What makes this especially confounding is that, when you get down into the details of each team's mission, they're ultimately trying to solve the same problem: How do we communicate with prospects in a way that converts them into customers?
Consider it like this: your salespeople have intimate knowledge of your sales process and customers, as well as valuable insights into what kind of content, language, and resources are the most effective at closing deals.
Meanwhile, your writers and designers have a knack for taking information and presenting it in a compelling and visually appealing way. They can also optimize content and strategically determine promotional channels, frequency, and automation opportunities.
By aligning your sales and marketing teams, you'll be bringing these skill sets together to result in a more efficient structure that closes more deals and brings in more revenue.
Table of Contents
- Sales and Marketing Alignment
- Sales and Marketing Content
- Sales and Marketing Automation
- Sales Enablement Tools
- Reports and Dashboards: Metrics That Matter
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Studies have shown that companies with aligned sales and marketing departments achieve 20% annual revenue growth. But how exactly do you obtain those results? What kind of actions can you take internally to prioritize sales and marketing alignment? Here are some ideas that you can put to use immediately.
Hold Alignment Meetings
The first step to aligning your sales and marketing teams is to get them together in a productive and collaborative environment. These sales and marketing alignment meetings can take the form of weekly debriefs, out-of-office lunch outings, or loosely structured brainstorm sessions. Whatever method you opt for, be sure to set an agenda ahead of time and encourage a free flow of ideas and information from all parties.
Open Up Communication
However, ideas, feedback, and general conversations shouldn't be restricted to alignment meetings alone. Instead, having an open line of consistent communication throughout the workday is one of the best ways to align sales and marketing teams. Information and constructive criticism can be shared throughout the process rather than after projects have already gotten too far along. This saves your teams from experiencing wasted time, confusion, or frustration.
Email Signatures and Smart CTAs
When you implement CTAs into your email signatures, you can make it so your company's newest and most relevant content is linked to your email signature. This means that at the end of every email you send to prospects or customers will have a CTA at the end of it that will effectively open up yet another avenue for your audience to encounter and engage with your company.
In marketing terms, this gets your newest content in front of people and drives blog traffic. This can also benefit your salespeople, as a CTA can be designed so that it links specific content to specific personas depending on their placement in the sales funnel. For example, if one of your salespeople is in contact with a lead, then the CTA at the end of their email will link to content that will help propel that lead toward a purchase.
One of the best examples of this comes from Sigstr, who define themselves as “The leader in email signature marketing.” Here's a sample of what their program can do:
These email signature CTAs can also be image-based, which will help catch people's attention and increase the chances that they click on the link.
Develop Shared Goals
Sales tend to relate to revenue and deal goals more directly, but these ends should also be at the forefront of your marketing team's mind. Including both parties in the development of your business' growth goals will help you to better collaborate towards reaching and exceeding them. During these conversations, your sales and marketing teams should discuss the milestones in your sales process that will lead to those closed deals and won revenue and set measurable goals for each step between a new lead and a happy customer.
Sales and Marketing Content
The most effective inbound sales enablement processes are built upon a foundation of unique sales content that closes more deals. This content is informed by the direct experiences of your sales team, optimized by your content writers, and beautified by your designers. The result is sales content that is directly relevant to your prospects' pain points, challenges, and objections so that your sales team is better able to overcome those issues and close deals.
Here are a few of the marketing resources that your sales team can take advantage of as they continue to pursue and convert valuable leads.
Blogs are, by nature, helpful resources. They teach the audience something valuable and are written with a particular buyer persona in mind. This is why they make excellent, low-maintenance resources for your sales team. They are bite-sized pieces of content that answer a specific question, allowing your salespeople to quickly respond to (or even prevent) commonly asked questions, particularly at the beginning of the sales enablement process.
For example, if your sales enablement team finds that prospective clients often have questions about how much your services cost, or what your services can provide that make the cost a worthwhile investment, then your salespeople could pass that information onto the marketing team. From there, your content marketers could produce a blog post that addresses those questions in an easy-to-read format.
In the same way, if your marketing team needs fresh ideas for the blogs they're writing, have them approach your sales team and ask what kinds of questions they often encounter. The easier it is for your two teams to interact and share information, the easier it will be for your company to provide its customers with blog content that is relevant and valuable to their needs.
The key to a successful content marketing strategy is to understand and speak to the needs of your buyer personas. As you come up with blog titles and topics, try the following approach:
- Common Reasons Why (insert the benefit your company or service offers) is Often Overlooked by (insert one of your personas)
- How to Solve for (insert your buyer persona's problem)
- 10 Reasons Why (insert your buyer persona's problem) is Still Happening
With this approach, you can ensure that your content strategy is producing blogs that specifically target the kinds of questions and concerns your buyer personas and preemptively provides them with the answers they're going to be looking for.
Content offers can be shared throughout the sales process to further educate or nurture leads, as well as to determine their eligibility for sales contact. For example, multiple content offer downloads may qualify a lead to become a sales qualified lead, at which point you could trigger an automated workflow or send a direct message from a salesperson.
Here's a list of some common content offers:
- Case studies
- Comparison guides (pricing, features, etc.)
Regardless of the form the offer takes, content offers add another tool to your team's toolbox for further nurturing and qualifying leads. If you're able to achieve sales and marketing alignment, then you'll be able to create content offers that speak directly to a specific persona and entice them to exchange their contact info for your content offer.
Video content is one of the more versatile forms of content that you can use and tends to focus on integrating video into a content channel that already exists in your marketing strategy. Just like with any piece of content, videos won't appeal to all of your personas, but you want to make sure that you have it as an option.
As you can imagine, the millennial generation is especially excited about video content. Like a report from HubSpot says—and the following graph illustrates—over 60% of adults aged 18 to 24, polled from a population of 3,000+ people worldwide, said that they wanted to see more video content available in the future.
Video content can do just about anything, but if you're looking for a place to get started, here are some of the most effective ways to implement video in your marketing strategy:
- Thank you videos serve the same role as “Thank You Pages” but convert them into a video format. These tend to involve someone from your sales enablement team personally thanking a lead for downloading a content offer.
- Demonstrations provide visual explanations of your product or service and illustrate to your audience why that product or service is worth investing in.
- Staff interviews and spotlights pull back the curtain and let your audience see the people who make your company special. These videos make for great social media content as they build rapport with an audience, highlight company culture, and encourage leads down the sales funnel.
- Repurposing content is arguably the best way to implement video into your sales enablement and marketing content strategies. This approach involves taking blog posts, emails, product pages, or even content offers and converting them into video explanations or lectures, exposing your content to an audience who may not have found it otherwise.
- Video Sequences are triggered by your CRM and can be used to help further leads through the sales funnel. For example, you could create One-to-One videos that can give your audience the impression that they're having a personal tutor walk them through a web page, presentation, spreadsheet, or any other piece of content you've provided them with.
Chances are that your salespeople wouldn't mind spending less time writing emails, so why not let your marketing team help? Phone and email scripts are one way to optimize and standardize the more menial aspects of your sales enablement process, particularly at the top of your sales funnel.
Creating a sales script is simple too! Simply have your salespeople pick out five-to-ten examples of the kinds of emails they find themselves writing on a regular basis and submit them to your marketing team. You could also look at the last ten deals your sales team close and review the emails that lead to the close.
From there, all your marketing team has to do is repurpose existing content into a template that can be easily sent to multiple leads or customers. This will help reduce response times to prospect inquiries, ensure consistency of messaging and help your sales team better prepare for sales calls. They can also open the door for sales automation, which will be explored in the next section.
Sales Decks and PDFs
Presentations, slideshows, and one-pagers are a great way to engage with prospects. The marketing team should help optimize and format those resources in order to squeeze maximum value from them. They may be able to use the information within a single deck to write and design multiple pieces of sales collateral for the sales funnel, buyer's journey, and customer flywheel. In addition to presentation decks and one-pagers, your teams could also collaborate on developing custom images for use both during the sales enablement process and in your social media content plan.
Internal Sales Content
Internal sales content can take the form of your regular marketing and sales content including blogs, eBooks, and so on. The difference is that rather than being written for your prospects, it addresses your internal staff. Examples may include training videos scripted by your content writers, infographics by your designers to visualize internal processes, or FAQ blogs by your salespeople to help non-sales employees understand and communicate about common questions.
Sales and Marketing Automation
Sales and marketing automation is all about making your processes better and faster. Automation does more than save you a ton of time - it makes your prospects' and customers' experiences more enjoyable and productive. Sales and marketing alignment is essential if you hope to reap the full benefits of automation. Without consistently transparent collaboration between those teams, your automation strategy will be missing pieces and potential customers will be able to fall through those gaps.
Chatbots can serve many purposes from qualifying leads to handling common support inquiries. Chatbots are used in the sales process to establish a baseline of information and guide prospects toward a hand-off point where they transfer them over to an actual person. While it's always crucial that your audience knows they're talking to a bot, that doesn't mean you can't have some fun with the bots you use.
For example, take a look at the oft-talked-about chatbot National Geographic used on Facebook Messenger to promote their 2017 show about Albert Einstein's work and personal life.
Image Credit: Top Bots
While this bot is no longer active, it's a great example of how a company can use a bot to promote a product or service, answer commonly asked questions, gather contact info, and delight an audience in fun and clever ways.
Automated workflows can help you nurture new leads, follow up with warm leads, and even re-engage with lost leads. Workflows can be integrated with your CRM to seamlessly update contact properties, assign contacts to sales reps, send nurturing follow-up emails, promote new offerings, and much more.
Here are just a few of the workflow triggers HubSpot recommends you make use of in your marketing efforts:
- Page views and Content Offers: If someone on your contact list frequent blogs on a specific topic (like social media marketing, for example), or if they download one of your content offers on that topic, a workflow will send them other relevant material.New Subscribers and Customers: When someone subscribes to your blog or becomes a paying customer, your automated workflow can email them a warm welcome that thanks them for “joining the family” and keeps them engaged with your brand.
- Lead Nurturing: When one of your contacts has downloaded several of your top-of-the-funnel content offers, then it's probably a good indicator that they're ready for the next step in the sales process. A workflow can email the contact with middle-of-the-funnel content that will help progress them further in their buyer's journey.
- Re-engage Inactive Contacts: Reconnect with a contact you haven't heard from in a while by emailing them a coupon or exclusive offer that might get them to reach out to you again.
- Task Reminders for Sales Team: Based on the way a prospect is interacting with your marketing team and their content, you can enroll them in a workflow that will help them progress further down the sales funnel. For example, a workflow could remind a salesperson to connect with someone on LinkedIn, follow-up on a phone-call, or check-in on a lead they haven't heard from in a bit.
Workflows (seen exampled by the HubSpot image above) can be one of the most effective ways to consistently and successfully engage with contacts, converts leads, and delight customers. They're dynamic and versatile and can be used in just about any setting you need them to.
They're also a natural bridge to support your sales and marketing alignment goals, as it links website content (created by your marketing team) that visitors engage with to the salespeople who can then work on converting that visitor into a lead, that lead into a customer, and that customer into an advocate,
Your salespeople likely find themselves regularly writing eerily similar emails to prospects. Sequences automate this part of your sales enablement process by providing a series of pre-written emails to automatically fire off to your prospects. Sequences can vary in content, purpose, and frequency and can be used in just about any stage of your sales pipeline to help you close inbound leads in half the time.
As if that wasn't useful enough, sequences can also make use of videos, meeting links, blogs, content offers, and bottom-of-the-funnel driving activities. This will go a long way toward helping relieve your sales team from needing to take responsibility for some of the menial activities associated with the sales pipeline.
Sales Enablement Tools
It's clear by this point that the ultimate goal of sales and marketing alignment is to achieve true sales enablement. It is about providing the sales enablement tools, content, and resources that they need to successfully engage with prospects at every touchpoint throughout the buyer's journey.
As your team goes through the process of developing and testing different forms and styles of sales enablement content, you will begin to notice trends that can be used to optimize your sales pipeline.
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)
Perhaps the single greatest sales enablement tool you can arm your team with is a capable customer relationship management software (CRM). A great CRM will help you with lead management, sales pipeline development, sales automation, and just about anything else you can think of that would help you reach your sales and marketing alignment goals.
The HubSpot CRM, for example, can help you to strategically develop, implement, and report on all of your sales and marketing content, automation, analytics, and beyond.
For example, Google Analytics only tells you who visits your website but doesn't provide you with any names or other substantial demographic information. It simply assigns the visitor a number and drops a cookie on them. With HubSpot, however, when one of those “numbers” fills out a form or makes a purchase, you'll be provided with their actual contact info.
If they become a customer, then you will also be provided with a roadmap that tracks their entire buyer's journey so you can see all of the interactions that lead to them making a purchase. This will answer questions like:
- Where did they first encounter your company?
- What content did they read?
- How often did they visit your website?
- When did they convert?
- Why did they convert?
This is known as “closed loop reporting,” as it turns each successful purchase into a loop of information. Here's an illustration from HubSpot to help you visualize what this sales and marketing alignment process looks like:
With this information at your disposal, you'll be able to track down what areas of your sales and marketing channels are effective and what areas need refinement. This empowers you to continually fine-tune your processes and prioritize the customer experience in ways that will generate leads and convert those leads into customers.
To learn more about how to get the most out of your HubSpot CRM, contact us and we'd be happy to help determine if the HubSpot CRM is a good fit for your business' needs.
Deal Stages and Sales Pipelines
Another vital sales enablement tool comes courtesy of deal stages, which are customizable roadmaps that help you organize where people are in your pipeline. These help you capture both ends of the sales process: the beginning (first meeting/demo/etc.) and the end (when a deal is closed). This information will illustrate your successes and pinpoint any deficiencies or drop-off points so you can adjust them accordingly.
This is important because knowing why a deal was lost is just as necessary as knowing why a sale was won. When you understand why you lost a deal, you can iterate on your processes and improve the chances that you'll win the deal next time. You'll also want to set-up different “buckets,” as these will help you identify what caused a prospective customer to go elsewhere.
The new insights you gain may affect the prioritization of your personas, identify the need for more unique pipelines for each persona, or even introduce new potential personas you hadn't previously considered.
The goal is ultimately to build a framework for your ideal customer conversion path(s) so you can win more sales and maximize your sales and marketing alignment. Here are some standard deal stages that are commonly used:
- Appointment scheduled
- Additional Discovery
- Verbally agreed to buy
- Contract sent
- Closed won
- Closed lost
Alterations to your sales pipeline may include removing or adding deal stages, changing the order of those deal stages, or placing a higher value on certain steps that you may have previously undervalued. Whatever you do, however, your sales pipeline and deal stages should be tailored to your company and its processes.
Software integrations help you get even more out of your CRM and improve transparency and communication between all of your sales and marketing platforms. For example, the integration between HubSpot CRM and CallRail allows you to easily add offline interactions from incoming calls directly into the corresponding contact records.
There are more than 200 integrations for the HubSpot CRM. If you're looking for a place to start, here are some of the software integration we recommend:
- Databox: Instead of needing to log into multiple platforms individually, Databox makes it easy for you to keep all of your data in a single centralized location. You'll also be able to create custom reports using all of the different, trackable metrics within HubSpot.
- MagneticOne: This integration allows you to scan all of the business cards you have laying around and immediately add their contact information to your CRM. It will even recognize over 25 unique languages, making it easier than ever to network internationally.
- GoToWebinar: Webinars are incredibly dynamic and valuable tools in marketing. With this integration, you can sync registrants, landing page submissions, and contacts lists, allowing you to create HubSpot forms that will automatically enroll or invite a contact for your future GoToWebinar events.
- CallRail: When you integrate CallRail with HubSpot, you'll be able to seamlessly transfer information from phone calls and text messages with prospects directly into your HubSpot contact records. This helps your sales and marketing team better segment and nurture those prospects.
- SurveyMonkey: Gathering data on your customers and prospects is one of the pillars to successful sales and marketing alignment. By integrating SurveyMonkey with HubSpot, all of the survey responses you receive will be gathered and logged directly into your CRM's contact records.
- Leads Bridge: Use this integration to pull your Smart Lists from HubSpot and use them to create custom audiences in the Facebook Ads Manager. This allows you to target your ads to a specific list of contacts, or create a “lookalike audience” to broaden your reach, all without needing to export or import a single file.
Reports and Dashboards: Metrics That Matter
As with any other part of your business, there are metrics that matter for sales and marketing alignment. Whether it's the number of sessions your website has had, new contacts you've acquired, customers who have made a purchase, or various other factors, you're going to want to know how well your content is performing.
The following metrics are just a few areas that you may want to target and monitor. Marketing and sales enablement software such as HubSpot (seen in the image above) will help you do so through their easy to navigate custom reporting tools and dashboards.
Conversion rates are a great measure of the efficacy of each step within your sales process. For example, if you have a great visitor-to-contact rate but a low MQL to SQL rate, you may want to focus on improving the parts of your pipeline that are involved in nurturing MQLs towards becoming SQLs.
Conversion rates can be tracked for any activity or form of engagement that holds value within your process. Here are some key conversion rates to monitor:
- Visitor-to-Contact Conversion Rate
- MQL to SQL Conversion Rate
- SQL to Customer Conversion Rate
- Overall Close Rate
- Landing Page Submission Rate
- Call-to-Action Click-Through Rate
If you identify opportunities for improvement within these areas, encourage your marketing and sales teams to perform a self-audit to identify where things are going awry.
Deal analytics help you uncover opportunities to close more deals. These metrics focus on the deals themselves and include these metrics and more:
- Deal amount
- Deals closed won/lost
- Number of deals
- Deal forecast
- Deal revenue leaderboard
- Deals closed vs. goal
- Deal stage probability
Cross-data reporting helps you get the most out of your deal analytics to identify which leads convert best and how to gain more of them. Here are some examples of cross-data deal analytics to explore:
- The average deal amount by buyer persona
- The average deal closed won rate by channel
- The average number of deals by buyer persona
- Deal forecast by owner
When you take advantage of deal analytics like these, there will be thousands of completely customizable combinations you can use to pull data from when your CRM is fully implemented and your internal team is using both sides of the platform.
This not only helps align your teams but also allows both your marketing and sales departments to identify content and strategies that are working well and can be replicated, as well as those that are underperforming or missing altogether.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Ultimately you want to know that the money you're spending is bringing in valuable leads that convert into sales. These metrics will help you to show your return on investment (ROI) for your marketing and sales enablement efforts.
- Return on ad spend (ROAS)
- Cost per lead
- Customer acquisition cost
- Customer lifetime value
Assessing these KPIs will help you optimize your budgets and ad spend. It's important to dive into these results before reducing your financial investment in marketing efforts since doing so can have a direct negative impact on these figures that could take months to recover from.
Remember, when your sales and marketing teams are aligned, an investment in marketing is an investment in sales.
Databox is one of the most useful tools at your disposal for keeping your data organized and actionable. With this program's functionality, you can map out all of your KPIs over a specific period of time (ex. 90-days) and see if you're on track to meet your goals.
Like the image above illustrates, Databox makes it easier than ever to look at multiple sources of data and use them to track your company's progress toward specific goals. And since Databox can integrate with your HubSpot, you can report on your sales and marketing CRM. This will show you what metrics your teams are pursuing, which metrics they share, and how you can better bridge the two departments.
In the same way that deal stages and sales pipelines help you see where your sales and marketing teams are succeeding (and where they're not), HotJar is a program designed to help you track where your website is helping your customers (and where it needs adjustment).
- Heatmaps will visualize the behaviors people exhibit on your website by tracking where they're clicking, how far down a page they scroll, and where their cursor spends the most of its time.
- Visitor Recordings allow you to watch actual “footage” of your visitors interacting with your website. By seeing where people click, tap, and move the mouse, you can quickly identify any usability issues and address them accordingly.
- Form Analysis' show you how often your forms are completed, which fields take too much time to fill out, which ones are left blank, and help illustrate why a visitor abandoned your form.
Conclusion: Directing Your Company Towards Success
With this information, you'll be better equipped to begin the process of sales and marketing alignment within your organization. You'll find that this form of collaboration results in improved sales enablement, more open and transparent communication, and an overall increase in productivity and satisfaction. The last step in the process is to motivate your sales team to use these tools consistently and to keep both departments engaged and bought into these improved processes.
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