At best, sales and marketing teams are acquaintances. At worst, they’re enemies. At least, that’s the situation at most organizations. While a healthy bit of sibling rivalry typically doesn’t hurt, the sales and marketing relationship often suffers from miscommunication—or a complete lack of communication—as well as occasional animosity. This is remarkable, especially considering that the two teams typically have the same goal: increasing business revenue.
There is a point in the history of sales and marketing in which it may have made sense for these teams to display more competition than camaraderie. John Wanamaker—a marketer active in the 1800s who is often called the pioneer of advertising—is quoted as saying: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
It is easy to understand why salespeople didn’t appreciate marketing efforts in that time. There was no accountability to business results, and salespeople could find themselves wondering whether the marketing team was contributing at all to their work, even while marketers took some of the credit for business success.
Those days are over, though. With the rise of digital marketing and the advent of marketing technology, marketing accountability is at an all-time high. Furthermore, these advances have allowed marketers to take more responsibility in not just catching the attention of ideal clients, but also in nurturing them down the sales funnel to ensure a perfect hand off to sales.
Explaining The Definition of Sales and Marketing: Strategic Sales and Marketing and International Marketing
What is Sales?
The sales team is responsible for moving products or services to customers. They are also responsible for upselling current customers and clients. While sales teams may practice some form of outreach through cold calling, they typically deal with leads that are brought to them by the marketing team. Salespeople develop relationships with these individuals, determine what their needs are, and determine the proper products and services to fill those needs.
What is Marketing?
The marketing team is responsible for everything from increasing brand awareness to delivering high quality leads to the sales team. From a higher level, the marketing team identifies and defines ideal customers, communicates with them on relevant online and offline platforms, and primes them for a relationship with a salesperson.
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Strategic Sales and Marketing and International Sales and Marketing
While these two teams often operate on their own, strategic sales and marketing is the ideal state. Strategic sales and marketing requires two important elements:
- Working together in a separate but equal capacity that relies on great communication.
- Looking to the future by highlighting trends in consumer behavior and pipeline growth as well as keeping a foot in the present by addressing customer’s needs in the day-to-day.
When it comes to international sales and marketing efforts, these elements are doubly important, given the expanded range and larger customer database.
7 Steps for Strategic Sales and Marketing
- Create Personas in a Joint Sales & Marketing Effort
Personas are generally considered the responsibility of the marketing team, and they are sometimes ignored by the sales team. Considering that each of these teams is speaking to the same ideal customers, though, this is a huge missed opportunity and an effort that should be worked on together. In the end, this work will benefit both teams.
While the marketing team may still be tasked with the work of creating these influential strategy pieces, sales should be heavily involved in the effort. Getting the input of salespeople up front, interviewing them throughout, and seeking their approval at the end will help marketers create personas that serve both teams and result in vital buy-in from salespeople.
- Make an Effort to Document the Buyers’ Journey for Each Persona
The buyer’s journey should be the basis of all sales and marketing efforts. Unfortunately, this step is often skipped. Even more unfortunate is the fact that sales and marketing rarely collaborate on this vital piece of strategy, despite the fact that they each are responsible for significant parts of it.
Sales and marketing leaders should work through each persona in joint sales and marketing sessions, examining how each persona becomes aware of their company, how they become a lead, and how they eventually become a sale. As the teams work through these stages, leaders should keep a list of the various needs and questions each persona will have. This process will help with the next step, which should address what assets are already available to answer these questions and to move each persona through to the next step.
- Audit Sales and Marketing Assets and Document Gaps Along the Buyer’s Journey
Now that both sales and marketing know what each persona’s journey to purchase looks like, it’s time to examine whether or not they have assets to speak to audience needs along each step of the process.
In this stage, both sales and marketing need to spend some time collecting everything that both the sales and marketing teams have created, including whitepapers, infographics, interactive quizzes, e-books, case studies, assessments, email streams, and more.
Once this is compiled, marketers and salespeople should organize these content pieces along each step of the funnel identifying where they have appropriate assets, and where they are lacking.
- Establish a Content Marketing Plan Across the Buyers’ Journey
Content marketing is often regarded as a brand awareness tactic, and one with questionable impact on revenue. While some sing the praises of content marketing, those who are focused on quantifiable business results may not be sold on the concept.
What many don’t know, though, is that content marketing is an ideal method for connecting sales and marketing as well as building a strong strategy that will move interested buyers through the sales process.
When creating a sales and marketing content strategy, make sure to get both sales and marketing leaders in the room to discuss what audience needs they’d like to address, and how content assets can support throughout the different stages of the funnel.
- Develop a Joint Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Strategy
While a content marketing strategy may seem to favor the marketing team, an account-based marketing strategy will focus on the needs of the sales team. Still, these efforts should be worked on together. Marketing and sales leaders can choose to create an organic ABM strategy or to adopt a more expensive—but very effective—ABM technology solution that will allow for sales and marketing automation.
While the sales team may be more in tune with the accounts they want to target, the marketing team should be brought in at every level. This is especially true when it comes to content creation for the ABM ads or for dynamic, account-focused content on websites.
- Implement Regular Sales and Marketing Communication Efforts
One of the simplest steps for ensuring a great sales and marketing strategy that creates and maintains alignment of the teams is creating a regular cadence for communication. This could be as simple as a weekly email or as complex as a quarterly offsite. It’s best practice, though, to ensure that both teams are completely on the same page in terms of regular sales and marketing efforts as well as long term business goals.
- Repeat Steps 1-6 on a Quarterly or Annual Basis
Finally, the last step for a successful sales and marketing strategy is revisiting and refining the steps above. The work of creating successful sales and marketing strategy is never finished. Instead, sales and marketing leaders should make it a priority to track progress, evolve their tactics, and stay abreast of both industry changes as well as client and consumer behavior changes.
Whether marketers are looking to bolster their international sales and marketing or simply start taking steps towards more strategic sales and marketing efforts, the 7 useful tips above will help to create a sales and marketing strategy that drives organizational success.
What’s most important is that marketing teams and sales teams are aggressively working together with an understanding of shared goals and responsibilities. Ultimately, as the roles of sales teams and marketing teams grow closer and the lines of accountability continue to blur, it is in everyone’s best interest to start working together.
The best part is, the more sales and marketing connect on personas, buyers’ processes, strategies, and results, the more refined the efforts will become and the better business results will be. In other words—everyone wins.