to get prospects in front of reps. There isn't a difference. It's the marketer's responsibility to train reps on what's on brand and then give a process to get content out there regularly.
On the sales side, it's the sales leader's job to make sure they hire the right reps that can rep the brand. If a sales rep is too embarrassed to use video and can't be coached, you shouldn't be hiring them.
Pushing Sales Reps' Content is the Easiest Way to Get Aligned
The easiest way to get marketing to align with sales is for marketing to use sales in their content, and for sales to ask marketing for help promoting their stuff.
Let's start on the sales side. Sales reps have quotas they have to attain. At most companies, sales reps have only email and phone to reach out to a prospect. If you have any experience in sales, you know the connect rate on unscheduled sales calls is pretty low. If you are writing cold emails, the reply rate is very low as well. This means that cold prospects and the existing opportunities in the pipeline need another way to remember working with a rep.
Sales need to be consistently posting content on the web. I'd say if you can post something at least once a week, your reps will be in better shape than most. Customer stories, best practices, thought leadership, or even something the sales rep is passionate about are all fine things to put together. Video is the best form of content you can post to get prospect's attention. But, as long as your posting engaging content, you're golden.
As a sales rep, if you have an audience on LinkedIn, you have a 6 day window to get content in front of your prospect. From what I've noticed, if you don't post within a 6 day window, you will get pulled out of your connection's newsfeeds on LinkedIn. Now, this doesn't imply for you to post/share marketing links, there are social selling best practices you should be following. You need to have your team post content that's relevant to them and their prospects.
On the other hand, marketing should be taking the content reps put out there and sharing it with their existing masses. If a sales rep makes a video interviewing their customer, marketing needs to share it on the company's social media channels. If a rep is offering office hours to help talk about a topic with a guest, marketing needs to put together the landing page for people to sign up and then build the email drip campaigns to bring those leads further down the funnel.
Here's the most exciting part - especially if you are a VP of Demand Generation with a big advertising budget. Marketing can export a report of the prospects that a particular rep is working out of your CRM and build them into a 'custom ad audience' on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn. If you upload a CSV with their contact information, you can pair up the prospect with ads that feature the content of the rep that's reaching to them.
For example, if Jeremy on our team is reaching out to 100 companies and 3-4 contacts at each company every month, I'll export his prospect lists and then run ads with videos of him in them. Then when he writes an email to these prospects, they recognize his name from all the content they've been getting hammered with over organic and paid social. Some of them even convert from the content and go right into his name in Salesforce.
This is a beautiful way to align sales and marketing.
Another tip on how marketing can contribute is to offer another way for a company to build a relationship with prospects. If you look at The Prospecting Podcast (also found on Soundcloud, iHeart Radio, & LeadIQ's site) we do at LeadIQ, half of the guests are dream prospects of ours whom we'd like to get as clients someday. This is a great way to help build a relationship with someone, and it also helps LeadIQ produce content.
How does this help increase marketing qualified leads? With decent quantity, you have more items in your stash you can use to get in front of people. If your company is getting seen everywhere by prospects, they will eventually convert and ask what your company does. Marketing also supports sales by ensuring that buyers are educated, interested, and engaged — and more likely to start, or continue, doing business with you.
With marketing adding its magic to your sales reps posts and content, your sales team will see more impressions, engagements, and likes on their posts. In return, reps will want to make more content. It will also become a reactive "inbound" lead list of people reps get to work.
“Wow, all these people liked my post that gave some value, showed off our wisdom, and plugged the marketing activity your team is working on. Thanks, marketing team for helping blow it up!” -Your Sales Reps
VPs of Sales need to train their reps on how to speak in a marketing context that will create compelling stories, and VPs of Marketing needs to train reps on how to be on-brand in their content.
Sit down and do a brainstorm with reps to help them on their brand journey and the rest will work itself out.