If your Marketing team is traveling down a road at 100 miles per hour toward a brilliant campaign, and your Sales team is going down a path in the opposite direction, stopping regularly to scout for potential customers, which team will find qualified leads first?
It’s not a trick question. Your answer is as good as mine. But if either team manages to find some leads, it won’t have been nearly as many as if both teams had worked together.
“Marketing and Sales Alignment.” We’ve all heard of it. It can sound too theoretical or too challenging to implement. But I can tell you that at Vidyard, it isn’t a “nice to have”, it’s a “need to have.” In fact, sales and marketing alignment helped Vidyard grow by more than 1000% between 2012 and 2014.
That growth was the topic of a previous Salesforce case study, where we discussed how we utilize the Salesforce platform to improve efficiencies and customer service. Automation and CRM tools are only a part of the bigger picture of marketing and sales alignment. At Vidyard, we look at the “What,” the “How,” and the “Who” to keep these two teams in sync and on the road to continued growth and success.
Traditionally, Marketing and Sales have been set up to run independently of each other. Marketing does what it needs to do to produce a large volume of leads, which it then passes off to Sales. Sales is measured by how many deals it closes. If Marketing produces a high number of leads and Sales teams are expert at closing leads, why then have these teams so often not been able to meet their goals? Something is broken here.
The buyer mentality has changed. Now, at least 70 percent of the sales cycle is completed before the buyer even contacts the seller, according to Sirius Decisions. Buyers are accessing content, data, and peer networks to self-service their needs, which in effect means that Marketing is making the first sales call. Sales has never needed Marketing more, and it has never been more imperative that Marketing knows exactly what Sales needs to close the deal. Marketing needs to know what buyers’ interests and pain points are so that Sales receives better leads, not simply more leads.
At Vidyard, the “What” means that both Marketing and Sales work together to align their objectives on qualified opportunities, pipeline, and revenue. We call this aligned team “Smarketing,” and both sides of it are measured on their actual impact on the business.
Now both Marketing and Sales know they’re accountable for qualified leads, opportunities, pipeline, and revenue. So how we do we implement this unified goal?
Both Marketing and Sales need to be part of the conversation when defining what the ideal prospect looks like. They need to work together on creating ideal customer profiles and defining buyer personas, target markets, and related value propositions. At Vidyard, these definitions are continually refined, and the Sales team’s input is sought when doing so.
Once both teams know what we’re looking for, we work to be able to identify those prospective customers. Marketing and Sales collaborate on lead scoring methodologies, and what actions should trigger conversion from one stage of the funnel to the next. That includes the weighted value of different digital interactions and marketing program responses.
Both teams have a clear understanding of who the customer is, and what they might look like at different stages. Our teams have also created a unified “revenue engine,” which outlines the lead-to-revenue process and what information Sales needs from Marketing when a lead is flipped. If a lead is flipped too early, the process is reconsidered and realigned.
To remain aligned throughout the process, Marketing cannot simply “flip and go.” Where the traditional funnel began with Marketing and was quickly transitioned to Sales, now both teams work together throughout the cycle to make sure not only that the Marketing team’s leads are stronger, but that Sales receives the support they need from Marketing through programs and processes.
Using the right tools to their fullest also ensures Vidyard’s Sales and Marketing teams are aligned. We link our marketing automation with our Salesforce CRM, which provides a single view into all of a customer’s interactions with us. When both teams know exactly how a lead is engaging with us, they can respond accordingly, whether with further, targeted nurturing, or with related sales conversations.
According to Sirius Decisions, other than better leads, Sales’ top two requests from Marketing are programs that they can launch themselves, and programs that accelerate their pipeline. At Vidyard, the Sales team utilizes a variety of automated nurture streams set up for them by the Marketing team, enabling them to keep existing opportunities warm while focusing their energy on other accounts. Our Sales people also have the ability to quickly create their own custom videos, send them to a prospect, and receive detailed metrics as soon as that prospect watches the video. Simple tools and processes like these can go a long way to increasing sales effectiveness and improving funnel velocity.
Sales and Marketing Alignment remains only a theory if a company’s people don’t buy into it. Alignment needs to be a part of the culture, and putting it into action starts from the top down. At the executive level, Marketing needs to be recognized for being as vital to revenue generation as Sales, and Sales must be given all the necessary opportunities to enable Marketing to generate the best leads possible.
On the individual level, both teams need to develop and maintain strong working relationships, and consider the input of their peers. There is a Sales presence at Vidyard’s weekly Marketing meetings, for example. A champion of the process can also help keep the alignment on track. That person at Vidyard is the Director of Demand Generation and Revenue Operations, but this role could be filled by someone in Marketing Operations or Sales Operations as well. We’ve seen other organizations add a full-time “Sales Liaison” role to their marketing team as a way to facilitate this alignment and the continuous exchange of information and feedback between the two groups.
Marketing and Sales Alignment isn’t just a “nice to have.” It can have a significant impact on your company’s growth, as it has here at Vidyard. Forrester Research has indicated that aligned organizations achieve an average of 32% annual revenue growth while less aligned companies report an average 7% decline in revenue. The numbers are there, and the tools and strategies are available to create this kind of alignment today. Just remember that the solution doesn’t just lie in people, processes or technology; it requires focused attention on all three areas and a disciplined approach to objective setting and performance management.
Michael Litt is the CEO and co-founder of Vidyard, a video marketing platform helping marketers measure the impact of their video content. Thought leader, surfer, and serial entrepreneur, Michael is passionate about content marketing and changing the way we engage and purchase with video. Chat with Michael on Twitter @MichaelLitt or LindIken to learn more.
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