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Your company's sales and marketing teams have more in common than you think. Both departments are working towards bringing in new leads, closing leads, and scaling revenue. Unfortunately, many companies run into a scenario where these two teams are butting heads on what content, offers, and tactics should be used to increase prospects ready to buy services or products.

What your teams need is to become realigned. By understanding that sales and marketing have the same end goal, these teams can increase collaboration on truly great strategies. Your sales team can offer insight about frequently asked questions, pain points, and what should be considered a qualified lead, while your marketing team can deliver insights about what content is being downloaded and interacted with. When these two specialties begin working together, the possibilities are endless. Watch this webinar from Todd Laire, marketing and sales alignment guru, for an in-depth lesson on aligning your teams. 

Watch our  "Marketing and Sales Alignment" webinar, or keep reading below for a full transcript:

Full Transcript

Speaker 1 [00:00:01] Hello, welcome to LAIRE! This is the marketing and sales alignment deck and presentation for marketing and sales teams to work together for maximum revenue growth. And we'll get started. My name is Todd Laire, I'm the CEO and managing partner of LAIRE Digital. We're a digital growth agency and we work with both marketing and sales teams to align into one team that we're going to talk a lot about throughout this presentation. You can follow me anywhere on social @toddlaire, as well as our Agency @lairedigital.

So marketing and sales teams traditionally have worked independently of each other. And with that comes a lot of chaos. And over the years, they realize that they are all working towards the same goal and that is growth-oriented. And so I like to think of marketing and sales teams really not being on two separate individual teams, but being on one team that is focused on revenue.

So marketing and sales teams unite. We all have the same goals. I work a lot on the sales and business development side at our agency and we have a phenomenal marketing team. We need info from each other constantly. So in addition to having a regular team meeting between marketing and sales, there's a lot of dialog and collaboration that needs to happen and does happen at a successful rate, where we can have one centralized view into the customer and ultimately everything that we do solves for the customer. So we do have the same goals increasing sales and growth, boosting revenue, and of course, reducing churn and turnover.

The consequence of misalignment is a disaster. For example, sales teams never use around sixty-five percent or more of the content that marketing works hard to produce and source and ultimately publish and promote because sales teams consider the topics irrelevant to their buyer, audience, or at least their perspective of what is important to the buyer. And so we're going to talk more about that later on as well. And of about seventy-nine percent of marketing leads, never convert due to marketing and sales not working together or ultimately failing to nurture those leads into productive conversations and sales opportunities. So lots, lots of work cut out for us.

The easiest way to align marketing and sales is to make both teams accountable for the same company goal, which is revenue growth and, love this quote by Marketo, and sales and marketing teams unite around a single revenue cycle. They dramatically improve marketing, return on investment, sales, productivity, and, most importantly, top-line growth. So how do we align marketing and sales and so there's a lot of steps to this, a lot of important points, but I've kind of condensed it down into really five key areas.

And one is understanding your customer and having a centralized view between marketing and sales, where it's a common view into what's important to this customer and what drives them, what pains that they have in their day to day lives or in their business or at their job, and ultimately working hard to solve and be helpful to those to those customers. So who are we marketing and selling to?

Once you create a set of buyer personas that both sales and marketing agree with, and that's the key they both agree on the majority of the identifiers that make up your buyer personas. You start enjoying the benefits that come with having a unified idea of what your buyers look like, at least from a demographic perspective, and also, most importantly, how they behave.

So you quickly learn how to gain a better understanding of your ideal customers. You're able to better prioritize leads. If one lead makes up more of the criteria of who you're looking to ultimately connect with, you're going to prioritize them at the top of your list. Determine where to focus your time and energy, develop relevant, timely content that is focused on what would be helpful, what would be valuable to them. Typically, they have a problem that they're looking to better identify maybe what that problem is, or they're identifying it based on symptoms that they're having.

Perhaps like I think of like a marketing manager who is managing a lot of their processes through an Excel spreadsheet. Think of all the problems that come along with that and what is a good solution. I think stop using Excel spreadsheet and start using a CRM, customer relationship management software tool.

So help them better identify, speak to those pains that they have with Excel and then start to recommend not only how they can navigate Excel better, but possibly look at alternatives or start considering alternatives like using an automated or online cloud-based system where more of their team has access to it. There's more transparency, more visibility. You mess up a formula or something and excel and it translates wrong, like how can we get out of this and use something that's a little bit more functional and efficient, overcome by our objections, understanding what those are.

Typically sales is going to know what those are. So empower marketing with those objections so that they can phrase the messaging and the content on the website and videos and instructional sheets that basically spells out all of those things so that the prospect that's coming in evaluating a solutions provider, sees that they can relate and they are speaking their language. And I think something else that's really helpful is also developing negative personas so sales knows who to sell to or who to talk to, but also what they should do to identify if it's a good fit or not and if they're not a good fit and obviously moving on from them and using the content to help better qualify leads as well.

So as an example, I included a few personas that we actually use at our agency who we talk to in the sales process, but then also going to working with you on the client server side. And I picked out a couple of examples here to focus on.

Marketing manager Molly is a great prospect of ours or persona that we have that I end up talking to a lot, as prospects, but also either business owner Owen, or CEO Sam, leader of a company charged with growing it and knows that marketing is vital and a lot of times too, either through an operations manager or somebody tasked with managing the business to some degree or a specific part of the company, whether it be strategy or operations or service, facilitator Fran kind of fills that role as somebody has been tasked with finding marketing solutions to help grow the company, even though they would say themselves that they are not a marketing expert, they just know they need it.

They have some ideas, but they're looking for help. So let's dive into marketing manager Molly. The industries we love primarily are B2B, business to business, selling style companies, the industries we focus within B2B are financial services or financial tech or fintech. We love manufacturing and industrial level companies, and then also software as a service or just plain technology as well. And then we do love working within construction, some B2C, but then also B2B construction. But really any B2B professional services style companies who we look for as our marketing managers are a part of those industries.

The roles that she or he has, whether it's marketing manager Molly or Matt, they're typically at a manager level, although we have engaged with some coordinators that are more or less managers. But it seems to be the sweet spot. It really is. Management level, mid-level, even director of marketing comes up. But we also have worked with VPs and CMS. But I would say between manager and VP is our sweet spot, what we see a lot of. So we built our persona around that.

And the summary is Molly or Matt is a marketing manager with a background and a passion in marketing. They are creative. They love to follow thought leaders. They're always looking for the next edge, latest content, latest shifts in the marketplace, trends. They are typically reporting to a VP level or C level individual, either the CEO, a lot of the times with a lot of companies we work with or possibly a VP of sales and marketing, where they're just working within the high-level reporting to the CEO. But this manager or director or VP is highly trusted to implement successful marketing campaigns for their company.

Often what we find is that marketing manager Molly is juggling many tasks like managing campaigns, managing reporting, managing technology, also pushing the buttons and moving the levers, like posting on social media, sending out emails, copywriting, like this person is an unsung hero within their company. And a lot of times what we find is that they get pulled in a lot of different directions and a lot of times it has very little to do with marketing.

And that's that really drives marketing manager Molly and Matt crazy, because they want they want to focus on what they were brought there to do. And that gives them the creative outlet that satisfies them and some demographics more times than not. It is a female, although we work with lots of men and women and I would say average age for the manager level is probably mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Where is director level and above are a little older, but I've seen a mix of all. So it's kind of just a general guide. It is their full-time career.

Usually, they are Department of One, so they are the entire marketing team. And I always say, I bet you're a department of one. And they just they laugh because they are and they've used that term or they'll have one other person in marketing with them, maybe an intern, maybe a coordinator level person who specializing on one particular area like copywriting or design that seems to be popular, either graphic design or some type of copywriting where the manager of that person is focusing on the other.

They are a trusted marketing contact, always trying to find new ways to increase leads, always communicating or updating the business owner or the CEO. Really focused on some metrics, although not a lot. Usually focused on things like website traffic and leads converting sometimes with paid media might get more granular, like cost per lead and things like that. So they love having conversations with us about broadening their KPIs because it just gives them more things to show value and report on to their senior-level leadership team.

Would love to be involved more in the overall marketing plan and strategy, but also has to manage tactics daily. And so sometimes strategy gets pushed to the side and they would love input on how to grow and free strategy, or they'd love to run strategy and they need help running the tactics. So some identifiers that we found is that they are engaged in their professional community.

They are in user groups, they are in associations, clubs, professional societies. They are active on LinkedIn, maybe not every single day. But I would say consistently on a weekly basis for networking, reading and sharing relevant articles. Sometimes they will share their company's posts, usually because they are the ones that created those posts. They take pride in their work, share company social posts through their personal account.

As I mentioned, here's their challenges that Molly does not have the capacity or budget to scale the business alone or with her current team. Maybe she's got a budget to hire somebody part-time or a lower-level entry-level person. And they know that they need more, they need more help. And typically they'll look towards a fractional CMO type help or consultant that can do something like run paid ads or copywriting, or they'll look towards an agency where they get leverage. They get more people, more of a team. They can work with them on different objectives and initiatives as well as deliverables. Loves to have an outside perspective. We have an offer on our site that's free.

That's a 20-minute marketing assessment. We get lots of marketing managers to apply for that just because they love the perspective of it. Maybe they were referred to us from a client or they found us through organic search on Google and see that offer. And it's just a breath of fresh air for them because they've been working in a silo or on their own without any input other than where's the next lead going to come from. She knows that she needs to or he needs to better align with sales, but it is harder than it should be.

And sometimes what that entails is having an expert from afar, somebody outside of the organization, like a consultant or an agency talking with sales independently, then talking with marketing independently and then combining the two teams into one room, or virtually in a zoom room, to pull them together and start working on better collaboration. So having a value proposition for your persona is critical.

So now that we know all this about our persona, what do we say to them that is going to just ignite them and want them to engage with us knowing that we know the challenges they deal with on a day-to-day basis? And why should they reach out to us? And more importantly, why should they reach out now?

So having a solid value prop that talks about your persona as them instead of spending all that time talking about the company or you or what you can do and really framing that and how you can complement them and help them with their challenges. So designing a content strategy around knowing what your goals and objectives are or your personas, goals, and objectives are, what their stumbling blocks are. This is the type of content that they're going online to look for and would love to find it on your site if you can answer their key questions.

So we know that typically between either design or content, that's a big objective of our persona in the marketing area. So the solution is content marketing. They can get helpful, valuable resources from us to learn how to do a better job or all the way down the funnel they can hire us to help them do it. So what keywords do we want to keep in mind when we're creating these topics that address that particular pain point? And you'll see an example here and then, of course, blog topics that take those keywords and incorporate them into the titles and then throughout the body of the content piece as well.

Now, really important, we don't just write content to write content. We're writing it to bring in traffic, but we want to convert that traffic into leads. So we have downloadable offers that are part of campaigns sprinkled throughout. All of the written content through blogs to enable those that read it and want a deeper dive into that particular subject, to convert on a workbook or a guidebook, or an ebook, or a checklist, or something of that nature. So you'll see we've got blog topics, but then we also have conversion offers that are paired with those topics so that we can convert our traffic into more qualified leads.

So not only do we need to understand who our ideal buyer is, but we also need to understand intimately the path that they go on to ultimately make a decision to hire your company or buy your product or try your service or subscribe to your technology. So what is that?

In between marketing and sales teams, it can be very different. Marketing has a generalized view of the journey that their ideal buyer goes through. Where a lead starts at what's called an awareness stage, so they're trying to better understand the problem that they're experiencing.

So like I mentioned, with content marketing that is attached to a problem of, you know, we have this website, it's just sitting here. If it could be an amazing tool, but we don't get very much traffic and we hardly get any leads. So we need to put out more content to attract more people on our website. So content marketing is website traffic is my problem, content marketing is probably a solution.

So that would be that they understand that problem and then the consideration stage is OK, I need a content strategy and I need content marketing and I need content production. How am I going to do it? I need to research different options to solve this problem. And then so the helpful content would be comparison type guides versus, you know, and do you write it in-house? Do you hire a copywriter or do you hire a consultant? Do you hire an agency? Like what?

What's the best fit for me at my company based on what I'm trying to do and then the decision stages, I know what my problem is. I know the solution. I want to I want to employ. And then how do I make a decision based on the solution I've picked? And those are things like questions to ask an agency before you hire them, or questions to ask a deck builder before you hire them to build a deck, and so on. So you need to have content and things for people to do at different stages of the buyer journey that they go on.

So here's an example of content that we have on our website that helps move our ideal buyers down the proverbial funnel if you will. So one is six blog templates. So they know they need content marketing, they're looking for some ideas. This is a great place to start. Or maybe they're not sure about content marketing, but they know the website is an issue.

And the twenty-five website must-have guidebook is a great guide to help you consider all the different things that you need to have on your website, one of which is a content resource, but again helps them understand and be more aware of how they can enhance or grow their business or enhance their life or their job by going down that path. And then more of kind of what a consideration, stage or even decision stage type offers like, OK, budget, let's talk budget.

You're going to need resources, resources cost money. What are we looking at here? And so that's a great guidebook. Even have for a sales conversation. A lot of times this idea came from sales conversations that we have where we're talking to somebody that knows they need a new website, needs content marketing help, wants to run paid ads. And an natural question is, have you created a budget yet for this? And more times than not, that's where we start. Like they don't. And they are talking to agencies and consultants to get an idea of what a budget would look like, how much does it cost. And then I can create my budget around that.

So we've got a guidebook that helps them with that. And ideally, they use that guide book before they ever talk to us. And then we can have a really good sound conversation with them based on what they've learned on how to build a budget and ultimately get approval to deploy it. So with sales, their path that they feel their prospects on are probably a little different because maybe it's more of an external approach where they've got to go and find them, where with marketing, utilizing kind of that awareness, consideration and decision stage process, it's more of an inbound approach where they're attracting the ideal clients or customers to them or sales.

Feels like we've got to have a set process that we can follow in case those leads don't come in. And that's OK, too. What I like to do is arm sales with content and conversion points for those different stages. So with prospects, what type of content, what kind of approach are you using when it comes to prospecting? And how can marketing assist? What makes a good lead?

Just a regular subscriber on your blog is just a lead. They may not be what's considered a marketing-qualified lead because they haven't expressed any specific interest yet. But then when somebody has and they've downloaded like that website must-haves guidebook, then I know that's a marketing qualified lead and they probably would like more website related content.

Sales qualified lead is somebody that has indicated that I'd like to learn more about what it takes and how much it costs to have a new website built. That doesn't mean that I'm interested in working with you at your agency, but I would like to have a conversation to learn more. And sometimes that conversation can come from them learning more through the content that we have for that buyer at that stage that they're currently in.

And then we go to a meeting, some type of meeting or a demo, if it's a like software or software as a service or showing technology, typically that's kind of a first step or free demo or a free account to try it out or just a general consultation. And then if you've got somebody interested, they want a proposal.

So throughout this, there should be automation in place. There should be content that is helpful for the buyer to make an informed decision. And this is where marketing and sales teams really can collaborate to score more wins ultimately.

So, as you can imagine, marketing teams and sales teams that look at the buyer journey in these two different ways are likely to be at odds with each other. They are unlikely to create content that aligns with what buyers actually need. The solution is for sales and marketing teams to sit down together to create one buyer journey, work off of an agreed-upon buyer persona or two.

I think one to two is a good start that reflects the reality that they both see. There's going to be some crossover, and that's where collaboration is key, that they both have this the centralized view and what it takes to create win, land, and then ultimately service a customer and then document each stage so that the buyer and the marketing and sales teams know how to collaborate with each other at those different stages, because what marketing needs from sales is an update on the leads they're sending them. Are these good leads? Do we need to nurture them? And what sales needs from marketing is more leads that are qualified, that have taken steps to qualify themselves.

So that's where documentation really can come in handy, documenting the process of when marketing hands off qualified leads to sales, and then what sales' obligation is to report back to marketing the updates and the latest news with the leads that are being sent to them.

And then, like I mentioned before, what gets measured, gets done and what gets done leads to success. So having key performance indicators that are jointly created between marketing and sales, we also call them KPIs for short. So what are we measuring together? Review or set KPIs, both in terms of the metric used and the target set to ensure they don't become counterproductive once your teams are aligned.

For example, setting an MQL target for marketing without considering the impact on sales can lead to problems. A very high marketing qualified lead target might result in marketing upping lead scores, and passing more but less qualified leads to sales and marketing may reach its target while the sales conversion rate goes down because they're not qualified. We just ran into this where we're running a campaign and we're getting more exposure and the cost per lead is a lot less, but the quality is a lot less as well. So looks good on paper, not translating into anything meaningful. So what do we do?

So we up the ante on more targeted specific campaigns going to a specific function, a specific problem. We're trying to help maybe one or two specific job rules solve. And so with that, the exposure is less, but the quality of lead is so much higher, and with that comes cost. So there's got to be some calculated risk being made there to ultimately generate more qualified and meaningful conversations. So the best way to set KPI targets is to review current conversion rates across the whole funnel and work backwards, calculating OK from closing a customer, how many conversations do we need to have in order to close a customer, like demos or proposals sent?

And then of that number, how many sales-qualified leads that we need to generate to get to the proposal stage or advance demo stage and so on. And then of the SQLs, how many marketing-qualified leads do we need to have to interact with our content and coming back to our website and of that? And how much traffic do we need to generate in order to get to that number? And then how do we generate traffic, more content in paid media, doing more with email, more outreach, influencer marketing, and so on. So that'll give you an idea of how to align tactics and then what you can work on together as this new team focused on revenue can do.

So, keeping sales and marketing messages consistent. So what is sales using? A lot of the best input that marketing can use comes from sales. Like what kind of questions do you get over and over and over again in the sales process that we can turn around and put that on our website and save you that time where you can have more in-depth, valuable conversations with a sales qualified lead because they've got a lot of their questions answered from the website.

So connect communications to buyer value, not features. So tapping into customer insights is extremely effective, particularly for B2B technology companies and just B2B in general. Many companies are strongly attached to the features and specifications that they feel are valuable for messaging, not the areas that the actual buyer value. So look at these examples here. The most successful tech and Internet of Things companies sell their buyers on perceived value, not specific features. Consider IBM's emotional tagline taken from their website's homepage, "fly higher while the rest of your industry figures out how to take off".

Man, that's inspiring. And Cisco's product positioning is also compelling, even though it avoids mention of features. "Unlock the power of the involved mobile Internet", because that's where everybody is. That's where your customers are. So how can you unlock the power of that evolution? So, again, you're attaching an emotional value to the messaging and not just focused on we have the best customer service and we have the most up time with our product and we have the best guarantee in the industry. Those are all features.

And can your competitors say the same thing? Pretty much so. How can we go above and beyond stand out? So position your communications for the buyers actual needs of back to that pain points, understanding what they're trying to accomplish, what what type of breakthroughs they're trying to make. You must take a step backwards to see your value proposition. So again, how do we speak to them about them, concerning them and bring value into the connection between us and them?

This is first and foremost, you must take a step backwards, see your value. This is because when you get too attached to your most exciting features, you can have trouble separating yourself from the overarching impact your company provides true value values, often sentimental or even philosophical. So consider these two statements. ABC service has an easy-to-use interface, doesn't have customization options and great support that, like I mentioned earlier, or get peace of mind with comprehensive end-to-end data security, scale your security as you scale your business. One hundred percent guarantee which one is more compelling.

The latter statement clearly answers the question what's in it for me? Peace of mind is a compelling concept and it triggers an emotional response. Easy user interface is just a nice feature, and features don't move buyers to make decisions. So as you craft your communication strategy, consider this. A list of features will make you more susceptible to competitors. Then you get into a price war and nobody wants that, attach your product to value. And that value is emotional. It comes from within.

Features are easily comparable across brands and don't provide a purchase incentive. Peel back a more objective view by taking these steps. Talk to your happy customers. Why do they like you? What peace of mind do you bring to them? Analyze customer testimonials and conduct persona interviews.

So we do a lot of that at our agency and we talk to our clients and customers, and they tell us things they wouldn't tell our client. They really take that time to say a lot of great things and then also some really constructive, critical things that we can use to help make our clients even better. Communicate well and often between marketing and sales, so don't wait for the meeting to collaborate, talk through Slack, talk through Zoom, pick up the phone text.

I love when we get a lead in. I love letting marketing know and as well as tell sales like this is a new type of customer that we're looking at here or I'm seeing a trend. We all get excited about that. I think I love sharing when we've closed a new customer across the whole team because marketing was involved in getting that lead through the door. And they should know, but they should also know in progress, because I think if anything, it affirms the mission that we're all on together, growing the business and growing the revenues.

So I feel strongly that both teams will have a lot to offer one another. And joint meeting should, however, be based on clear definitions of accountability so the attendees can focus on sharing information and avoid treading on each other's areas.

So with that, communicate often and frequently and share the success stories that are out there. A lot of times marketing has no idea the testimonials that sales hears or service hears, and marketing and sales both can use that content in that testimonial or those reviews or even case studies or use cases in the marketing and sales and prospecting phases of the business. So hopefully that was helpful and that will help you better align your marketing and sales teams into one team that's focused on revenue.

And again, my name's Todd Laire, owner and managing partner of LAIRE Digital. My handles are @toddlaire and @lairedigital. We can help with content strategy. We can help align marketing and sales together. We can help redesign and develop your website into a lead generation and lead conversion machine. We can also work with sales teams.

I run a few engagements where I work at the business development representative level and help coach them, help them prospect their ideal clients. We're working off of buyer persona matrixes so that they know who they should be targeting. And it's super fun and the results are abound because of the work that we do together, because we know when marketing and sales are aligned, it's a powerful thing. So thank you so much for sitting in on this and hope you've got a lot of value and love to hear from you if you did. Have a great one.

Marketing + Sales MisAlignment



Todd Laire

Todd Laire

B2B Sales and Marketing Leader | CEO at LAIRE, a Digital Growth Agency - Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Marketer, Sales Team Builder, and Change Advocate.