Do I Really Need To Be In These Meetings?
Understand the importance of sales and marketing alignment within your organization through a real-life example and utilize the list of tips and strategies to help improve current internal alignment.
By Carly Bauer, Marketing Coordinator at Heinz Marketing
At Heinz Marketing, we regularly talk about sales and marketing alignment– A strategic and collaborative approach in which a company’s sales and marketing teams work closely together to achieve common goals, increase efficiency, and improve overall business performance. Even though the term SALES and MARKETING is frequently referenced, the concept of alignment should involve the organization as a whole to allow harmonious integration and coordination of various elements across teams to ensure all parts of the organization work together effectively to achieve goals and objectives.
When referencing sales and marketing, individual teams, or the organization as a whole, the idea and implications of alignment apply to all. In other words, to have alignment at the organizational level, there must be alignment across various teams and within each team. All three tiers need the same core components –
- A well-defined strategy
- A structure that promotes efficient communication and collaboration
- A culture that encourages behavior and attitudes that are consistent with the company’s goals
- Efficient and effective processes
- Ability to recruit, develop, and retain skilled qualified employees
Alignment is an ongoing task that requires continuous effort to improve and maintain. Hence why it’s a topic of conversation that never seems to really go away. Every company varies on it’s level of team alignment, from highly aware and actively pivoting to non-existent. Companies with siloed teams are often in this little to non-existent area of alignment. Not intentionally, but with the nature of how siloed teams are structured, cross-team collaboration is limited and the idea of alignment isn’t seen as a priority. Thus it’s common to see similar issues among different companies that struggle with misalignment. As a marketing consultancy firm, we’ve worked with clients all over the spectrum, providing support to implement effective change and bring awareness to unknown issues.
If you’re wondering how your teams are experiencing misalignment, here’s an example of a situation we supported a client through.
Once upon a time….
I’ll preface this story by stating, from the beginning of our engagement, there were indicators that suggested teams were not fully aligned within the client’s organization. From lack of communication between sales and marketing, delays to schedule interviews with team members, and not prioritizing timely feedback on documents being developed to ensure our work aligned with and supported desired outcomes.
In this specific example, we were in a weekly status call with the client. During this meeting, I presented a sales document that would help streamline their lead prioritization. The next step was to develop the strategy for building a set of sequences the sales team would assign leads to based on routing criteria and the marketing campaigns they were historically involved in. But during our discussion we discovered that a member of the sales team was already tasked with a similar project. This was the first time their marketing team or I heard about this. So what were we going to do?
First step was to set up a follow up meeting. Both sales and marketing had their own criteria of what the sequences needed to accomplish and we needed to align on both. Since the sales team already started developing sequences, we needed to understand their process and strategy, including what criteria was being used to route leads to each sequence, and where our sequences would potentially overlap. Both sales and marketing needed to communicate expectations, goals and desired outcomes, limitations, and work together to come up with a solution. We eventually did but it involved multiple email conversations and a handful of alignment meetings to get there.
You’re probably thinking “Great, problem solved! But it doesn’t really scream the importance of sales and marketing alignment.” Just wait, I’ll get to why in just a second.
In one of our last alignment meetings we spent the time brainstorming and revising how to best limit the number of sequences in use, accommodate both teams objectives, all while keeping the process simple for sales reps to implement. At the end of the call, one of our main points of contact for the engagement from their marketing team, we’ll call her Rebecca, stayed on the line and asked, “Do I really need to be in these meetings?” Without hesitation my manager said, “Yes, absolutely!” And she was right. Rebecca oversaw all the planning, development and execution of the company’s marketing campaigns, which supported lead generation for the sales team. They’re connected, are you surprised? Of course not, but we often forget how connected sales and marketing are. The success or failure of one affects the other and so forth. These meetings were an opportunity for marketing to understand the challenges and objectives the sales team faces and how marketing can better support their counterpart in order to meet a common goal – customer acquisition. Both teams can provide each other with great data and insight, including customer feedback, market research, and sales performance metrics. This information can help both teams assess the effectiveness of their lead generation efforts, sales strategies, or marketing campaigns and make the necessary adjustments.
Embrace the nitty gritty details
While strategizing with the sales team I was able to collect insights about current prospects and customers that helped me determine the best way to structure the sequence framework and copy. By asking the nitty gritty questions I was able to understand how their team structure and processes worked, how sales reps utilized and organized snippets for their touches in Outreach, and address the hurdle around limited sales capacity to execute lead processing.
As a marketer, coming away from these discussions, I had a clearer picture of what a successful sequence strategy, framework, and the copy needed to include. Not just for their marketing campaign efforts, but to compliment the sales team’s new structure which involved a new distribution of roles and redefining team responsibilities and capacities. Without aligning with sales to understand their processes and restrictions we wouldn’t have known what was needed to create an effective strategy and process that would benefit both teams.
So, embrace getting into the nitty gritty details of your team’s processes and the tools they use. You’ll be surprised by what you discover– What gaps, bottlenecks, and inconsistencies you’ll find and also the opportunities to optimize, redefine, and align within and between teams to create more streamlined effective processes.
Are you a pathway or a roadblock?
Coming back to our client’s statement, “Do I really need to be in these meetings?” This question brought a few thoughts to mind I want you to consider when thinking about alignment between your teams. Next time you find yourself sitting in a meeting asking yourself “why am I here?” Ask yourself again with the mindset, “what can I contribute?” “How can my role and responsibilities positively impact others to help us both succeed?”
An organization may be made up of different teams but at the end of the day they all strive towards the same goals, growing their customer base and increasing revenue. Each team plays a part in reaching that end goal whether it’s continuously generating new pipeline, closing won opportunities or increasing customer renewals and building customer loyalty.
The responsibilities of marketing, sales and customer successes flow from one into the next and at times overlaps. To create a seamless transition, each team can provide each other with insights and resources to optimize strategies and processes to move the business forward.
So next time you’re developing your strategy, talking with another team member or sitting in that meeting wondering what your purpose is, ask yourself:
- “Am I a pathway or a roadblock?”
- “What can I do to help fellow teams succeed?”
- “How does my job and responsibilities affect other teams?”
Tips & Strategies to address misalignment
- Establish clear goals and objectives for both teams – Starting with defining common goals focused on revenue, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
- Foster open communication – Encourage regular communication and collaboration between department teams. Consider utilizing regular meetings, joint planning sessions, and shared communication channels.
- Define lead qualification criteria – Work together to establish clear criteria for what constitutes a qualified lead. This ensures the marketing team is generating leads the sales team can effectively convert into customers.
- Create a service-level agreement (SLA) – A formal SLA outlines the responsibilities of both teams, including lead handoff procedures, lead follow-up times, and reporting requirements. This agreement can help set clear expectations and accountability.
- Use marketing automation tools – Implement marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) systems to streamline lead tracking, scoring, and nurturing. These tools help both sales and marketing teams work more efficiently and effectively.
- Develop buyer personas – Collaborate together to create detailed buyer personas to better understand and map out your target audience. This helps marketing create more targeted content and sales have a better understanding of their prospects.
- Share data and insights – Both teams should have access to shared data and insights, including customer feedback, market research, and sales performance metrics. This data exchange allows for better-informed decision-making.
- Continuous feedback and improvement – Encourage ongoing feedback from both teams. Regularly assess the effectiveness of lead generation efforts, sales strategies, and marketing campaigns, and make necessary adjustments.
- Cross-team training and development – Promote cross-team training and development to ensure that both sales and marketing teams have a good understanding of each other’s roles, challenges, and objectives.
- Celebrate shared successes – Recognize and celebrate achievements that result from the alignment of sales and marketing efforts. This can foster a positive culture of collaboration and shared success.
- Executive support – Ensure senior leadership is aware of the importance of sales and marketing alignment and is committed to supporting the efforts to achieve it.Achieving sales and marketing alignment goes beyond individual teams—it requires organizational harmony through defined strategies, communication, and collaborative culture. The example shared underscores the need for detailed understanding, emphasizing that individual contributions play a significant role in fostering alignment between teams.
How aligned are your sales and marketing teams? Embrace the strategies and insights shared to foster greater collaboration and efficiency—could your organization benefit from implementing these steps today?