The single most effective way you can improve productivity and sales within your business is to align your whole organization around the customer experience.
This idea might sound like a simple and clear-cut way to operate, but it requires executive commitment, dedication from all departments and an understanding of how this approach will benefit everyone.
Let’s explore why aligning your organization around the customer experience is so important; what happens when departments are misaligned; and how alignment in this area can help businesses grow, expand and compete.
Why Alignment Is Important
1. When Your Departments Are Misaligned, You Lose Customers
Simply put, if the sales and marketing departments aren’t working together, you’re missing out on opportunities. The marketing team likely passes on leads before they are ready, leading salespeople to write them off as bad leads when they just need more time and a little nurturing.
In addition, misaligned sales and marketing functions can present different brand messages, giving prospective customers an inconsistent experience that fails to build trust. If your prospects don’t trust you, they’re not going to buy from you.
Ask yourself whether your sales and marketing teams have the same idea about what your business is and whom it serves. If the answer is “no,” you’re in trouble.
2. If Sales and Marketing Are Siloed, Whom Does the Content Work For?
Time and again, marketing teams complain that their salespeople don’t use the sales collateral created for them. Salespeople will answer they can’t find it or didn’t know it existed. Yet sales meetings are booked and presentations need to be delivered.
In a siloed organization, how do these tasks happen? More often than not, it comes down to one of two scenarios: In the first, salespeople call the marketing department and ask for them to create something — usually at the last minute. In the second, salespeople create their own materials without regard to the latest brand guidelines or data updates. On the other hand, companies with good “smarketing” practices can generate 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts.
If salespeople are creating presentations, they’re not productive. If the marketing team is constantly reacting to last-minute content requests, how can it be strategic and proactive in its content development?
Neither department has a fair deal here. The only way to break this cycle is to bring these two operations into closer alignment. This way, content is based on what the salesperson (and the customer) needs — and the entire collection is organized and analyzed in a way that supports both practical use and long-term strategy.
3. Unhappy People Are Less Productive
If marketing professionals feel that their efforts are unappreciated by salespeople, are they going to try harder to win them over? Unlikely. They might shift their efforts to other areas — building awareness campaigns, for example — or they might spend valuable hours of their day feeling stressed, complaining to colleagues about the sales team or browsing the job pages of LinkedIn.
If salespeople feel they aren’t supported by the marketing team, do you think they’ll look to it for help solving a problem? They might, or they might spend their valuable time creating resources, complaining about the poor quality of leads and how they “have to do everything around here” — or browsing the job pages of LinkedIn.
Unhappy people leave their jobs, emotionally or physically — and eventually both. Bringing these two departments onto the same page, working for the same goals, and appreciating the skills that each profession brings to the table can make a world of difference to their productivity.
3 Ways Alignment Around Customer Experience Helps a Business Grow
Aligning your sales and marketing function isn’t just about greater productivity and more sales — it’s about improved customer experience.
1. Customer Perception
A customer’s main — perhaps only — contact with a company used to be through a salesperson. These days, the first person a customer hears is often a marketing professional. Whether on social media, on your blog or in other online content, or via email, the marketing department will probably have that first touch. Given the customer could be well through the buying journey by the time he or she speaks with a salesperson, that first touch could go a long way.
Imagine, then, that after building a relationship with a brand, the customer talks to a salesperson who seems to speak in a different language. Is this salesperson part of the same brand the customer had been prepared to invest in? If not, it’s enough to put them off. Aligning the sales and marketing functions on brand identity, tone of voice and other brand elements makes the transition between departments seamless, reassuring customers that they can trust the impression they have formed.
2. Lead Qualification and Nurturing
Another area where alignment makes a big impact is in lead qualification. When sales and marketing have an agreed-upon means of lead scoring — and a process for following up on a lead — there’s no back-and-forth over whether a lead was bad, not ready or simply not followed up on. Meanwhile, the customers are being treated appropriately — nurtured where nurturing is needed or contacted if they are ready to speak to a salesperson. Most importantly, everyone treats the customers with respect and not as batons passed from one department to another.
3. Content Development and Accessibility
At this stage, the customer is still deciding on his or her purchase but has probably moved beyond the questions that an online search can easily answer. When sales and marketing departments talk to each other, marketing professionals can learn the kinds of questions that customers have at this stage of their journey. They can develop content accordingly and make it available when customers need it. Salespeople, having been involved in this process, will know that this material exists and where to find it. Everyone wins.
Stop Wasting Time. Start Making Sales
A LinkedIn article put it simply: “If you’re looking at different data sets, and are incentivized by different goals, you’re not going to win customer love.” Aligning sales and marketing functions makes both departments more productive and enables everyone — but especially the customer — to reap the benefits of a more unified organization.