Why Marketing-Sales Collaboration is More Important Than Ever

In many small- and medium-sized businesses, the line between marketing and sales departments is often blurred. Employees may find themselves juggling multiple “hats,” speaking into larger marketing approaches while also interacting one-on-one with customers in a sales capacity; as a result, the responsibilities and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each function overlap.

While this overlap was born from a scrappy willingness to jump in and show initiative, we are now operating in a new business climate. In-person sales efforts are no longer the sole means of winning business and marketing’s unique capabilities need to be leveraged in new ways.

Marketing and sales collaboration across the entire customer journey is going to be more important than ever if businesses expect to continue to grow revenue in this “next normal.”

Deliver a consistent message.

Marketing and sales teams exist for the same purpose: to win more business. However, these groups are often not speaking the same language to customers in order to make that happen. Sales reps have spent years honing their unique pitch, and with good reason; they have found what works, and they stick to it. Marketing teams, however, are rarely privy to these pitches.

The result? Marketing messages – often a customer’s first exposure to the brand – that do not match the messages the customer hears later in their journey.

When the foundation of customer relationship depends on fostering knowledge, likeability, and trust, an inconsistent message is dangerous to business. Hearing one thing from marketing and another from sales can quickly diminish faith in your brand. To remedy this, marketing and sales teams must align on their go-to-market language. A value-driven, end-to-end messaging framework should be developed and used by all in order to direct the strategies, channels, and tactics implemented by both teams across the customer journey.

Leverage digital platforms for deep customer insights.

Digital transformation has been on many businesses’ “to-do” lists for years, but it is no longer optional. The coronavirus pandemic created a cultural shift wherein safety and distance are the prevailing concerns; reps can no longer simply show up to call on new businesses and expect to have access to customers. Customers want “touch-light” engagements, and the organizations that succeed in the coming years will be those that deliver this experience, digitizing everything from initial contact to fulfillment to customer service and advocacy.

Fortunately, going digital is no longer reserved for enterprise businesses with large budgets. There is a variety of powerful, low-cost digital tools available to small and medium sized organizations to modernize the way they do business.

Many of these tools support the early stages of the customer journey – those that marketing is responsible for (see the customer journey graphic above). From social media to automated email nurture and personalized, trigger-based delivery, marketing departments now have the power to tap into deep insights on customer profiles, preferences, and behavior.

These insights equip sales reps to better understand their prospects, leading to more effective sales conversations and more business, but only if the two teams are lock-step on what the criteria is and how it is shared between them.

Cultivate prospect and customer relationships.

Customers may be expecting a “touch-light” engagement, but that does not negate the need for consistent, genuine relationship-building throughout the sales cycle. Without the luxury of in-person sales rapport, marketing teams have the potential to fill that gap by delivering already-warm, qualified leads to sales.

By meeting prospects on the digital channels where they already spend time, they can be engaged earlier than ever before: just as they begin to identify their business problem that needs solving. Marketing can then automate the “heavy lifting” usually reserved for sales teams: educating prospects on your value drivers and differentiators and positioning your brand as the solution provider they need. By the time a sales conversation takes place, prospects are already well aware of what sets you apart.

These capabilities extend beyond just prospects. Marketing and sales should also be collaborating on customer-focused activities in order to increase retention, drive account penetration, and cultivate the loyalty that turns customers into advocates.

Traditionally, marketing and sales have either butted heads or been one-in-the-same. In the “next normal” we find ourselves in, neither is likely to be sustainable.

For organizations aiming to increase market share and grow revenue, collaboration and clear responsibilities for each of these disciplines will prove to be more important than ever. By going to market with a consistent message, tapping into the power of digital tools, and prioritizing customer experience and relationship, both teams can do what they do best, all while working toward the shared goal of sustained success in your business.