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Tips for SME business leaders on creating a sales and marketing culture

A couple of years ago, research revealed that sales and marketing teams within companies were all too often not cooperative, but competitive. The survey stated that 51 per cent of marketers were dissatisfied with the level of communication between the teams and that 53 per cent of sales professionals were unhappy with marketing’s support.

While companies have been working hard to encourage sales and marketing teams away from this antagonistic mindset, it remains an issue, especially for fast-growing businesses – of which we work with many (being in the tech space, things move pretty quickly!). At Mogrify we believe that for a company’s sales and marketing to be effective, the teams need to work together. In fact, we believe all companies should take a ‘whole-of-business’ approach to their sales and marketing - not just those two teams.

So we’ve put together our top five tips for SME business owners / leaders to encourage a culture of collaboration between the different departments. Collaboration won’t only improve your customer relations; it will make your marketing more powerful.

 1. Be clear about where customer knowledge lies

If your marketing team is not customer-facing, they need to acknowledge that they are probably not best placed to act on customer insights. However, the sales team, tech team, account management and customer services team do know your customers well. The marketer’s role is to transfer customer insights and feedback from the sales team and other customer-facing staff into marketing assets that can be used repeatedly and scalably. Product managers – particularly in IT – are also extremely valuable to a marketer. They know the products and benefits inside out, so it’s vital that marketers work with them too.

 2. Use existing content and set up a feedback loop

Make sure your sales team and other customer-facing staff are making good use of the assets that the marketing team are producing. This might be sales collateral, blogs or videos - or whatever best supports a particular stage of the buyer’s journey. Not only do customer-facing staff need to utilise those assets, but they need to give feedback too. Marketing needs to know what works and what doesn’t, and what could be improved.  Providing your customers with interesting, useful and relevant content means the perception of your organisation and the individuals working in it will only be improved.

 3. Improve internal communication 

In a similar vein to point 2 above, one simple way for marketing to reach out to other departments is to develop an internal communication explaining what marketing will be doing each month. You might want to use some collaboration tools such as Teams or Slack to encourage other parts of the business to suggest ideas or discuss customer problems that could be useful to marketing. We do this for all of our customers, and they genuinely look forward to the monthly communication as they get to hear about everything they’ve been doing!

We’ve often found there’s also a physical aspect to internal communication (or the lack of it!). Take a look at your office layout. Do your customer-facing people sit with your marketing people? Are they friendly with each other? Often, we come across these vital resources seated at opposite ends of the building, looking daggers across the office, and blaming each other for the lack of leads or sales conversions. If you run a business, think carefully about where these teams sit. Encourage them to recognise that they can help each other. If marketing sits with the right people, they will soak up customer feedback and insights much more easily and naturally.

 4. Marketing success doesn’t necessarily mean just increasing leads

Yes, we are aware that nearly every business owner has the intention of increasing marketing spend to increase the number of leads. We get this, and we live and breathe it. However, in our experience it can also mean increasing the percentage of leads that are ultimately closed. If the whole team recognises this, you can see how important it is for sales and marketing to align. Sales shouldn’t be looking at marketing saying, ‘Where are my leads?” Instead they should be asking, “How can we work together to ensure we close / nurture these leads?”

 5. Ensure there is a good process and full transparency in how leads are followed up 

Your business needs to reach the stage where teams are comfortable when marketing queries what happened to a particular lead. If leads are not being followed up by sales then senior management need to get involved. If marketing is going to “work for sales”, then sales need to work for marketing too. Collaboration is a two-way street. Set up your handover process, make sure everyone’s bought into your follow up process, and – if required - make sure the lead is nurtured until it’s a real sales opportunity and can be closed.

And remember – not every lead or “interest” that marketing has generated will be ready to buy yet. Be patient, nurture it and work together to increase the likelihood that they will buy from your organisation rather than an alternative.

A final note on this point, it actually benefits the marketing team if they know the leads they are providing are not good. However, everyone knows that the easiest way for a sales person to justify not meeting target is to say: “all the leads are rubbish / no one is interested”. The business has to make sure that they are trying to find out where the problem occurs – are the leads really rubbish, or do they just need some long-term nurturing with a good follow up process? There needs to be a transparent process and a culture of accountability if any gaps in the system are to be identified.

Those are our top tips for encouraging collaboration within your company to help grow your business. If you’d like to know more about how to get your teams collaborating better for content creation specifically, read our article “B2B content marketing is a team sport - get your business involved”. If you would like an in-depth review of your current marketing and sales alignment, register for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

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- Henry Ford