Regardless of who your favorite sports team is, or how emotionally invested you are, everyone can agree that a dominant performance from a great team is one of the most exhilarating things to watch, to be a part of. It’s what makes sports great.

The teams that have consistently defeated their opponents and won against all odds, at the highest levels, stake their claim in the pages of history. This achievement is rarely, if ever, the result of luck. The attribution goes to discipline, preparation, and communication (among others). A true team effort.

Sales Marketing Alignment is not dissimilar.

A Lesson in Sales and Marketing Teamwork From One Of Today’s Top Football Coaches

Nick Saban, arguably one of the best college football coaches of all time, has said he teaches his players to only focus on giving their best on each individual play, to only focus on what they can control. From there they learn to trust the process. What this results in is a group of individuals, each with different roles, working as one unit, to accomplish one goal.

To consistently win in business, a comparable philosophy should be applied.

Here are five ways to achieve sales and marketing alignment.  

1. Communication

The first and most crucial component for success is communication.

This seems obvious, but it is often overlooked or neglected. Each department must have a clear understanding of the other’s role, responsibilities, challenges, and strategies of their counterpart. Scheduling regular meetings is a great opportunity to debrief one another and see how the plan is working. Discussing the plan against the outcome – understanding the result and listening to one another.

Marketing is fluid. What works today might not work tomorrow. So with that in mind, be flexible, listen to what the other team is experiencing and collaborate to find a suitable solution.

There will be times when everything is working as you intended. It is still important to maintain an open line of communication to ensure that if and when things do change, you aren’t finding yourself surprised, scrambling to understand how this could have happened.

2. Set Goals

Setting SMART goals for each department is how everyone remains accountable. Marketing and sales teams have very different individual goals and responsibilities, but overall everyone is working towards the same result. It can help to create a service level agreement between departments, outlining the key performance indicators that will ensure success. Having these benchmarks will help each team evaluate their performance and check it against where they should be pacing

Look at the data, and understand the story your analytics is telling. The same way athletes watch game film to prepare for an upcoming game and learn from their mistakes, marketing and sales need to know what created success and what resulted in failure. Google Analytics should be your best friend; properly set up, you will be able to find the answers to nearly any question that you have regarding past performance. Understanding where you are, today is the most logical way to build a plan to get to where you want to be.

Define the stages of your funnel so each team agrees where the handoff from marketing to sales occurs. All conversions are not sales ready. The content you produce is designed to attract buyers at each level of the sales funnel. Trust the process you have in place and properly nurture top of the funnel (TOFU) and middle of the funnel (MOFU) conversions – engaging the buyer too early may turn them off and appear too aggressive. Continue reading about the fundamentals of inbound marketing 

3. Brainstorm

The fun part. You know the data, you set the goals, now you build the strategy. The marketing team will be always working ahead to prepare the content and have creative polished and ready to launch. Determining what to create takes time – scheduling brainstorming sessions allows the ideas to flow in an open forum, a place where new ideas can be born (from a lot of bad ideas).

Rule number one – there are no bad ideas!

Invite all departments – sales and marketing, of course, but the administration, accounting, HR…

Everyone is creative – opening the door to all departments will give you the perspective from every layer of your business. You cannot accomplish something you never have without doing something you never have.

4. Content

The content strategy you create for your business will be made up of information from many different sources. A good mix of information will really help to paint a clear picture of what your prospective buyers are looking for, what their pain points are, and why they are looking for change. The following components are a good place to start:

  • Market research (See our guide for Understanding Your Audience for this one.)  
  • Competitor analysis
  • SWOT analysis
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Client surveys
  • Feedback from the sales team
  • Marketing analytics

Provide a wide mix of content as well. While some buyers may know what they need and are ready to talk with a sales representative, others may have just started the process, still unsure of exactly what they are in search of. These top of the funnel buyers will need to be nurtured, and the rich content that you create is what will assist your prospective buyers in their journey to finding the solution that fits best.

Thought leadership is the ultimate goal, and a sound content strategy is how you will get there.

5. Process

This is all about creating a plan and sticking to it.

Assigning responsibilities and creating a thorough process will keep everyone organized and focused on the mission. Before anything else, the collective group needs to meet and develop a blueprint for how each of the above items will be accomplished.

An important thing to keep in mind when creating process is to get buy-in from everyone on the team. Everyone giving their best effort within their individual role, all working towards the greater goal will give you the best chance for success. If marketing and sales are disorganized, and not properly communicating the results will naturally be unfavorable.

All in all, when your sales and marketing teams perfect these five areas, their teamwork really will make your business’s dream work. 

If sales and marketing alignment is one of your top priorities (as it should be), download our Sales and Marketing Checklist and get going!

The checklist will help your sales and marketing teams identify and agree on things like:

  • Ideal buyer profiles, target audiences, and buyer personas
  • Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead definitions
  • Lead and sales goals using the SMART goal formula
  • Service level agreements for accountability
  • PLUS, a handy glossary and other additional resources you’re sure to find helpful.

You and your team can get your hands on this valuable piece of content here.

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