4 Things to Fix Sales and Marketing Alignment

4 Things to Fix Sales and Marketing Alignment

Marketers are realizing the disconnect between sales and marketing departments and want to help solve the problem. Why? Because they care about the customer experience. They also care about driving revenue for the company. Lastly, they don’t want the opportunities that they deliver to the sales team to go unrealized.

If you’re a marketer reading this and want to take steps to close the divide between the two departments, this is the article for you.

The Marketer’s Mindset

Marketers focus (or should) on customers and personas. They dial in user experience of the website. They know that it’s critical that brand value propositions and benefit themes are messaged consistently from home page to landing page. They know that serving the right information at the right time is critical to attracting visitors and converting visitors to leads.

Marketers have also realized that they can generate a large quantity of leads by offering helpful information in exchange for a visitor’s contact information. These leads are typically much higher in the funnel, or earlier in the purchasing process, than ever before. A “lead” might have registered for a webinar with tips and tricks on how to perform a function of their job better. However, that clearly doesn’t indicate an intent to purchase or even an interest in what your company does.

These very early stage leads require nurturing. They need time to understand what benefits your company can provide. They demand helpful information. Forming a relationship with very early stage contacts takes time. This longer sales cycle is not something sales organizations are excited to accept or adapt to.

Early stage leads also create complexities in whether sales or marketing owns the communication.I almost wrote that last phrase as “who owns the sale,” but at this point you’re really just forming a relationship and supporting.

You’re building trust. You should not be selling.

Why Sales (Seemingly) Falls Flat

Sales reps are often measured on monthly quotas. They live with a sense of urgency to hit established sales goals. This sense of urgency sometimes leads to some unfortunate, unproductive selling behaviors.

Imagine you’re a sales rep. It’s three weeks into the month and you’re falling short of your monthly goal. What do you do? 

You likely hit the phones. You manually identify new prospects and cold call them with an aggressive sales pitch. You talk too much and don’t listen enough. While you know you should be helpful, you also are on a deadline. 

You push your agenda rather than support the experience of the prospect.

You also might reach out to some of the early stage leads that marketing is sending over to your CRM. Sure, they might have just registered for that webinar, but maybe you can close them quickly. Because marketing is focused on driving as many leads as possible, these leads may not be qualified for a sales communication.

You call and call. You email and email. You overwhelm and scare off what could have (eventually) been a solid lead. You denigrate the company’s reputation and diminish chances of selling to that customer.

So - now that we’ve addressed the drivers of this conflict, what can marketers do to start resolving it?

Start Selling Better - But Make the Process Easier

Telling salespeople to change behavior is usually unproductive. They’ve honed in their rhythms and processes over years of experience. Suggesting that salespeople approach sales in a more consultative way (that may result in a longer sales process) probably won’t go over well. 

But, getting buy-in on new processes from salespeople is much easier when they realize they won’t have to do as much work and they’ll get better results.

So, what steps should you take?

1. Automate Early Stage Communication

Start by setting up automated email nurturing sequences to your content offers. These helpful emails can be set up in your marketing automation tool to look as though they are being sent by individual sales person. The emails should be written as if they are directed to an individual, from an individual.

The result is that early stage leads receive a series of helpful emails, moving them closer to a point of sale, and the sales team hasn’t had to lift a finger.

2. Create Highly Useful Templates for Sales Follow-ups

Another tactic is to ask sales team members what follow-up emails they send after having initial conversations with prospects. You’ll likely find that the responses will vary, both in how the company is positioned and how well the messages are crafted.

Make follow-up easier for salespeople by writing templated responses in the CRM that they can use to call or email follow-ups. You’ll likely improve the quality of communication and align sales efforts to the marketing experience.

3. Listen and Support Sales with Assets

Your role as a marketer should be more than just supplying sales with leads. You should also support sales efforts by creating useful assets that can be used in the sales process.

Ask your sales team what questions they’re getting from prospects. Do they have documents that back up their responses? What additional collateral might be useful in the sales process?

This dialogue will uncover new content creation opportunities that not only help on the sales side, but could illuminate additional marketing messaging needs too.

4. Create a Sales and Marketing SLA

This is a big one. We highly recommend creating a sales and marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA). This document will help both teams come to agreement on expectations from both parties.

The Marketing-Sales SLA defines: 

  • Who you’re selling to - Are you buyer personas clearly defined?
  • Lead qualification definitions - When is a lead considered marketing qualified? When are they sales qualified?
  • Marketing and sales goals - How many leads should marketing be delivering to sales? What should the close rate of those leads be?
  • How leads move from marketing to sales - At what point does the lead move to the sales team? How should that handoff occur?
  • Sales processes - How many touch points should be included in the sales process? 
  • Ongoing collaboration - How frequently will sales and marketing meet to review effectiveness of the marketing and sales engine and any changes needed?

This agreement is critical to ongoing collaboration between both teams. We think this might be best received once some of the prior activities have occurred and sales sees the benefit of increased efficiencies and asset support. Once the olive branch has extended, true alignment and agreement can happen.

Rick Whittington
Digital Marketing
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Rick Whittington is the founder and Principal at Whittington Consulting. He has over 15 years of experience in websites and online marketing. Rick shows clients how to turn th ... Click for full bio

China's Push Toward Excellence Delivers a Global Robotics Investment Opportunity

China's Push Toward Excellence Delivers a Global Robotics Investment Opportunity

Written by: Jeremie Capron

China is on a mission to change its reputation from a manufacturer of cheap, mass-produced goods to a world leader in high quality manufacturing. If that surprises you, you’re not the only one.

For decades, China has been synonymous with the word cheap. But times are changing, and much of that change is reliant on the adoption of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”). For investors, this shift is driving a major opportunity to capture growth and returns rooted in China’s rapidly increasing demand for RAAI technologies.

You may have heard of ‘Made in China 2025,’ the strategy announced in 2015 by the central government aimed at remaking its industrial sector into a global leader in high-technology products and advanced manufacturing techniques. Unlike some public relations announcements, this one is much more than just a marketing tagline. Heavily subsidized by the Chinese government, the program is focused on generating major investments in automated manufacturing processes, also referred to as Industry 4.0 technologies, in an effort to drive a massive transformation across every sector of manufacturing. The program aims to overhaul the infrastructure of China’s manufacturing industry by not only driving down costs, but also—and perhaps most importantly—by improving the quality of everything it manufactures, from textiles to automobiles to electronic components.

Already, China has become what is arguably the most exciting robotics market in the world. The numbers speak for themselves. In 2016 alone, more than 87,000 robots were sold in the country, representing a year-over-year increase of 27%, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Last month’s World Robot Conference 2017 in Beijing brought together nearly 300 artificial intelligence (AI) specialists and representatives of over 150 robotics enterprises, making it one of the world’s largest robotics-focused conference in the world to date. That’s quite a transition for a country that wasn’t even on the map in the area of robotics only a decade ago.

As impressive as that may be, what’s even more exciting for anyone with an eye on the robotics industry is the fact that this growth represents only a tiny fraction of the potential for robotics penetration across China’s manufacturing facilities—and for investors in the companies that are delivering or are poised to deliver on the promise of RAAI-driven manufacturing advancements.

Despite its commitment to leverage the power of robotics, automation and AI to meet its aggressive ‘Made in China 2025’ goals, at the moment China has only 1 robot in place for every 250 manufacturing workers. Compare that to countries like Germany and Japan, where manufacturers utilize an average of one robot for every 30 human workers. Even if China were simply trying to catch up to other countries’ use of robotics, those numbers would signal immense near-term growth. But China is on a mission to do much more than achieve the status quo. The result? According to a recent report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), in 2019 as much as 40% of the worldwide market volume of industrial robots could be sold in China alone.

To understand how the country can support such grand growth, just take a look at where and why robotics is being applied today. While the automotive sector has historically been the largest buyer of robots, China’s strategy reaches far and wide to include a wide variety of future-oriented manufacturing processes and industries.

Related: Smooth Tomorrow's Market Volatility With a Smart Approach to Robotics & AI

Electronics is a key example. In fact, the electrical and electronics industry surpassed the automotive industry as the top buyer of robotics in 2016, with sales up 75% to almost 30,000 units. Assemblers such as Foxconn rely on thousands of workers to assemble today’s new iPhones. Until recently, the assembly of these highly delicate components required a level of human dexterity that robots simply could not match, as well as human vision to help ensure accuracy and quality. But recent advancements in robotics are changing all that. Industrial robots already have the ability to handle many of the miniature components in today’s smart phones. Very soon, these robots are expected to have the skills to bolster the human workforce, significantly increasing manufacturing capacity. Newer, more dexterous industrial robots are expected to significantly reduce human error during the assembly process of even the most fragile components, including the recently announced OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens that Samsung and Apple introduced on their latest mobile devices including the iPhone X. Advancements in computer vision are transforming how critical quality checks are performed on these and many other electronic devices. All of these innovations are coming together at just the right time for a country that is striving to create the world’s most advanced manufacturing climate.

Clearly, China’s trajectory in the area of RAAI is in hyper drive. For investors who are seeking a tool to leverage this opportunity in an intelligent and perhaps unexpected way, the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index may help. The ROBO Index already offers a vast exposure to China’s potential growth due to the depth and breadth of the robotics and automation supply chain. As China continues to improve its manufacturing processes to meet its 2025 initiative, every supplier across China’s far-reaching supply chains will benefit. Wherever they are located, suppliers of RAAI-related components—reduction gears, sensors, linear motion systems, controllers, and so much more—are bracing for spikes in demand as China pushes to turn its dream into a reality.

Today, around 13% of the revenues generated by the ROBO Global Index members are driven by China’s investments in robotics and automation. Tomorrow? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for certain: China’s commitment to improving the quality and cost-efficiency of its manufacturing facilities is showing no signs of slowing down—and its reliance on robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence is vital to its success.

Want all the details? Download the ROBO Global Investment Report - Summer Brings Best ROBO Earnings in Six Years or visit us here.

ROBO Global
Robotics and AI
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ROBO Global LLC is the creator of the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index series, which provides comprehensive, transparent and diversified benchmarks representing the ... Click for full bio