Schedule more meetings? Have salespeople spend more time talking to colleagues instead of customers? It goes against conventional business wisdom, but a new survey of B2B marketers shows that meeting more frequently might actually solve the sales-marketing divide.
We polled more than 300 B2B marketers across the United States over a four-day period in November 2015. We were surprised when 70 percent said they want to meet with their sales teams “more frequently,” to review and discuss strategy. The overwhelming majority of those who responded -- 89 percent -- said that frequent meetings were effective in improving marketing outcomes.
Additional research backs up what we found. According to a report from Hubspot, companies with a strong alignment between their sales and marketing teams reported experiencing a 20 percent increase in annual revenue compared to those with poor alignment; the latter group, in fact, showed a 4 percent decrease in revenue.
So, it seems that both sales and marketing teams need to step outside their siloes and come together to improve outcomes.
Based on these data, it’s clear that more alignment between sales and marketing is needed, and that meetings can help. But, all meetings aren’t created equal. Here are five ways for sales and marketing to align in order to work better toward the same goals.
1. Meet regularly.
More than 70 percent of the marketers we surveyed said they wanted to meet with their sales teams more frequently, but over 20 percent said there was no regular opportunity to touch base with their sales colleagues.
A regularly scheduled, mandatory meeting eliminates all doubt and becomes part of the normal work week. Make sure these meetings are not only on the schedule but are also effective and have closure by checking for alignment results and agreement about next steps. Reflect (privately) on what was accomplished, and check for acknowledgements, so you can give credit.
2. Meet frequently.
A weekly get-together or dial-in is an ideal way to institutionalize regular communications across teams. A face-to-face meeting is best: 89 percent of the marketers we surveyed said that regular face time with sales would be effective for aligning goals. And that makes sense, given the fact that studies show 93 percent of effective communications is nonverbal. Meeting in person also builds trust, understanding and a sense of shared mission. But, no matter how you do it, the frequency of contact is the key here.
3. Meet briefly.
Any good salesperson wants to be on the phone closing deals, so don’t waste time with a preamble or process." In my experience, marketers are easily caught up in their own PowerPoint presentations -- focusing on abstract ideas or theory, and losing the attention of sales colleagues. Instead, employ whatever tactics help keep everyone focused and brief. Get creative if that's needed: One executive I read about employs a Twitter-like hack to get meeting attendants to focus, asking everyone to sum up the issue at hand in five words or less.
4. Offer something actionable.
If you’re going to drive alignment through regular contact, that contact needs to include clear and actionable information, or some insights that a sales professional can use on his next five calls or next three customer meetings. Also, from time to time, seek feedback on the meetings themselves, to keep improving on how to best spend the time together.
5. Focus on lead quality.
To get buy-in from sales, you must lead with leads. Lead quality topped the list of concerns of marketers in our survey, and I’m convinced that meetings are wasted if you are not speaking the same language around this perennial source of frustration and disagreement between sales and marketing. In fact, getting in sync around what makes a true sales-qualified lead is critical for any sales-driven organization.
Believe it or not, many companies actually skip this step when outlining their go-to-market strategy, with the result that marketing and sales remain non-aligned at the most basic level. Once a common definition is agreed upon, you are bound to close more deals and win more business.
Even if sales and marketing have different priorities and different personalities, they share a common goal: to increase revenue. For any business, you want to ensure that both halves of the funnel are aligned and aware of each other’s goals. For B2B marketers looking to improve marketing outcomes and drive better results from the top of the funnel down, any effort has to start with sales alignment.