There is nothing quite like watching a long and challenging project coming to successful fruition. For those who have big goals, they wish to accomplish in their life, achieving those goals doesn’t happen as the result of completing a singular action or task. Rather, goal achievement is the result of successive hours of hard work and multiple moving parts coming together.
Think of how a sports team — in this case, the “underdog” — defies the odds with the spirit and talent necessary to win a championship game, emerging victorious. Some players have a greater impact on the outcome than others, but overall the entire group is working towards a common goal, and people will never shake off their enjoyment of watching different people come together to achieve success.
Sports allegories aside, behind every successful business, are its people. For better or worse, all of the people working for a business want the same thing — more revenue. It’s a commonly shared perception that sales and marketing are related to one another and yet they are often isolated.
The traditional thought process being that marketers are only responsible for getting the leads, and salespeople need to focus on closing.
However, our world is rapidly changing and digital technology has had an irreversible effect on daily work life. The “lines” dividing sales and marketing have now been blurred, and at many companies, they are in fact coming together. The need for sales and marketing teams to combine their efforts is only growing, and companies that fail to do so in the coming years will most likely falter to their competition.
If there is one concept that sales and marketing professionals can unite under a single banner to make the quickest impact to help their business, it is in how they tell their brand story. Learn why better alignment between sales and marketing is crucial to future success, and get my take below on how they can collaborate to have a true impact on business growth when they improve their storytelling.
The Case for Better Alignment
When large groups of people unite to achieve something as a well-oiled machine, witnessing such a thing can be quite spectacular. Sales and marketing teams can come together to do great things, but alignment is easier said than done.
Here are several interesting pieces of data from a study Marketo did about the sales and marketing alignment practices of 500 companies:
- 209% stronger contribution to revenue from marketing-generated leads
- 67% higher probability that marketing-generated leads will close (wow!)
- 108% less friction
Of these findings, the increased likelihood of a lead becoming a sale should be something to grab anyone’s attention. Or consider a survey LinkedIn performed more recently, involving 3,500 sales professionals and 3,500 marketers. 70% of respondents said sales and marketing collaboration delivers a better buying experience for the customer.
More and more companies are going all in on the idea of sales and marketing alignment. What some don’t realize is that one of the best ways to unite sales and marketing teams is through better storytelling.
The Importance of Storytelling
The rise of the Internet and mobile technology means that buyers and customers are in control to some extent. The content they enjoy is custom-tailored to their liking, and they engage in online communities which trigger their particular interests. Mobile devices have also made it possible to summon a whole world of information in an instant.
To reach customers and prospects, brands need to break through the noise created by the digital landscape while also being more customer-centric. Storytelling is an extremely effective tool from a marketing perspective because it not only communicates products and services, it has the power to connect brands to customers at a deeper, more emotional level when done correctly. It is ultimately what defines the types of conversations you are having with your customers.
When it comes to sales and marketing alignment, both teams need to share a single vision of the conversations they are having with customers. By striving to tell the same story, prospects have a better chance of becoming customers.
How Sales & Marketing Teams Can Use Storytelling
The first place to start when attempting to unite sales and marketing teams is by having honest, collaborative discussions where salespeople and marketers talk about how they can agree on finding their singular vision. From there, there a couple of different ways both teams can begin implementing their mission become better aligned.
The Symbiotic Relationship Behind Sales Enablement
Despite how important it is for marketers to understand their target audience, the fact is that they aren’t the ones talking to customers and leads day in and day out. Salespeople are ultimately required to build relationships with customers by having those regular conversations — their job is to know how to talk to buyers.
Sales teams are focused mostly on talking to customers, but there will always be the potential improve the quality of their conversations when given the right tools. This idea of positioning salespeople to succeed is commonly referred to as sales enablement wherein these professionals have the tools, information, and supplementary content help them sell more effectively.
Content is becoming increasingly important for almost any business since these assets are most often the tools salespeople use to sell more effectively. Whether content was the reason a lead was acquired or if salespeople use content to push a lead further down the sales funnel, sales teams need marketing teams to build up these assets. The assets are more effective as selling tools when it’s apparent that sales and marketing teams are on the same page regarding their approach to storytelling.
Marketers should always strive to build up their assets with as many different types of content for every level of the sales funnel. But even deeper than creating content for salespeople, marketing teams have to break it down into simpler terms. For better alignment through storytelling, marketers need to provide sales teams with well-crafted talking points to tell an engaging story.
For example, let’s say a sales team decided to embrace whiteboarding as their preferred presentation style due to its effectiveness in retaining viewer engagement. Because the salesperson can’t rely on pretty slides created by the marketing team, they have to rely on their ability to tell a story through visuals. Whiteboarding is just one-way salespeople can engage customers, but it will fall flat if the presentation doesn’t have a clear and apparent story to convey.
Additionally, it always helps salespeople to anticipate conversations with customers about their competitors when they have a bit of intel available to them. Marketers should always be evaluating their competition and by doing so can prepare salespeople to have better conversations.
Sales Enablement Goes Both Ways
When sales and marketing teams work independently of one another, they are abandoning one of the most powerful tools for creating not only great content, but crafting powerful messaging that resonates with customers. Salespeople are having the conversations that naturally give them better insights into the psyche of these individuals.
Those insights are like gold to marketers for many reasons. At the highest level, content is often created with the intent of answering specific questions when buyers are in the initial research phase. Without understanding the questions buyers have, how can they know what to create in order to answer those questions?
Another reason salespeople need to share insights with marketing teams is to gauge the effectiveness of their overall messaging. Perhaps sales and marketing teams are united in their storytelling, but whether or not that storytelling is engaging prospects enough to turn them into customers is another question. Sales teams must freely share what they learn from talking to customers in order to make marketing teams better.
Quid pro quo — sales teams need to enable marketing teams so they can, in turn, make their own team more effective.
Collaborating Like Never Before
Collaboration is the key to making sales and marketing alignment work. By injecting a more free-flowing, collaborative spirit between these two teams, alignment is more achievable.
One way to do this involves having regularly scheduled meetings between marketing and sales teams. This could include brainstorm sessions to come up with new content creation initiatives or encouraging key marketing team members to attend weekly sales meetings.
An idea to keep in mind is that whenever special marketing campaigns or sales promotions are going on, teams should have an understanding of both sides. This can be achieved by sharing team calendars and email communications between the two.
Another thing to think about is having team members from both sides collaborating on projects normally kept independent of one another. One example is if a sales team has several members who are perfectly capable of writing strong blog content, the marketing team should incorporate those people into their editorial strategy and production workflow.
Sales and marketing alignment is not only a good idea, it’s far easier to implement than most would believe. It starts with everyone going all in — sales and marketing teams just need to take the leap.
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Author: Jonathan Bentz