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How To Design An Action-Oriented Sales And Marketing Meeting

How To Design An Action-Oriented Sales And Marketing Meeting

Meetings of any kind should largely be about providing direction, making decisions and ensuring everyone understands what’s most important. They are a filtering process. And that’s never more important when marketing and sales teams sit down together at the same time.

“Any status updates to report?”

If your team meetings begin this way — or even worse, if they continue this way as you work around the table from one person to another — you can be pretty sure there are some people will be itching to leave as soon as possible. Whether it’s a meeting for sales reps, the marketing team or customer service group, talking about what everyone’s up to doesn’t necessarily move the collective organization forward in any meaningful way.

Meetings of any kind should largely be about providing direction, making decisions and ensuring everyone understands what’s most important. They are a filtering process. And that’s never more important when marketing and sales teams sit down together at the same time.

It was exactly 10 years ago that an article appeared in the Harvard Business Review that described “The war between sales and marketing.” Unfortunately, things don’t appear to have gotten much better. A recent survey of more than 1,000 people by DemandGen Report showed that 49 per cent of professionals feel the two departments aren’t communicating very well. As a result, 42 per cent said the processes they use to work are flawed and nearly as many, 40 per cent, said their results aren’t being evaluated in the proper way.

You can’t force people to come to a meeting, but assuming there is at least some agreement that communication needs to improve, how best to ensure the time marketing and sales teams spend together is as productive and as worthwhile as possible?

Leave The Numbers Behind (At Least For Now)

Sales people want to meet their quota of closed deals. Marketing teams are looking across a range of engagement and demand metrics. Everyone already knows this, and there’s no point in going over and reviewing these statistics until both sides start to have a shared sense of mission. Instead, facilitate an open discussion around the following questions:

  1. What’s a customer? Challenge the assumptions around the room about what might seem like the most obvious thing of all. To sales, a customer might be someone who has already made a purchase in the past, while marketing teams might see prospects who have started downloading white papers and other assets as already in the funnel. Similarly, a customer that hasn’t done any business in two years might be considered a dead account by some, but not others. Leaders should try to let all the ideas come out and perhaps even write them on a white board before clarifying how the company wants to shape this definition.
  2. What’s a day in the life look like? You can’t fix a flawed process until you understand exactly what it is. Sales and marketing teams are both so busy that they likely don’t understand the full scope of what each side is focused on from one day to the next. Marketing may assume reps are diligently putting information into the CRM solution only to discover that a lot gets left out, for example, or sales reps might find out that the marketing team is spending time developing content about a product or vertical market that isn’t really their top priority. Write a rough outline for the typical processes that need to happen from identifying a potential sale to closing the deal and map out which belong to sales and which to marketing. Look for where overlap or shared ownership exists. If you can even clarify how one process is supposed to ideally work, it will have been a productive meeting.
  3. What metrics bring us closer to business objectives? Companies exist to make money, but there’s more to it than that. In some cases an organization is trying to expand into a new area of business as an older one starts to decline. Others are focusing on becoming the customer service leader in their sector. Sales and marketing activities should naturally align with these kinds of objectives but often other things get in the way. Talk about where the bottlenecks are and identify opportunities to collaborate.

Write An RFP To Design The Perfect Sales And Marketing Structure

In the B2B space, a lot of activity within large enterprises is driven by customers who issue a request for proposal (RFP) that outlines their biggest challenges, the outcomes they hope to reach and the specific requirements that will be necessary to get there. A great RFP is one of the surest ways to find the right supplier and, eventually, success in a project.

As a creative exercise, take the RFP approach to the sales and marketing relationship in your firm. Though the details vary from one firm to another, the following are some examples that could help sketch out what a healthy marketing and sales team would look like:

Organizational background: How do both departments see themselves today and where would they like to be?

Project goals and target audience: This gets back to the “What’s a customer” question mentioned above. If you have this figured out, the rest will come naturally.

Scope of work and deliverables: Besides the business-specific metrics for sales and marketing, what might be signs the collaboration is going well, and what will it take to get there? For example, should this be a one-off meeting or a more regular get-together.

Timeline: Improved sales and marketing alignment might be the destination, but what’s the journey? Will getting on the same page take weeks, months or a full year?

Budget: Maybe all you need is to buy donuts for the meeting, but in other cases sales and marketing alignment might be accelerated by strategic investments in the right tools. This could include CRM, of course, but also marketing automation, analytics and more.

Find A Way To Keep Connected Before The Meeting Ends

Nobody likes having their e-mail messages ignored. Nobody likes being part of long e-mail chains. Nobody wants to be pestered with phone calls every other hour. Yet part of the value of working more cooperatively involves marketing and sales groups determining the preferred ways to ask questions, get feedback and resolve problems. Don’t wait until everyone goes back to their desks to iron this out. Instead, offer some suggestions and see what resonates.

  • Should we be social? People may already be using things like Facebook and Twitter in their personal lives, and there are business-ready equivalents that may be easier and more fun to use for virtual conversations between sales and marketing teams.
  • Is there an appetite for an app? Consumers are no longer the only ones using apps to be more productive. Businesses are creating highly sophisticated apps of their own that work internally to manage business processes, and communications can be a strong part of that.
  • Are you ready for your close up? Cloud computing is making it easier than ever before to not only share data but stream communications from one device to another. This includes the use of video as a way to reach out to staff no matter where they are and avoid the occasional problems with tone in e-mail or written communications.

As always, end every meeting with clarity on key action items and who’s responsible. And offer a heartfelt thank you – when sales and marketing teams agree to start the process of meeting they’re one step closer to the kind of alignment that many firms are desperately hoping to see.

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