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Mission Critical: Connecting Marketing and Sales

two characters putting a jigsaw together connecting marketing and sales
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Connecting marketing and sales has become mission-critical in today’s highly competitive markets. Buyers have changed their way of purchasing, and many of the old sales practices are becoming redundant, leaving sales teams struggling to perform. Connecting these two business areas is necessary not only to drive business efficiency and productivity but also to guide customers through a consistent and high-quality buying experience. Buyers are driving sales now, and marketing must engage earlier and for a longer period of time in the process for B2B companies.

Too often, we see organisations – both large and small – struggle to attain the connection.

The larger the business, the worse it gets. The challenge for many CEOs is finding a Chief Marketing Officer who will follow the lead of the sales department. A mindset and capability that has not evolved sufficiently to meet the demands of business today. CEOs not embracing this fundamental shift in their organisation are finding it a costly mistake, and few companies are getting it right.

According to the research company, Aberdeen Group, “Highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth – while less well-aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue.”

Marketing has changed, and traditional thinking and roles within the marketing team have evolved into new structures.

The once heavily weighted PR aspect of the marketing department has changed to include website search engine optimisation and social media. Most times, these actions are unmeasurable and designed to lead sales in the direction of the company strategy. They create noise for the salespeople and are the precise point of disengagement between marketing and sales. Marketing did not understand the changing pressure on sales, and sales could not realise the tangible value of marketing.

Traditional marketing actions around websites and social media are now fundamental to the list of marketing tasks. Some companies have a continued demand for public relations. Social media is questioned for its value to many business-to-business companies. The new demand for marketing and priority is now for lead demand generation. Activities and evidence of marketing directly contribute to the sales effort by generating the right mix of leads to steer the business in the direction of the company strategy. Marketing is serving sales and no longer operates in a vacuum away from accountability.

With the new business requirement for marketing being capable of serving sales with the right combination of leads, company strategy is now also exposed to its merits and flaws. A poorly developed strategy is revealed when leading the company in the wrong direction. At worst, it provides the opportunity for the competitors to take market share. Strategies must now be sufficiently clear to create plans at a granular level in the sales department, what the right mix of customers is for the coming years ahead. Who will carry the business into the future?

The business strategy must be sufficiently granular to understand what customers are and the processes required to bring the right number of customers to the business. Consequently, marketing and sales must have a clear plan that can be measured for success. The customer buying journey and buying motivations must be understood by both marketing and sales with a documented process of defining them. The report enables you to connect marketing and sales to work cohesively and keep focused on the right customers for the future.

If a company does not understand revenue goals for new customer acquisition, where to expand wallet share from existing customers, and the undermining factor of your churn rate for existing customers, then the plan will ultimately fail. Mutual sales targets and objectives must be reflected for these three business levers to succeed. Alignment is not a one-time exercise but an ongoing process continuously reviewed to the plan.

The fundamental shift to connect marketing and sales requires wholesale changes to the roles people need to fulfil. The internal capabilities of your company are ultimately deciding whether you win or lose in the marketplace.

Aside from the functions of public relations, websites, and search engine optimisation, the marketing team must possess the following skills:

  • Market Segmentation: Mapping the different market segments and understanding their buying motivations. The broad-brush approach is no longer accepted in a customer-centric organisation.
  • Persona Mapping: Documenting accurate profiles of different buyer types or decision-makers to communicate ‘on message’ communications to them, creating a superior experience for buyers.
  • Content Marketing: Developing an extensive collection of marketing assets that are capable of delivering the right messages based on persona mapping.
  • Campaign Management: The creation and execution of effective marketing campaigns to reach the right prospects embracing marketing automation as a pivotal tool in nurturing prospects to a level that they will reach out to engage with sales.
  • Contact Data: Managing large volumes of accurate and segmented prospect and customer data to reach the right decision-makers at the right time.

They need to understand their function is to generate quality leads for sales. To achieve that, you require their skills to be highly specialised and a departure from the traditional skill set of the marketing department hires. The digital specialists are often deemed to be capable, but a careful review of their qualifications and capabilities will uncover flaws that undermine the deliverables being achieved. With the importance of the marketing department generating leads, the skills required are now supported by several highly trained specialists delivering more than a single digital generalist.

The changes for sales continue to carry similar demands we have seen evolving over the past five to seven years.

A move away from legacy management regimes to a planned and measured sales department. The chief sales officer enables the sales organisation with the following capabilities:

  • Coverage Model: Challenging past models and deploying sales resources to best cover the target market with a view of the coming one to three years.
  • Territories: No longer defined just by geography but by the sophistication of the buyers, the complexity of their buying process and business understanding for higher-level decision-makers.
  • Sales Methodology: Alignment of the selling method to one that reflects how the buyer wants or prefers to be sold. A selling method that is mandated to all team members provides leverage for increasing productivity and effectiveness.
  • Sales Process: A proven and trained sales process providing an efficient and effective process to manage leads seamlessly from marketing to sales and engage and convert buyers into customers.
  • Sales Enablement: Developing the right sales tools to educate the sales team on messages and provision of technology to efficiently win business. The sales department defining the developing the messaging from field experience for marketing to align to personas. The sales department becomes reliant on the marketing department to assist in educating and guiding salespeople to have the right conversations and the right time in the buying process.

For many companies, the intention may be clear, but the reality is nothing is achieved. Only when these two business units are operating efficiently in their own right can the alignment of marketing and sales begin to occur. The reality may require a restructuring of the marketing department and a change in the company’s cultural thinking of marketing and sales. The point of all the changes is an increase in the performance of the organisation and a significant impact on revenues and profitability.

If you are planning to connect marketing and sales, please contact the office to discuss how we can assist you.

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About the Author: Adele Crane

A leader in Implementation Consulting.
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele’s experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.