Somewhere between 2008 and today, the phrase “Aligning Sales and Marketing” went from hot topic to overused buzzword. The last year especially it’s been discussed ad nauseum: online, in print, during webinars, trade shows, executive meetings . . . the list goes on.
But as Adam Needles at Propelling Brands reports, a 2010 research study by SiriusDecisions showed less than 10% of companies are deploying the right processes and technology to actually create the type of alignment needed for high-powered B2B demand gen.
Lots of talk, very, very little action.
There’s a host of reasons for the gap, a big one being that even in spite of the talk, many companies still don’t see the value of a true Sales and Marketing alignment. But I’m discovering that even if an organization understands the need, they often have a hard time “aligning the alignment”—in other words, they know what they need to do, they just don’t know how what they’re doing (or buying) is going to get them there.
Ultimately, regardless of avenue, there’s really only 4 ways to increase sales:
1. Greater lead quantity – Expanding into new verticals and markets, approving more ad spend to drive traffic, opening up more avenues, referral and affiliate programs.
2. Greater lead quality – finding better markets, better targets, better qualified prospects, and linking ad spend to actual conversions and revenue.
3. Greater sales rep effort – phone calls, appointments set, collateral delivered, etc., linked to management tools that show how the process is actually running.
4. Greater sales rep skill – coaching, scripting, needs analysis and qualifying approaches within each step.
Whatever it is you’re investing in, it should be designed to increase, monitor, and evaluate one of those four things.
CRM is about tracking and monitoring #2 and #3, and on some qualitative levels, #4. Marketing automation is about tracking #2, some of #1, and a tiny bit about #3. Lead Management and lead nurturing systems are about #1 and #2 (you get the idea).
The worst problems in sales and marketing alignment happen when a company invests in a technology, consultation, service, or product—but it’s not even in an area that the company was really addressing. Misdirected efforts cause pain and hinder growth, because everyone is chasing after results that can’t be had. Conversely, real growth happens when process changes and metrics are based on improvements that can actually be made—and the technology investments back it up.
Each of the four elements can increase sales depending on the actual need—just don’t invest in something that isn’t designed to fix your real problem. Making more phone calls doesn’t improve lead quality; tracking and managing the things that create better quality leads does.
By the same token, “coaching up” sales skills doesn’t increase your lead pool, setting hundreds of prospect appointments doesn’t fix poor sales skills, and getting amazingly high-quality leads makes no difference if your reps only make 3 total contact attempts to reach a decision-maker before they give up.
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