It’s no secret that there is often tension between sales and marketing at B2B organizations. This situation is only exacerbated by the oft-present silo mentality, where departments operate as individual units. In fact, Forrester data shows that only 8% of B2B companies have tight marketing and sales alignment. And a report from DemandGen and Insideview asserts that the prevalence of fractured departments is only increasing, driven by the following challenges:

1.   Communication

2.   Broken / flawed processes

3.   Measurement by different metrics

But until the communication challenge is overcome, the other two issues will continue to become larger problems for the organization.

The Importance of Communication

A recent study from App Data Room and Marketo found that sales and marketing alignment can make an organization 67% better at closing deals, reduce friction by 108%, and generate 209% more value from marketing. And according to a 2013 IDC survey, poor alignment costs B2B companies 10% or more of annual revenue, while companies with strong alignment can expect to achieve 20% growth rates. 

Let’s explore some reasons why marketing and sales communication and alignment are so critical to the organization:

Reps need to be empowered to add value to the conversation

When almost 100% of B2B deals are influenced by content, it is imperative for reps to know what content to share and when. Unfortunately, 2/3 of customers feel that sales people are unprepared for initial meetings. This means that reps don’t have the content or resources they need to get ready for the meetings and have value-add conversations with prospects.

Misalignment reduces efficiency and productivity

Less than 1/3 of a sales person’s time goes to core selling activities. For example, a CMO study found that up to 40% of a rep’s time is spent looking for or creating content to share with prospects.

With proper alignment and communication, marketing can arm the sales team with the latest content, research, and industry data so that sales can be more responsive and effective. The result? An almost 40% increase in closed deals and approximately 50% decrease in churn.

Sales demands content and marketing has content, but resources still go to waste

Marketing creates a ton of great content, but 85% of marketing content is never used by sales. At the same time, 95% of reps say content is essential to progress prospects through the pipeline, but they can’t find it, don’t know what content to use when, or lack the confidence that it will help advance their deals. This lack of communication and alignment causes organization-wide disconnects, missed opportunities, and lost revenue. 

Data and ROI are required to make smart decisions

Data is how marketing and sales know what content and messaging works and what doesn’t. It’s how content creators know where to focus their efforts and how sales reps know what collateral to share with prospects. Data provides valuable insights into areas for improvement and opportunities for new strategies or processes, as well as enables management to measure performance.

4 Steps to Effective Marketing and Sales Communication

From the scenarios discussed above, it’s clear that sales and marketing alignment and communication should be a priority for any B2B organization.

Use these 4 steps to get started:

Step 1: Acquire support from leadership

The success of any alignment effort is directly correlated to the level of execution. That means support and participation from executive leadership and consistent implementation across the organization.

In setting the precedence for sharing information between departments, alignment and communication will become ingrained in the culture. And while it may seem on the surface as if the sales and marketing departments have different objectives, the two are actually working toward the same goal: driving revenue. 

Step 2: Implement technology to support alignment and communication

To effectively support marketing and sales communication, technology must be consistent, accessible, and easily incorporated into both departments’ workflows. A sales enablement tool improves marketing and sales communication by using real-time data to determine what content most effectively progresses deals and generates the highest ROI and then surfaces recommended content based on sales situation, right in the reps’ CRM and email.

This tooling enables sales reps to deliver the right message at the right time, allowing them to remain focused on sales objectives. It also offers insight into what works and where there are gaps in the content library, so marketing can better focus their time and optimize efforts. With these types of data, both departments can make informed decisions about strategy and process.

Step 3: Align around the same metrics

Marketing is traditionally measured on top-of-funnel metrics, such as lead generation, brand awareness, and campaign performance. Sales is traditionally measured on bottom-of-funnel metrics, such as revenue generated, number of closed deals, and renewals / upsells. But when both departments are measured based around pipeline, it’s easier for them to work with rather than against each other – they can share goals and priorities. 

Step 4: Share feedback

The best way for organizations to increase the bottom line is to work smarter and more efficiently. For example, use metrics to determine which pieces of content are most effective in extending the reach of your message and have the greatest success in helping to close deals. 

It’s important here for sales and marketing to maintain a continuous feedback loop. This ‘shareconomy of knowledge’ relies on sharing rather than hoarding both content and feedback. For example, the sales people are on the front-line, talking to prospects and customers on a daily basis. They gain insights into pain points, challenges, and needs that should be shared with marketing, so that they can create relevant content.

Marketing and sales communication is critical to selling effectively in today’s ever-changing marketplace. These tips will help your organization improve alignment and see those crucial bottom-line results.

Shelley Cernel is the Senior Marketing Manager for KnowledgeTree.

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