Despite assumptions to the contrary, establishing and maintaining a company’s brand and messaging is not solely the responsibility of the marketing department. In today’s digital, multi-touchpoint world, the customer journey has evolved to cover much more territory. The path from awareness to purchase also contains many twists and turns. This makes creating alignment between sales and marketing (as well as the rest of your organization) more critical than ever.
Your brand messaging and the promise you make to your customers must be consistent, clear, and accurately represent something your entire organization can deliver. From first touch to close, each member of your team needs to tell the same story. Whether a customer is reading material generated by the marketing team, talking to a salesperson, or interacting with product support, the entire experience should be cohesive and seamless. The customer should, in essence, always feel like they are talking to the same person. Though it may seem like a small thing, continuity and brand consistency across the different stages of the customer journey go a long way toward establishing trust.
While maintaining messaging and brand consistency across all touchpoints is no small undertaking, the effort is worth it. Studies have shown that cross-functional alignment (such as between marketing and sales) can be directly tied to revenue growth – as much as 36 percent – for B2B companies.
The formula for alignment has three ingredients: inclusiveness, consistency, and evaluation. The following three steps will get your teams closer to true alignment and collaboration.
Step 1: Integrate Salespeople Into the Brand Conversation
You can’t create sales-marketing alignment unless you’re willing to include everyone in the conversation. While marketing takes the lead on defining and articulating brand messaging, they need to consider the input of other team members on the sales and product side of things. Market and audience research are key to developing a standout brand, but the insights that plugged-in salespeople and in-the-trenches product managers can deliver are equally as important. Make sure everyone gets a seat at the table.
Step 2: Ensure Consistency of Sales Cycle Assets
To ensure your team can deliver a consistent (from customer to customer and touch point to touch point) customer experience, it’s crucial to make sure each person has the same set of tools. Identify the key assets used for each stage of your sales cycle and work with a cross-functional team to make sure that all documents are consistent in terms of content, presentation, and purpose. Standardizing documents and automating the process will help increase efficiency while also protecting brand integrity.
Step 3: Evaluate and Adjust Alignment Regularly
Finally, accept that sales-marketing alignment is not a “set it and forget it” task. Half the battle with alignment, once you’ve achieved it, is maintaining it. Check in with all your functional teams on a regular basis. Find out what’s working and what’s not, where the system is breaking down, and where you might have additional opportunities to strengthen the brand experience.
Sales-marketing alignment is a cyclical process. It starts and ends with an open dialog between different functional roles. This is a task that may never be “done,” but it’s one that will deliver a great return on the investment of effort over the long-term.