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Bridging the gap: How marketing and sales can break down the technological walls between their departments

30 seconds summary:

  • Sales and marketing functions often feel like “frenemies” – they blame each other for when things don’t go according to plan and underestimate each other’s contributions.
  • Disputes between the two departments often revolve around one important issue: unqualified leads.
  • When each team does its own thing with incompatible tools and executes disjointed strategies, the operational gaps widen and the business malfunctions.
  • Technologies like Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) can help bridge operations and improve alignment.

From an outside perspective, many would assume that sales and marketing departments go hand in hand and that they have common visions and goals. This is often the case in the most successful B2B organizations.

However, to others, sales and marketing functions often feel like “frenemies” – they blame each other for when things don’t go according to plan and generally underestimate each other’s contributions.

In the midst of the pandemic, their working relationship has taken on new meaning as the personal aspect of the sales process has largely been replaced by video calling. Marketing must now provide better support in qualifying and nurturing leads and can be the difference between an effective sales process and a failed sales process.

At the same time, sales must recognize that marketing teams now have fewer tactics available, removing the need for traditional elements of the marketing mix such as face-to-face events as the move to digital.

Ultimately, sales and marketing should work towards the same goal: securing business and supporting business growth. However, silos between the two departments often prevent them from doing this effectively, and this misalignment ultimately hurts business performance.

In this article, I’m going to look at the root cause of the separation between functions and how technology can help resolve this problem by creating synergies between these revenue-driven operational teams.

Unqualified leads

Disputes between the two departments often revolve around one important issue: unqualified leads. Too often, sales accuse marketing of sharing unqualified leads that aren’t strategic, and oblige sales to use lengthy conversations over the course of the quarter to figure out why each lead is relevant.

As the B2B industry moves more and more towards an account-based marketing model (ABM), the lack of qualified leads is becoming an increasing problem for sales.

Leads need to be qualified in the sense that marketers, sales reps, and account managers think these leads are worth following and that they have a high chance of conversion.

This helps sellers avoid wasting time. Plus, they are already often stereotyped as inconsiderate in their approach, trying to sell products to people who are clearly not interested or who are targeting the right audience.

Working with qualified leads would help change that perception and allow sales teams to have important conversations with prospects so they can provide the right services and close deals faster.

Sales and marketing teams need to work together to achieve a mutual understanding of leadership skills and then make sure they are aligned with the tools that will make them a reality.

Use of technology

When each team does its own thing with incompatible tools and executes disjointed strategies, the operational gaps widen and the business malfunctions.

This is where the use of technology comes into play.

Many companies are likely already using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and marketing automation to speed up outbound and inbound efforts, but few are likely to use Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs). These are changing the mechanics of sales and marketing dramatically.

SEPs are not intended to replace CRMs and marketing automation software. Instead, they are designed to bridge operations and improve alignment.

SEPs can be seamlessly integrated with existing tools to automate the data collection, analysis, and output required to move leads through the pipeline and ensure everything is at the right pace. This saves marketing time and allows the sales team to tune in to their real talent – converting leads into cash.

Share customer data

Without using a SEP, the only way to move customer data from one team to another is to manually retrieve it, share it, and then manually re-enter it. This takes a lot of time and leaves a lot of room for errors that are inefficient and unsafe.

This creates a disruption, which means that data is trapped in various tools that are not communicating properly. SEPs break down these barriers between departments, connect tools and enable the necessary parties to access the data they need.

With all the data in one place, organizations can use analytics and A / B testing tools to tailor the best news to the needs of each industry and then share the results with those within the organization. This in turn enables a more targeted, account-based approach with clear, personalized messages for each account.

Adequate lead response

When a prospect shows interest, they’ll expect a response from sales or marketing almost immediately. Any delay can stall a sale, and traditional processes don’t allow for quick responses or a quick transition between marketing and sales.

A SEP ensures that the right employee is notified at the right time to contact management. They can also personalize the first few emails based on the data they have collected. This will set up triggers that put prospects in the correct automated order based on their activity.

This ensures that there is no delay between interest and contact, which enables a smooth buyer journey.

Perfectly timed messaging

The timing of your message and your touchpoints is vital throughout the customer journey because you want the prospect to get the response when they see it.

Machine learning, an integral part of SEPs, can be used to streamline this and enables companies to send perfectly timed, personalized messages and sequences.

An example is when employees receive an out-of-office reply: machine learning can be used to process this and schedule a personalized email for the second they come back. This way the salesperson can better manage their time and handle each lead in the most efficient way possible.

The best sales and marketing departments act like the winning team in an F1 race: perfectly coordinated, perfectly coordinated and everyone knows their roles. However, this can only happen if they have all the necessary components: the sales rep as the driver, the marketing team working at the speed of light as the pit and engineering team, and the SEP as the engine.

Tom Castley, Vice President of Sales at Outreach UK, heads the London office and has 20 years of experience supporting sales organizations in the European technology space.

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