Are your sales and marketing teams aligned? Let’s see.
The 7 Signs of Aligned Teams
1. They are working toward the same goals
A cornerstone of aligned teams is the fact that they are working towards the same shared goals. Aligned teams don’t define success as just bringing in inbound leads or closing outbound deals, but but in shared goals that lead to organizational success. This is about more than the fact that the teams share the same top line goals, but that the two teams are also working to the same vision.
In a recent article, EY noted that their research showed a shared vision was one of the team characteristics that makes the team more likely to achieve the high performance for which companies are striving.
I once worked with a client whose sales team would call inbound leads up to 6 times within the first 24 hours. This calling improved a few of their KPIs, like day one contact rates, but led to a poor customer experience. In theory, sales should have valued customer experience as much as marketing, but there was no clearly defined vision, so their tactical KPIs were always the deciding factor. These two teams were not working to the same goals.
2. Open and honest communication
It will come as no surprise to you, but sales and marketing are not always going to see eye to eye. Sometimes marketing is going to screw up.
Sometimes sales is going to fail. Sometimes they simply won’t agree on the right approach. When these differences arise, it is important to address the issues openly and honestly. If as a marketing or sales leader, you are questioning whether communication is open enough, then most likely the answer is no. Open communication should be clearly visible within both the small and big interactions between sales and marketing. Do both sides speak freely at meetings? Do team members at the same level take issues directly to each other? Is constructive feedback offered and accepted positively?
At DiscoverOrg, we have regular meeting between sales and marketing and we proactively work to get the best ideas from both sides and from all levels of the organization. This has allowed us to build trust across the organization and helps us find the right answers quickly.
3. They want to work together
Let’s face it, sales and marketing are almost always going to be tied together. They have to work together, go to events together and achieve goals together, so the time should not be drudgery. This isn’t rocket science. Each team member chooses the attitude they bring and that attitude is viral. If your team is happy, others will respond the same way. If there are individuals on the teams that do not bring a positive spirit, they should be spoken to so that the poor attitude doesn’t spread. This positive attititude is a key component in your teams wanting to work together and a key component in sales success. Aligned teams believe working together will result in better outcomes and want to work together.
4. They trust each other
The classic sales grumble is that marketing is bringing in bad leads. The classic marketing complaint is that sales isn’t working hard enough to close leads. These complaints showcase a lack of trust between organizations. Lack of trust leads to inefficiencies because people will spend too much time trying to justify their decisions and will not be willing to quickly own their mistakes for fear of finger pointing. Effective teams start from a place of trust. They assume the best about the other team.
5. They learn together
No matter how smart your teams are, no one gets it perfect the first time or the second or third or the fourth time. Getting better requires an organization that is constantly learning and learning quickly. The best sales and marketing teams establish a cadence of testing and improving together and understand that learning will include successes and failures. The teams root for each other to succeed and take no pleasure when tests are not successful.
At DiscoverOrg, we have an environment that encourages learning, which means we move fast so we can learn fast. In the marketing department, we are open about what we are testing, the goals and the results. Many of our tests are successful (We increased our month over month lead conversion rate by 152.19% in April 2017!), but others are not (2 out of our 5 landing page tests the same month had lower conversion rates). Regardless of the results though, we are working with our sales team to constantly improve, which means we are quickly improving as an organization.
6. It isn’t just work
Do your teams get together beyond work? Do they eat lunch together? Knowing your teammates beyond work is critical to working together. Knowing the other team on a personal level underpins all of the other items on this list. A personal relationship builds trust, makes it more enjoyable to work together, opens communication and makes sure there is a similar, shared understanding of the goals. If you see your teams interacting beyond meetings and email, you are likely building aligned teams.
7. They are closing more deals
One of the best indicators that your teams are aligned effectively is the fact that you are closing more deals and retaining more customers. Research shows how powerful alignment can be in driving growth:
- Alignment will drive revenue. By aligning your teams, your company could generate 208% more marketing revenue for the organization. (Wheelhouse 2016)
- 36% of companies with a strong Sales and Marketing alignment enjoy higher customer retention rates .
We have seen this first hand. While it is difficult to attribute exactly how much of our rapid growth is attributable to more closely aligned teams, better alignment has been one of the primary areas of focus for our teams making it a likely significant contributing factor.
Aligning sales and marketing can be challenging, but as you begin to see the signs of improved alignment, you will also begin to see the signs of growth.