For years, the term “Sales-Marketing alignment” has been tossed around everywhere, from blogs to boardrooms. Everyone acknowledges the value of that Sales-Marketing handshake, where the two teams sit down and clearly define what a lead represents and how they should be tracked and managed. However, the ball is being dropped: REAL conversations aren’t actually happening, or more often than not, they happen too late.
Unfortunately, many companies only think about alignment AFTER the CRM is purchased (or migration to a new one is in the works), and Sales has provided a brain dump to a vendor on their wants and their needs. At this point, Marketing is informed that a CRM is being provisioned with x,y,z workflows, and are asked how these new workflows will “fit in” to existing marketing processes and the marketing automation platform. This is NOT the way to run a successful business. It does not work!
Over the years, I have received far too many requests to review integrations and configurations that fell short of being successful. The culprit is almost always that marketing was brought into the discussions too late. Without knowing what the sales team wants in terms of quality leads, and without understanding what is and is not possible between the marketing tool of choice and the CRM, the result will most likely be a broken, or, even worse, failed implementation. My stance may be strong, but it’s a reality. Sales-Marketing alignment should happen from Day 1, when the decision is made to either start using a CRM or to migrate to a new one. Even better –start from Day 0 –before a CRM is even considered, and build the CRM requirements from an existing alignment, rather than afterwards.
The challenge is that Sales and Marketing teams have historically been siloed. Each team has a set of objectives and answer to different divisions. Given the knowledge we have today on how important the Sales-Marketing handshake is to lead nurturing, and how this results in better leads being passed to Sales, the silos must be removed. Modern businesses must strive to create cross-communication between these teams in order to realize the many benefits of working together. When a CRM is configured without deep input from marketing, you will most likely have to go back and make significant changes or updates. The most common scenarios we see are:
- adding new fields
- updating/creatingCRM workflows that were not really thought about
- re-defining the meaning of a hot lead
While a field change here and there may not seem like a major concern, there are always downstream impacts. Even more so, if the sales and marketing teams have defined leads in very different ways! Inevitably, if marketing is not contributing to CRM discussions at the right time, you’ll end up having to deal with fires and urgent problems. Even a quick fix can compromise data integrity.
So why do companies take chances? I suppose this is a rhetorical question! When businesses integrate marketing early in CRM discussions, they reduce the risk of costly changes. The benefits are clear:
- Having these open discussions helps both teams understand each other.
- Critical discussions related to defining a lead result in increased conversions.
- Sales becomes educated on the capabilities of the marketing automation platform so that the decisions on lead flows can be made end-to-end and not just middle-to-end.
- Marketing understands better how to nurture leads and only send high quality leads to sales.
- Open conversations and knowledge sharing will empower both teams, which in turn will strengthen your business and increase your ROI.
At Tegrita, we help our clients map out their business process for leads, end-to-end. In a workshop format, we engage with your Sales team, Marketing team, and other key stakeholders and “interview” them. This helps us find a good starting point for creating and defining your lead process. We provide detailed diagrams of what your process should look like end-to-end, including CRM requirements. From there, you can start your lead generation engines.
It is naïve to think “if we build it, they will come”. Leads don’t magically turn up in a CRM. There are many touchpoints for prospects before they become leads, and ensuring sales and marketing are in agreement on those touchpoints will result in a successful lead generation effort. Sales-Marketing Alignment should not be a dated catchphrase–it should be a natural progression towards a modern marketing model. Don’t drop the ball: the cost of not having early alignment is too high.
About the AuthorMore Content by Mythili Viswanathan, PhD