Asking "Do I need to work on my marketing or sales?" is like asking "Do I need offense or defense?" It doesn't matter which sport you choose, any fan will tell you that they're interdependent and you need more context to answer the question.
In this blog post, we'll guide you through the relationship between marketing and sales and explain how you can determine which you're more in need of.
The Game Plan: A basic agreement between your defense and your offense... Or Your sales & Marketing
The Marketing team plans and executes a campaign with the purpose of identifying potential active buyers (aka lead generation). Sales professionals work with these potential active buyers, helping them through the buyer's journey. Each team on its own is incomplete and needs the help of its counterpart to first identify a potential active buyer and then help her become a customer.
Getting these teams on the same page and removing any barriers to their cooperation is one of the main goals of revenue operations. When done well you’ll see more efficient business operations and shorter average sales cycle lengths. Closing the gaps in your revenue operations strategy will help you get there.
Win from Within... Until You're Not Winning
It's all fun and games until sales are down. Then, the two teams are quick to blame each other for the poor performance. According to this Harvard Business Review article, each team gets entrenched in its own view:
"Sales-marketing tension can also stem from the co-dependence of the sales and marketing teams. Especially when things don’t go well, situations can quickly turn to finger-pointing. Marketing says 'We worked hard and generated good leads for sales, but they didn’t follow up.' Sales says, 'Marketing’s leads aren’t worth my time; the last lead they gave us was for a business that shut down two years ago.'"
What's worse is that it's possible for both teams to be correct and thus, be completely confident in their blaming of the other. Business leaders will need to take action to ensure that sales numbers begin to increase again. More than that, they will need to devise strategies to increase cooperation between sales and marketing, as well as overall morale.
Establish a line of Information sharing and interdependence
The best way to overcome this problem is to transparently share information across departments and get both teams to understand their dependence on each other.
The first pitfall often seen in any organization is the lack of a game plan, more frequently known as a service level agreement or SLA.
It's extremely important that your entire organization has a basic agreement between Sales and Marketing. The most basic SLA goes something like this: Marketing promises to deliver X number of leads and Sales promises to use a defined and deliberate sales process with every one; at the end of every week (or month) Sales will report to Marketing the progress on each of these leads, completing the reporting loop.
This Forbes article explains how this brings the teams closer together and makes them more understanding of the challenges at hand:
"This allows the marketing team to understand the challenges and needs of the sales team and have those needs communicated in a way that the marketing team can help alleviate them. They’ve also established set times for reporting and discussing the current status of both the marketing activities and the sales activities."
This is typically the resolution for poor performance.
Reading the Defense
Let's get back to the initial question and see if there are ways to tell if a specific team is at fault.
Signs You Need More From Your Marketing Team
A Marketing team is responsible for establishing a brand, creating content, and generating leads. Their role is to create personalized buying experiences by reaching out to the right people with the right content. This sets the sales team up for success.
Here are a few reasons why marketing may be the problem:
- Prospects have not heard of your brand
- Sales has a low number of leads to work
- Sales is working unqualified leads
If your sales representatives have no leads to work with, then you have to look at your marketing campaign. It's possible that they're targeting the wrong users or simply falling behind on their schedule.
Additionally, if your sales team is struggling to close leads, this may be a reason to look to your Marketing team as well. In our post-internet world, buyers do their research before making a purchase. It's extremely important to have all of the information a buyer needs to make a decision readily and easily available online.
The marketing team should be taking advantage of digital technology like marketing automation to better support the sales team. Online content should be customer-focused, using buyer persona data and position in the buyer's journey as a guide.
Signs You Need More From Your Sales Team
On the other hand, if the marketing team is generating ample leads, but the sales representatives aren't using a defined and deliberate sales process to nurture those leads, then it's a clear sign that there is a problem in the Sales department. Modern selling requires effective lead nurturing from your sales team.
A deliberate sales process, such as inbound sales, will help you diagnose and correct problems in the sales department. You’ll be able to identify any gaps and get more accurate sales forecasts.
Here are a few reasons why sales may be the problem:
- Your close ratios are low.
- Your close ratios are high, but margin is low.
Signs You Need Better Alignment
What if the marketing team is generating lots of leads and the sales representatives are working the sales process, but revenue is still lagging?
The first place to look in this situation is Marketing/Sales alignment. Here are some questions to ask:
- Is there congruity between messaging from Marketing and from Sales?
- Do the leads that are coming from Marketing meet our ideal buyer profile?
- Are we accurately identifying qualifying factors in a good lead?
- Is Marketing sending valuable contextual information (like site re-visits and inbound offer redemptions) to Sales and is Sales using that information effectively?
Signs You Need More From Your Customer Success Team
Perhaps you've found that marketing and sales are working well together, but revenue and margins aren't where you want them to be.
What could the problem be? Customer service?
You may need to evaluate your customer success team if:
- Customer churn is high.
- Tickets/complaints are high.
Customer support teams are responsible for the happiness and success of your customers. Low retention or high ticket volume are clear signs of customer unhappiness.
Your marketing team should be working with customer success to create a plan that will create an all-around better customer experience, turning your customers’ experiences into case studies and long-term success stories.
How Is Revenue Operations Different from Cross Functional Teams or Sales and Marketing Alignment?
Within a company, Revenue Operations (also known as RevOps) is a strategic approach that centralizes sales, marketing, and customer service operations to provide a consistent experience across the entire customer journey.
It’s a form of business transformation that creates a more holistic way of running your organization and reaching ambitious revenue goals. B2B businesses have been particularly drawn to RevOps, though it is absolutely applicable to B2C customers and businesses as well.
This may sound familiar. You may be wondering what the difference is between sales and marketing alignment and revenue operations.
In most organizations, sales, marketing and customer service each operate in departmental silos. They come together in the evaluation phase to ensure they are in alignment, but overall they use separate business systems within your organization.
In a revenue operations model, these three operate in unison from the planning phase, allowing you to be more efficient and scale with momentum. Acting as a single team, they ensure a seamless customer experience that in turn helps you reach your company goals.
Business growth is at the heart of RevOps, relying on accurate revenue forecasting and revenue operations analytics done over time.
Want to explore more RevOps content? Start over or explore more fixes to your revenue operations.
Jake Fisher, is President and Co-Founder of BridgeRev. He helps our clients with their revenue and growth goals by providing better strategies, better processes, and better technology. He also makes videos and written content to help entrepreneurs, business owners, and managers achieve their own revenue goals. And, he talks to business and industry leaders at conferences and association events.