Marketing Alignment – The Second Step to “Maximizing” Sales Revenue

Are you interested in Maximizing Your Sales Revenue? …If you are, the first thing to do is “optimize the sales force” (discussed in my previous BLOG). The second thing you need to do is create “alignment” between sales, marketing and customer service.

Creating alignment is the hardest part of the process of maximizing your sales revenue. It requires that you actually change the culture of your organization. You need to take three disparate organizations and align them into one.

The sales and marketing organizations of most companies have been at odds with each other for years. They have lots of approaches, squabbles and stories about how what they do is not appreciated by the other side. At the end of the day it boils down to “the leads we get from marketing suck” and “they never follow up on the leads we give them”

The main reason for this disconnect is that each organization has a different objective and definition of a lead. Marketing is interested in influencing the buying decision and sales is interested in turning the buying prospect into sales revenue (i.e. a customer).

Having worked in and managed both sides of the argument, I get it. And I can confirm that I have found proof of both arguments over the years. But the times they are a changing…..

Probably the biggest thing driving this change is the internet along with some forms of social media. These elements have allowed the prospect to do a lot more investigating of solutions before ever contacting the sales force for a meeting or just to get a quote.  This process has been described aptly by Christine Crandell as the “Buyer’s Journey”.  http://christinecrandell.com/

If a prospect calls or writes that they are interested in your product or service and would like a price quote, you will have no time to sell unless the marketing process has done a lot of pre-selling with programs and in which case you would already have the lead.

There are three key elements to alignment. That may make the process sound easy, but it is not. It is hard and takes work and commitment from all involved. These elements include:

  • A clearly defined strategy and message
  • A newly defined process of helping the buyer
  • A new definition of success and measuring it

Clearly Defined Strategy and Message:

Without the assistance and participation of the senior executives you will never get your company aligned. The senior executives need to clearly define the strategic objectives of the corporation and everyone in the organization must demonstrate that they clearly understand the strategy. I have found that more times than not, most people have a vague understanding, but many differ in the definition. The strategy is usually defined after the senior executives have a few work sessions where they clearly articulate the strategy in writing and then disseminate it company wide.

From that strategy, the sales and marketing organizations (together) can begin to craft the message to the marketplace. The message relies on agreement by all parties on their definition of the buyer’s process, an agreement on an “ideal customer” profile and a very clear definition and understanding of what is a “qualified lead”. Once you are in agreement on these elements, you can construct a model of the buyer’s process and determine how your marketing and sales process blends with it.

A New Sales Process Aligned to the Buyer’s Process

Many ‘aligned” organizations originally established a team approach to getting to agreement on these elements above. The team included members from the sales organization, the marketing team, often a customer service rep and a senior executive. The senior executive may be the sales manager or the marketing manager or both, but they must come to this leadership post committed to rewriting the process.

The sales organization needs to take marketing members along on sales calls. Sales team members must be brought into the marketing strategy and research sessions. The team members must also be the ones to carry the new messages to the entire (now transparent) organization.

As team members begin to understand each other’s area of focus and how it contributes, they can fairly easily craft a revenue funnel or process to capture the buyer’s attention up front when the buyer is looking but not talking. The message is distributed in the marketing literature, the PR campaigns, and the corporate web site and to some extent through social media arenas; although very few companies have learned how to use social media effectively.

The process definition needs to have a clear understanding of the point at which a suspect becomes a lead and then becomes a prospect. Often leads are passed to quickly and the resultant effect is that the sales organization feels that the leads are not valuable.

Prospects may change direction as well and when they do, it is imperative that they get handed back to the marketing process for continued nurturing.

New Definition of Success and Measuring It:

Finally, the entire organization needs to have a clear understanding of what constitutes success. Usually it is most clearly defined as winning a new customer or selling a new product or service to an existing customer. Because all parties worked the new process to generate this success, they need to be compensated for their efforts.

If marketing is going to be charged with bringing more profitable leads to the table, they need to be compensated in some way so that they share in the success. This means the compensation (often commission) model for generating sales revenue needs to be rewoven to include a share of the pay. This redesigned compensation plan will only work if the sales and marketing teams are fully aligned and agree that they all have contributed to the success.

In conclusion, if you can master these three key elements, you will be well on your way to “maximizing sales revenue”.  In my next post I will discuss the “Third Key” of this process which is “Customer Intimacy”.

Please stay tuned.

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