Why You Can’t Afford to Keep Sales and Marketing in Silos

Jonathan Gray

As Frank Sinatra crooned, as far as love and marriage are concerned, you can’t have one without the other. It turns out the same holds true for marketing and sales — though even Ol’ Blue Eyes would have had a hard time writing a rhyming ditty around that pair of words.

Cute song lyrics or not, marketing and sales are essential to one another. The shifts to mobile and digital have created consumer demand for immediate responsiveness. You have to know who your customers are and what they need the instant they interact with your brand. And you’d better be ready to help them buy at a moment’s notice.

Sales are increasingly time-sensitive. By the time most customers contact your sales team, they’ve already conducted up to 90 percent of their prepurchase research. If your sales representatives reach out to these leads within five minutes of them landing on your site, those potential customers are 21 times more likely to engage in the sales process. Connecting with leads in that five-minute window can generate a ninefold increase in your conversion rate.

The only way to reach people in a timely fashion is to know who they are before they’re ready to buy. Marketing is key to achieving that. Customers expect personalized interactions and content that’s relevant to their journeys. They’re the ones who control the buying process now, and marketing and sales must work together to adapt to this change.

These two departments need to tag team their campaigns so they each enter the buying process at the right time. Then, they can work together to successfully guide the customer to the same conclusion.

The In-Tandem Approach in Practice
My company recently helped Axtel, a Mexican telecommunications corporation, improve its conversion rates by taking a tandem marketing and sales approach. Axtel wanted to boost its qualified sales leads and overall sales numbers. We created a customer journey ecosystem that offered a seamless end-to-end experience.

The marketing team developed detailed and hypersegmented customer personas so we could target the right people with the right content. The marketers also devised SEO strategies and conducted testing on Axtel’s messaging and landing pages, which helped ensure that more people were qualified leads before reaching the sales department.

The data collected throughout the customer journey allowed Axtel’s highly trained sales representatives to provide personalized service when the time came to convert. Based on this information, the lead was delivered to the right sales rep, who had the most complete knowledge to help that customer. We set up cross-channel communication systems so representatives at every point in the funnel could deliver top-notch service to prospects. Every sales team member had all the information necessary to connect meaningfully with their leads.

This integrated approach increased Axtel’s qualified sales leads by 66 percent. Overall, sales rose from 4.7 to 13 percent, and the sales team outperformed its predecessor on new installations by 38 percent. These boosts were amplified by the fact that we also decreased costs per lead by 40 percent. Such results are only possible if marketing and sales work together.

When these departments work in silos, sales representatives spend half their time on unproductive leads and neglect up to 80 percent of their marketing leads. That’s an egregious number, considering that marketing has likely gathered important information that the sales team could use to close deals faster and more efficiently.

Blending marketing and sales provides both teams with a holistic view of the customer journey and allows them to develop impactful insights that drive performance improvements.

Implementing A Blended Strategy
If you want to implement a blended strategy in your own organization, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Talk the same talk. It may seem like a small thing, but you’ll see significant performance improvements when your marketing and sales organizations align their definitions of all terms in the sales funnel, including leads and conversions. Without clear agreement on basic terms, your people end up talking past one another. You can’t deliver a flawless customer experience if the team members running your campaigns are out of sync.
  2. Establish a sales and marketing lab. Nimble companies explore new ways to engage with their customers. Designate a space where your marketing and sales teams can learn skills, such as predictive analysis, and experiment with potential strategies. A dedicated lab teaches them to be adaptive and allows them to test their theories without jeopardizing real-world results. Most importantly, it gives them a place to practice collaboration and exchange ideas.
  3. Maintain constant contact. Nearly 50 percent of marketing and sales professionals say that a lack of communication is the biggest challenge to interdepartmental alignment. Marketing and sales should understand one another’s roles within the funnel. Although they serve different functions, they must have common KPIs to reach their shared goals. Communication breakdowns between these teams lead to disconnected metrics and ineffective campaigns.

Marketing and sales teams make natural partners. They both work toward growing your customer base and revenues, and teams with a shared vision complement one another and generate more creative, engaging campaigns. At a time when consumers demand personalized, instantaneous attention, you want all of your best hands on deck. The only way to stay competitive is to allow your best marketers and salespeople to excel by realizing that without one group, you can’t find success with the other.   

Jonathan Gray is the senior vice president of marketing and leader of business development and marketing services for Revana. His team oversees marketing analytics and integrated marketing services programs that automate electronic marketing strategies on behalf of industry-leading clients.