Guest post by Michael Deane: Early last summer, I was pulled into a meeting on a Friday afternoon at the company I worked for at the time. This was strange because a) we never have meetings on Friday and b) I never get pulled into meetings. Two thoughts were zigzagging in my mind: either we have landed a huge account, and they want me to take it on, or we are all getting laid off.
The truth turned out to be right up there – we had landed a huge account, and I was going to run it, because they have just fired the company who used to run their marketing because they made an error so surprising I burst out laughing in the middle of the meeting. Luckily, my boss can take a joke.
What happens if communication fails?
This is how the story goes. Our predecessors hired an external contract to run a PPC campaign, and their own sales team was to run the show. They also had a guy doing on-site optimization for them, so all seemed to be running well. Two weeks into the campaign, they had zero conversions, nothing was happening, and the client was just about to walk into their office, when they finally rang the PPC guy up. Turns out they were actually getting a bunch of clicks and calls, but the sales team had no clue where they were landing.
This story quickly became my new nightmare, and I took a good three hours of my own team’s time to discuss how and why they are communicating. I open every meeting quoting this article, and hammering home the point that everyone will be happier if they just find a way to work together. In short, this is what we have learned about the importance of sales and marketing staying on the same page, whether they work in the same company or not. Especially if not.
The right buyer personas
In every company I have worked, buyer personas were created by the marketing team, strategies were crafted based on them, and it was passed on to the sales team to “sell, sell, sell”. I find this is wrong on many levels. First of all, marketers rarely know how to actually sell, and secondly – they will not be the ones doing it, even if they do.
This is why a sit-down with sales and marketing makes the best buyer personas. No one has insight into the buyer cycle and customer base like your sales team. If you can manage to have them talk to marketing and together come up with buyer personas based on actual facts you already have about the people who buy your products and services, you will have a much better chance to improve every KPI you can think of. Why would you need marketing to do research, when you already have all the data you need, sitting in the office of your head of sales?
The proper KPIs
Speaking of key performance indicators, do your sales and marketing teams track the same ones? But do they meet to talk about them? Thought so.
Chances are you are all tracking cost per acquisition, lifetime value, conversion rates and social media engagement, but if you analyze this data together, you will come up with much better strategies for the future. Your marketing guys most likely think about the best type of lead to chase, while sales knows which deals they can close fast – if you bring these two together, you can easily increase revenue, and achieve all your targets, which will make all of their lives easier.
The power of content
I can’t tell you how sick I am of the “Content is king” phrase – but I still use it a lot, though not quite in the same wording. We can’t deny the role it plays in our sales and marketing efforts, can we?
However, what marketing comes up with often doesn’t boost sales, and the sales pitches sales writes are often unmarketable. This is why you need to get all your smart people in the same room, and have them craft something that will work for both goals. Better yet, you need to rework your existing content to match your current needs. It’s faster, it’s cheaper, and it can tide you over quite nicely, while you work on brand new stuff. I shudder to think that most of the content marketing produces is never used by sales, because they don’t know what to do with it. Think of the resources you are pouring down the drain.
The key takeaway: meetings
No one likes meetings, and I used to hate them until a couple of years ago, when I started running them differently. You need them for two reasons: a) your teams need to see each other, and establish a relationship where they can actually tell each other what’s wrong with a certain idea and why they feel it will not work and b) nothing sparks ideas like sitting down together and just talking.
Establishing a company culture where sales and marketing are not enemies whom you blame for lost clients is not too difficult. We have one meeting a week – there are no formalities and ties, we are all equals. All ideas are treated equally. The person who presides is my assistant, because she holds all the numbers in her hands. Our agenda consists of a list of things we need to improve or tackle, and everyone gets to speak their mind – it took us six months to get from “they sent us a rubbish draft we couldn’t use” to “Mat’s team had a brilliant idea about the landing page”. But we got there with a lot of coffee, cake, and me shamelessly instigating fights to get everything out in the open.
If you work in marketing, the first thing you need to teach yourself is that communication is the key to every success – between departments, with clients, with customers. If you master that and work on it every single day, you can reach whatever goal is set in front of you.
About the author:
Michael is the man behind Qeedle, a marketing and business hub aimed at helping SMB owners and startups get their hang of the business world. He has been working as what is often called a “marketing executive” for over a decade and has been in a love-hate relationship with the job for about five.