Sales and marketing alignment is a hot topic these days. If you scan the web, you will see tons of articles, and actions suggested to improve sales and marketing alignment. Many of the articles are quite good and offer solid advice. The one thing pre-supposed is that both parties are committed to doing exactly that. Or they require executive sponsorship for those changes. Due to this, they may be difficult to actually drive alignment. Especially true if you are an individual contributor.
In the end, only one side shows interest, or potentially marketing possesses no credibility on the topic. Here I offer 5 tips that you, as a marketer, can do now to improve alignment. They focus on one thing, seeing things from a sales perspective. These require no executive sponsorship, big meetings or programs. Just simple tips to help you get their frame of reference.
Go on sales calls
You probably think you go on sales calls, but do you really? I am not talking CVCs or supporting a big strategic deal, but the everyday sales call. Chances are you don’t really do that. Take the time out of your busy schedule and go on a regular sales call. This might be a local visit, or maybe sitting in on a few prospecting calls. This concept will definitely open your eyes to what a sales rep really does, and consequently help sales / marketing alignment .
Watch your sales team work
Now that you have attended a few sales calls, sit back and watch what sales work when they aren’t dealing with a customer. Where do they work? What do they do? What systems do they use? How much time are they selling versus dealing with administrative work? Sit in on an opportunity review, a pipeline review, any reviews they have. Finally, create a report of this to share with the sales team and your management. Codifying these learnings will help your organization mature. If you haven’t done any of these, you will be quite surprised as to what the real issue’s sales faces on a daily basis.
Run some market research on sales and marketing alignment
We often think of market research as talking to our customers. What about doing market research on your internal customer? Run some focus groups, execute a survey. Do in-depth interviews with a few reps. Ask about what works, what doesn’t work, where they see challenges and what they would like marketing to do. Then ask about content types, and the value they see in them. In addition, Query them on lead scoring and quality. Most of all, realize no topic should be off the table.
I have found that sales is often quite eager to give their opinion on things. Granted, getting anyone to respond to a survey is tough these days, but it can be done (think gift cards!). After you do this, create a report from it. And share it around. Executives love to see these sorts of reports. They rarely ask for them, but they truly do like seeing what people are really doing. With that said, they may freak out a bit when they see how much time they spend on administrative activities. I have been yelled at an executive multiple times for pointing this out. But this sort of awareness helps drive action.
One more tip, oftentimes marketers mistake feedback from sales management for feedback from sales. This simply isn’t the case. Management has a distinctly different perspective than the average rep.
How will sales use this?
Whenever you create a sales focused asset, ask yourself “what will sales do with this?” If you don’t know, or can’t say for sure, maybe spend time on something you know they will use. If you don’t know and still feel the need to create it, use market research to find out.
Get rid of content
Everything has a cost and content is no exception. Sales reps spend an inordinate amount of time looking for content (31% of a rep’s time is spent searching or creating content). Yes, sales enablement can help with that (see here, here and here for my thoughts). Therefore, the more content you have, the more time it takes to sort through that content.
As marketers, we are trained to produce more, more, more, more. We rarely get rid of the old. And you need to do exactly this. Go on a content pruning binge. Check to see what content is being used. And if no one uses the content, get rid of it. My guess is that 20% of your content is accounting for 80% of your sales reps needs. Consequently, this reduced clutter of content will help improve sales and marketing alignment.