Sales Integration 101 – How To Achieve Sales Marketing Alignment

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You have every expectation that your business will be a winner. You’re confident you’ve got all the right ingredients. You’ve aced the technology and you’ve put together a crack team. But somehow, things don’t seem to have gelled. Meaning – you’re not getting the influx of conversions you expected to see based on your carefully researched and refined list of leads. Time to familiarize yourself with the secret sauce: sales integration.

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Buck Tradition

Traditionally, sales and marketing teams were assigned to work opposite ends of the sales funnel. One dealt with leads, the other with paying customers – and that’s where they stayed. That left a big gap in between – and plenty of empty space where promising leads can get lost. The businesses that thrive today are the ones that have found ways to bridge that gap by implementing an integrated sales framework.

Your sales and marketing teams may be working at opposite ends – but they’re pulling in the same direction. Setting up your business in such a way that they can communicate and share information can help them work more effectively – and optimize the smoothness and effectiveness of your operation overall. Ultimately, it can result in better lead generation and higher conversion rates. And that’s what you want!

The Secret Sauce

The key ingredient: collaboration. Marketing and sales teams can’t function effectively when, in many respects, they’re working in the dark. Sales integration makes it possible for them to work together to generate brand awareness, target a particular product or service to a specific audience, then convert that target audience into paying customers.

In the traditional sales/marketing model, marketing departments tended to work independently on lead generation. Those leads were passed on to the sales team – also working independently – to close the deal and formalize the transaction.

In an integrated work environment, team members in both departments can be involved – directly or indirectly - in every phase of the buyer’s journey through the sales funnel.

Team Effort

Getting your customer across the finish line in the sales funnel is everyone’s #1 priority. The process of getting them there can be a challenge, no question. But that process can be made simpler and more effective – not to mention, more customer-friendly – when members of both the sales and marketing teams are able to access and make full use of product and prospect information.

The Integration Advantage

Think of it this way.

Marketing team members make a promise about a product, and sales team members (ideally) deliver on it.  For example, if a 50% off promotion is offered for phone orders on a specific date, customers will expect the sales team to process their orders and follow through on that date.

But fulfillment success depends on members of both teams being on the same page. If the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, confusion and customer frustration are bound to ensue.

In a non-integrated environment, the marketing team may have whipped up customer interest in a particular product  - but the sales team may not know why. They may put potential buyers on hold, or otherwise delay the process while they seek more information.

But if sales team members are integrated into marketing strategies from the get-go, counter-productive confusion can be averted. In a nutshell: the information gathered by one department can and should be used to complement the efforts of the other.

What can integration do for your business?

Build a Better Pipeline

It’s a no-brainer: integration contributes to better sales enablement, and makes for better overall pipeline management. When marketing and sales teams work collaboratively to optimize pipeline flow, red flags can be easier to spot. Your marketing team can identify gaps in product and audience research, while your sales team can address those gaps through outreach. Consistent crossover communication means you can deal with problems before they become major issues.

Enhance Customer Experience

It’s a simple formula: when you optimize your marketing and sales functions, you optimize your buyer’s overall experience. Happy, satisfied customers become loyal customers – and that’s reflected in your bottom line.

For example, blogs and knowledge base sections serve as great marketing content assets that help draw qualified leads from Google, and other referral sources. This also doubles up as effective post-sales content assets for call deflection. Your sales and marketing teams will need to work together to produce content that can effectively serve both teams.

Optimize resources

Integration allows you to make the best possible use of data shared between sales and marketing teams. For example, your contact center team can do more than just offer post-sales support: it can also be used to capture real-time leads from marketing campaigns. You can repurpose social media content into blog posts and vice versa that can bring leads as well as serve as sales assets.

Create a More Effective Lead Process

When members from both sales and marketing departments are involved in all areas of the design and negotiation processes, they’re better able to understand exactly how leads are handled before and after they’re received. And that puts them in a better position to offer suggestions and feedback about targeted customers as they work their way through the sales funnel.

Be More Inclusive

The integrative approach allows for the inclusion of team members from both the sales and marketing departments in important planning and strategizing sessions. It provides both teams with a broader network of resources to work with, and more personnel to call on for ideas and feedback.

It can also give team members the necessary confidence to speak up and offer useful feedback – which makes for a more productive and positive work environment.

Provide Communication Clarity

Bye-bye siloing! Integration of sales and marketing teams minimizes the potential for doubt or uncertainty about what’s going on in other departments – and the inefficiencies that can result. Independence is fine when it comes to performing assigned tasks, but at some point it can become counterproductive if it’s not contributing to the collaborative process

Integration generates more open conversation and more sharing of information – which clarifies the strategies and goals of each team to the other, and consolidates their collaborative efforts.

Fill the Gaps

Effective integration generates a synergy that’s really not possible in traditional marketing models. For example, your call center reps – because they’re in regular contact with customers - may be able to pinpoint gaps in ad messaging that the marketing team isn’t aware of. On the other hand, marketing teams may be able to offer sales teams useful information or strategies that can help close the deal. An active feedback loop not only results in better customer service: it also strengthens key working relationships within the company.

Get in Sync

There’s no reason that creatives can’t live in both the sales and marketing wheelhouses. Designated members from both teams should be able to work in sync to repurpose social media content for both marketing and sales functions. Working collaboratively, they can optimize your social media workflow to serve as both a marketing and sales tool.

Of course, successful integration can’t be accomplished overnight. It requires research, planning, commitment, and consistent evaluation. To expedite the process:

  • Foster an inclusive, collaborative environment
  • Assemble a team that can commit
  • Align goals by setting milestones
  • Share data to ensure both teams stay current on your strategy’s effectiveness
  • Use a consistent, standardized process to move leads from marketing to sales
  • Maintain an open feedback loop
  • Stay on track with consistent messaging to ensure a well-managed buyer journey

Integration is a smart move for both you and your customers. It benefits your customers by providing a better buyer journey - and when you enhance your customer’s experience, you’re bound to boost your bottom line.

So get in that sales kitchen, start cooking - and don’t forget the sauce!