A strong brand is the ultimate lever for sales, but in too many organizations the relationship between sales and marketing is broken. In 2019's Walker Sands State of Martech Report, more than half of marketers and salespeople said their teams are divided. The outcome can be different messages being pushed out to customers and prospects, which ultimately results in an inconsistent brand experience and missed sales opportunities.
The problem can typically be attributed to a lack of synergy and clear definition in the success metrics of both departments. There will always be separate areas where credit is given to each group, but it’s essential that the business is also giving credit to both when appropriate.
Competition can often be a good thing, but it can easily become unhealthy if the marketing and sales teams are working against each other. Just like product marketing helped stop product and marketing infighting, it’s even more vital that companies can join the dots between the sales and marketing teams.
Marketing departments are still often judged on their success by outdated sales metrics. The best companies ensure there is no sales and marketing divide by aligning their objectives and then measuring and compensating the performance of both groups in intelligent ways.
When there is a close working relationship between the two departments, and the chief executive incentivizes them in a way where they pull in the same direction, everything comes together in a seamless way. Strong leadership is crucial, and close sales and marketing alignment, supported by actionable intelligence that is owned by both functions, helps unleash the power of a brand and unlock business value.
A company that has successfully closed the sales and marketing divide is premium home technology brand SharkNinja, whose products include the UK's best-selling vacuum cleaner and multicookers. Here three SharkNinja executives share their views on the disconnect that plagues many rivals, and how accurate brand and customer intelligence forges closer alignment
It’s a tale as old as time: the sales and marketing departments running completely independent of each other. In many companies, the disconnect is deeply rooted within the culture. Yet for any organization looking to achieve predictable, sustainable growth, it’s vital the teams truly understand each other’s roles and work toward the same goals. Forging seamless alignment requires the right culture and mutual respect of differences.
This starts with leadership. Without strong relationships between departmental leaders, there’s little likelihood of meaningful cross-team collaboration or execution. We put a lot of effort into ensuring our senior team is tight knit, with all parties in constant, transparent communication with one another. It sounds simple, but having frequent leadership team meetings means there is never a lack of visibility between sales and marketing, metrics and goals are aligned and messaging between both is consistent.
Ultimately, a strong brand is incredibly important when it comes to sales. A lot of companies hide behind their brand name and rely on the legacy of their brand to carry them, but this can breed complacency. We use meticulously gathered customer insights to inform every aspect of our products. Not only does this give us the benefit of our brand values being completely entwined with our customer values, but it also means all departments are driven by the same insights. There is therefore great cohesion across teams, which is essential to developing a strong brand and, in turn, leads to strong sales.
It’s not uncommon for sales teams to believe marketing is out of touch with the customer voice or marketers to view the sales force as being myopic, too focused on individual customer experiences and insufficiently aware of the larger market. In short, each group undervalues the other’s contributions and this lack of alignment can not only lead to internal friction but, ultimately, performance can often be impacted too.
Having a shared goal is fundamental to the removal of silos and divides. Our ethos of placing the customer at the heart of everything we do, for example, filters through to the core of every single department. Our thorough consumer-testing process means every touchpoint on our products, such as the knobs, handles, buttons and screens, has had the approval of our customers, as well as the marketing imagery, videos and messaging.
We are constantly measuring and scrutinizing the customer journey, retention, consumer insights, brand metrics and purchase drivers, and challenging assumptions. The sales team therefore has complete confidence not only in the products it is selling, but also in the strategies the marketing team has developed to go alongside them.
With all marketing materials refined according to the findings of the consumer-testing process, the argument can never be made that our marketers are out of touch with our customers; it’s simply not possible. Simultaneously, the marketing team knows the sales department gets the same insights, leaving no room for claims they are unaware of larger market trends. Putting the customer at the core means strategy, direction, data and goals are aligned across all departments, and there is no room for silos to develop.
The silos between sales and marketing departments are a long-standing issue in every industry and misalignments between these teams can cause serious inefficiencies. Both teams have the same goal – driving sales and revenue – so it’s really important they are kept in sync. Successful commercial operations require extreme co-ordination between sales and marketing, which has been amplified during the coronavirus pandemic.
Customer insights are crucial to our product development cycle. Prior to COVID-19, we hosted in-person consumer panels to get real-time feedback on everything from prototypes to marketing strategies and messaging. We have had to adapt how we secure this crucial information, harnessing new communications technology to conduct virtual testing and view consumer interactions with the products in their homes remotely.
The synergy between our new product development, marketing and sales processes is incredibly valuable. It also helps us to create a consistent consumer offer across all channels, which allows our customers to shop how and where they would like to, and allows us to support each of our retail partners equally during these uncertain times.
Unity between sales and marketing has been key to our success and it’s the biggest opportunity for improving business performance. When marketing and sales teams unite around a single revenue cycle, they dramatically improve marketing return on investment (ROI), sales productivity and, most importantly, top-line growth.