Your company may be executing in all the inbound marketing areas such as social media, email and content creation. Your social following may be growing, email subscribers increasing and website ranking rising in search engine results. But at the end of the day, we all want to hold our marketing responsible for bottom-line results. We want to know how all of it is contributing to revenue growth.
But the challenge with calculating B2B marketing return is that marketing isn’t responsible for closing sales. It’s responsible for providing qualified, ready-to-buy contacts to sales teams. So unless these two departments are aligned, you’re going to have trouble holding marketing accountable for hard dollars.
If you’re having trouble with this, it may be because you’ve skipped the three initial steps to aligning marketing efforts to sales goals. Fear not, though, because we’re sharing what we’ve found puts companies back in control of aligning these two departments.
The First Three Steps To Aligning Marketing & Sales
1. Buyer personas. We all know that marketing and sales need to agree who the buyers are. But too often companies put off having a meeting that is dedicated to defining and documenting buyers’ traits. You can’t assume that everyone agrees on these characteristics. The information has to be continuously updated and made available to your teams. Marketing and sales departments, and the people within those departments, will continue to butt heads until they openly agree on whom they’re targeting and how to do so effectively.
2. Lead scoring. We often use the term “lead” in reference to a potential buyer. But that’s pretty vague when we consider the different stages a prospect goes through during the B2B buyer’s journey. Marketing and sales teams need to agree on how to define a potential buyer based on what stage of the buying process he is in. They also must agree on what signals a prospect will provide to show he’s ready to move on to the next stage of the process. This helps marketing know when to pass a potential buyer to sales and when to keep nurturing him. Once it’s decided how to score leads, much of the nurturing process can be executed online with the use of marketing automation software.
3. Brand message document. This is a document to help you define and differentiate your brand in a way that resonates powerfully with customers, prospects, employees and other key audiences. Essentially, it helps you manage and focus how your brand message is communicated. While the creation of this document is one of the most important steps to aligning your marketing and sales efforts, it’s oftentimes left out of the process.
If your marketing and sales teams don’t have a concise understanding of what the brand message is, they’re going to be sending a lot of mixed, sometimes outright contradictory messages. Marketing will be tweeting one thing, sales will be emailing another, and before a potential buyer completes his journey through the buying process he will be confused. Even worse, the inconsistencies in your messaging may lose you new business.
Communication Is Key
Communication is key to any relationship. Marketing and sales must work as one unit to build a relationship with potential buyers. They must act and communicate according to the brand they represent. When this alignment is accomplished, you’ll be able to more accurately measure the efforts of your marketing.