In larger organizations, there are typically two distinct teams when it comes to sales and marketing. One team focuses solely on marketing while the other focuses solely on sales. Because the roles of the teams are clearly defined, it’s easy to determine who is responsible for what when it comes to certain activities. For small businesses, those “teams” might be made up of one or two people, with many small businesses even outsourcing marketing to more qualified professionals while keeping sales efforts in-house. Regardless of how your small business is set up, it’s important that sales and marketing are in alignment, working together so that efforts are integrated for the best possible outcome. If your small business is struggling with sales and marketing working together, here are a few suggestions that will help integrate sales and marketing.

Defining the sales and marketing roles

differences between sales and marketingIt’s important that each team (or individual) understands what their roles are. To do that, it might be good to start with basic definitions to help guide the conversation. What is marketing? What is sales? Here’s a basic differentiator between the two: In the simplest of terms, marketing is building awareness of your organization and brand to potential customers. Sales is turning that awareness into a sale. Another way to look at it is this: marketing speaks to many while sales has a more targeted conversation. Consider the difference in goals too. Marketing goals are to promote a product, company, or brand. The primary objective is to look at the big picture and illustrate how the product or service benefits the widest audience, generating potential leads. A sales team marks its goals based on quotas and volume goals.

Agreeing on basic terminology

definitionsEspecially true if both teams are working in a single CRM, it’s important to understand some basic terminology to know when sales picks up and when marketing leaves off. A sales qualified lead is much different than a marketing-qualified lead. The main difference between a Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead is the lead’s openness to make a purchase. Marketing Qualified Leads are curious, while Sales Qualified Leads are leads handed off to sales because they are considering a purchase.

Aligning sales and marketing efforts

sales and marketingSales and marketing alignment is all about people, processes, and systems. It’s also about how to define success for each team. What is marketing’s definition of success? While brand awareness is certainly important, the bottom line is generating qualified leads to feed the sales pipeline. How does sales define success? Revenue is the short answer, but more importantly, is sustainable revenue. Meaning it’s a qualified sale, one that will “stick” and is a good fit for both the company and the customer. Why is it important to understand each team’s goals? Because marketing isn’t about generating leads, it’s about generating qualified leads so as not to waste the time and resources of sales. For sales, it’s not about closing a deal, it’s about Effectively selling to qualified leads so as not to squander marketing’s efforts, and to ensure the sale is beneficial for the company and client.

Understanding why sales and marketing need to work together

sales and marketingWhy integrate sales and marketing? Besides the example provided above, sales can help marketing do a better job, and marketing can help sales do a better job. Communication is the key here. Sales can help marketing do a better job by communicating what it is that people are looking for in a product or service, what problems need to be solved, and what engages people to want to buy from the company. Knowing that information is invaluable to a solid and engaging marketing message. Marketing can help sales by sharing with them what kind of marketing message best resonated with leads and what finally enticed a prospect to become a qualified lead. The absence of this 2-way conversation can greatly hinder both teams’ efforts and squander value time and resources.

Encouraging integration vs. siloing information

Small businesses need both sales and marketingEffective communication is challenging when data expands across multiple platforms. Without a central resource, staff spends more time trying to understand their fragmented information than aligning around a common goal of customer acquisition. CRMs can do this, allowing the flow of information to be documented from the first inquiry of a marketing lead all the way through and beyond the sale. You can determine which marketing tactics brought in the most leads as well as the most qualified leads that resulted in a sale. That full customer journey is critical to both marketing and sales to better do their job. Provide your staff with the proper mix of data and technology. Your people can be smart and motivated, but they still need the right tools to be successful.

Give recognition to both teams

The bottom line is to bring in business, you need both sales efforts and marketing efforts, a fact often overlooked by companies of all sizes. You can’t get more sales without marketing efforts, and marketing efforts alone won’t bring in sales. Marketing tends to be more high profile since everyone can see social media efforts, billboards, commercials, ads, etc. When the deal actually closes, many people forget how they got that lead in the first place. That’s why it’s important to give credit and recognition where it’s due, to BOTH the marketing efforts and the sales efforts. Neither will be successful on their own, but together, they can effectively grow your small business revenue.

Endeavoring to integrate sales and marketing, no matter how big or small your teams are, is the best way to grow your small business. Follow these guidelines to put your teams and your small business on a path to success.

Patty Hughes
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