There has been a divide between the worlds of marketing and sales for as long as anyone can remember.
The traditional model had marketing strictly working to drive leads and sales professionals waiting around on the marketing team to deliver those leads so they could work them into paying customers. That worked well for a time (pre-Internet that is) which meant marketing and sales, while ultimately dependent on one another, rarely had to work together.
But buyers’ habits have changed dramatically over the past several years, and along with them, the need for sales and marketing to adapt.
Today, more unified models have sales and marketing operating as a single unit toward common growth goals -- each team seeking to equip, inform and empower the other. If you’ve seen this in action, you already know it’s a truly glorious (and profitable) sight to see. Yet, while unification has proven to be successful in creating leaner, more effective growth, it also has some unique challenges, especially regarding expectations and scope of work.
In this article, I’ll cover the key things that sales professionals should expect from the marketing team when both teams are working in a modern, unified fashion.
If you’re a sales professional reading this article, consider this your sales enablement checklist of sorts.
It will ensure you get all the tools and knowledge you need to nurture more leads and close more deals (aka get those commissions, baby)!
1. Educational & Nurturing Content
Today’s buyers research everything online long before they engage with a salesperson. Even when they do engage, they are often not ready to buy right away…so they need a little extra nurturing from sales.
It’s increasingly common for sales reps to provide relevant content (blogs, reviews, eBooks, guides, etc.) to the buyer to help guide them in their search for answers.
This is where marketing comes in.
Smart marketing teams should craft content that not only helps attract new leads, but also answers buyer’s questions at various stages within the sales cycle. This educational content is then handed over to sales to help them nurture leads while also keeping messaging, authority and conversion opportunities within reach.
What to expect:
This means sales professionals should expect timely, relevant and actionable marketing content that they can use in a multitude of top- to middle-of-funnel sales situations, such as speeding up the lead qualification process or converting cold leads into warm prospects.
2. Campaign Updates & Notifications
Marketing teams are constantly seeking to formulate new campaigns or improve upon the existing ones. Each new or modified campaign often contains its own messaging, offer, supporting collateral, goals, etc.
Sales professionals need to know this stuff...stat.
Although I’m a career marketer, I’ve also spent years in sales. I can’t tell you how frustrated I would get when a lead would call in requesting whatever marketing had promised and our sales team had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. This does more than just make sales professionals look stupid, it makes the company look stupid.
While marketing should have certainly notified the sales reps of the campaign, the real culprit was the absence of a simple, reliable system for marketing and sales to effectively communicate with one another.
What to expect:
Sales professionals should definitely expect campaign updates and notifications from the marketing team, but work together with them to develop a communications process first before pointing fingers.
3. Useful Technology
Today, great marketers are more than just marketers – they are technologists.
In fact, according to Forrester, marketing departments will soon outpace IT departments in technology spend and implementation. I won’t even hire an Intern that doesn’t have at least a fundamental understanding of common marketing SaaS products.
So what does this mean for sales professionals?
Effective sales and marketing alignment requires more than just shared terms, agendas and goals. It requires the alignment of technology too. Isolated software creates isolated efforts, which will work against you in the long run. It’s the marketing team’s job to implement and integrate these technology tools…not IT and definitely not sales. More specifically, we’re talking about marketing automation, CMS, CRM and analytics tools.
“Why is it the job of the marketing team and not sales or IT,” you ask?
The more time sales professionals spend on technology, the less time they spend “in production.” Yes, they do need to properly track and manage their leads within a CRM, but it’s marketing’s job to integrate that CRM with their marketing software.
This is also more advantageous for marketing because it helps them close the loop in their reporting, more easily obtaining key metrics like marketing cost-per-customer acquisition. While the IT department could handle the implementation, they actually live in a very different world of technology. One closer related to infrastructure, security and management than to marketing/sales specific SaaS products.
There are literally thousands of marketing and sales software tools out there with varying degrees of integration capabilities. A maze best routed by tech-savvy marketing professionals.
What to expect:
In short, sales teams should expect implementation and integration of a CRM tool (like Salesforce, HubSpot CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.) that meets their needs for quick access/updates and contact management.
This leads us into #4…
4. Real-Time Contact Data
Contact record updates do tie into a few of the other items on this list, but it’s important enough to single out as its own item.
When sales professionals are managing a contact in their CRM, they typically see only those activities that relate to the sales rep and the contact. However, it’s advantageous for the sales rep to see ALL communications the contact has had with the company. This gives them insight that improves their ability to convert that contact to a customer, like what web pages they visited most, what marketing emails they’ve engaged with, what social media networks they’re most active in and so on.
This type of data is only possible when the sales rep’s CRM is integrated with the marketing team’s CMS, marketing and analytics software (the second step in aligning sales and marketing).
What to expect:
So, if sales professionals want to get all this juicy, sales boosting info within their contacts’ records, they should expect marketing to integrate their CRM and extract this data in a simple to understand contact history.
5. Sales-Focused Assets
Much like we discussed in item #1 above, sales needs content to help guide buyers further down the funnel to a close.
But there is a distinct different between marketing content and sales-focused assets.
This sales-focused content is often less educational and “soft sale” in nature, focusing more on the bottom of the funnel to help close the sale. A few examples might be a company overview with video testimonials, a guide simplifying how to conduct a transaction with the company or even a simple pricing calculator. This could also be printed collateral like a company brochure or well branded personal business cards.
What to expect:
Sales professionals should expect these items from the marketing team in conjunction with the other, more middle/top of funnel, educational content they produce.
6. Feedback Mechanisms
The best way to learn how to sell more stuff to buyers is to simply ask the people buying that stuff. Want to know something about your buyers? Ask!
Quick rant: It never ceases to amaze me how few businesses actually collect feedback in a consistent, methodical fashion. So easy, yet so neglected.
There are all kinds of ways to go about collecting feedback from customers and prospects. In the marketing world, we call these “feedback mechanisms” and they are amazing assets in driving both revenue and service/product direction. This includes a multitude of surveys, questionnaires, qualitative phone interviews and so on.
In my opinion, sales professionals shouldn’t be spending their time in the weeds of creating these feedback mechanisms. They should, however, work with marketing in determining what type of data would be valuable to gain (see more on this in #7 below).
Soon after these feedback mechanisms are in place, a steady flow of powerful insight will start rolling in…and everyone, including leadership, will be stoked about this.
What to expect:
Sales professionals should expect the completed versions of these surveys, questionnaires, etc. in an easy to deploy format. While marketing deploys these a vast majority of the time, it’s still necessary for sales to kick a few out when needed. They should also expect a regular report containing actionable data that allows them to improve their numbers.
This pretty much goes without saying...
In order for sales professionals to get all the wonderful things I’m mentioning in this list (which they absolutely should), there MUST be some collaboration between the two teams.
This gets tricky when it comes to the typical personalities we’ve all encountered within both fields.
Sales professionals, due to the nature of their job, tend to place instant monetary value upon their time. 1 hour equates to 20 calls which equates to 5 meetings which equates to 1 potential deal closed which equates to $500 in commissions…that kinda thing.
Marketing professionals, also due to the nature of their job, tend to get buried within the massive workload required to pull off a successful marketing campaign.
Sales teams don’t want to lose out on commissions and marketing teams don’t want to miss important deadlines.
Regardless, both teams need to suck it up and collaborate if they're going to thrive.
What to expect:
With that said, sales reps should expect collaboration from marketing in order to get the ball rolling on all of this sales boosting goodness but understand that it’s a two way street. A potential commission sacrificed with marketing today might equal many more commissions tomorrow.
Yes, I had to close this with a hippy-ish, “let’s all come together” vibe but hey…it’s true, man.
Respect comes easier when both teams are working under a unified growth model, where each is making the other significantly more effective at their job. Moving away from unspoken, short-sighted expectations will also help both teams create a better company culture – which is always good for growth!
What to expect:
Sales professionals should get respect from marketers and marketers should get more respect from sales professionals.
A final note for the Sales Professionals out there…
You are the lifeblood of any organization and should expect some support to help you do more of what you’re paid to do - gain customers.
But before you scribble all these expectations down on an old crummy leads list and staple it to the marketing team’s door, take some time to reflect on your company’s culture and direction first.
If your leadership is not supportive (or at least open to the idea) of unifying marketing and sales for better performance, the expectations we covered here will rarely, if ever, be met.