Enterprise companies have come to rely on sales and marketing to drive innovation across organizations, which has compelled the two departments to work together more closely than ever before. Because sales and marketing teams haven’t always seen eye to eye, however, efforts to align them are often complicated.

Aligning sales and marketing teams isn’t easy. But when those disjointed efforts are connected by data and clear communication at the leadership level, companies of any size can build a consistent and reliable sales process, as well as craft a better customer experience. These two outcomes can result in a faster sales cycle, more closed deals and longer customer relationships.

Why data has become the unifier between sales and marketing

Despite the robust marketing technology market and the rapidly growing sales technology space, the gaps between sales and marketing systems remain. It’s a reality that creates friction in the buying experience, contributes to an inconsistent and inefficient sales process and costs companies deals.

Those gaps don’t just impact sales; they impact marketing as well. With marketers being saddled with the responsibilities of sales, tech or even finance executives, the traditional attributes of marketers—creativity, ability to craft and identify trends—are stifled. It’s a problem for creatives whose core job functions are being crowded out by more administrative tasks.

Marketers don’t want to be told how to think or how to use marketing technology. According to Sean Brady, president of the Americas for marketing company Emarsys, larger companies need to take the lead in disrupting sales and marketing tech. “There’s going to be disruption,” he said. “You have these big companies that were not marketing-focused to begin with acquiring marketing technologies. But they expect the marketing customers to engage with them the same way the rest of their portfolio engages with them.” A positive customer experience begins with the team members who serve those customers—that means providing departments with overall guidelines but allowing for autonomy as well

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Sales and marketing teams must also align their goals to ensure all viable opportunities in a pipeline are pursued both aggressively and consistently. Leveraging marketing and sales data can enable sales leaders to broaden their view of the sales pipeline and gain insight into every aspect of the process, from high-level team progress to individual team member and deal progress. Applying data-driven knowledge can also help craft marketing content and messaging to attract the right buyers at the right time.

Using data to influence the customer experience

As customer experience continues to become the centre of the sales process, the efforts of an aligned sales and marketing team are more important than ever. When sales and marketing employ data to help them personalize customer experience throughout the sales cycle, a company’s efforts are more effective.

According to a recent Forrester study, marketing automation software contributes 44% of the sales pipeline via marketing programs, compared to 34% from companies without it. If a company’s sales tech stack isn’t optimized to accommodate and leverage data from its marketing tech stack, the existing gaps between sales and marketing will only widen. Investing in tech and processes that use prospect data gives sales and marketing teams the power to deliver value with every interaction.

Marketing automation software does more than just bridge the gap between demand generation and the handoff to sales; it offers valuable information that enables marketers to guide buyers – and the salespeople who serve them – further into the sales process. Benchmarking performance across shared sales and marketing metrics also ensures that the overall sales process is both effective and efficient.

Using customer intelligence to help guide departments

Although data will ultimately serve as the glue that holds sales and marketing together, it’s customer intelligence that will help the two teams work together seamlessly. Using prospect and customer data to inform companies on customer behavior makes it easier to personalize the sales and post-sale process and build long-term customer loyalty. But consistency is key: making customer intelligence an integral element of a sales and marketing platform is critical.

Another purpose of using data and technology in sales and marketing is to help companies forecast the benefits of spending revenue. When determining which tech to choose, sales and marketing leaders must work together to answer the following questions:
How do our customers engage with our products and on which platforms?

  • Should advertising budget be moved to customer growth and retention?
  • Which customers are spending and how are they spending? How can we get our existing customers to move to the next level of monetary value?

Answering these questions allows sales and marketing leaders to create a shared roadmap that guides both prospect efforts and the target buyer journey.

While the battle between sales and marketing persists, engaging leadership in both teams and using data and analytics to create a common sales and marketing process will make it easier for team members to adopt the technology and techniques necessary to exceed customer expectations. It’s up to sales and marketing to work together and improve customer experience—that’s the most effective way to maintain a healthy business.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Sharmin Kent

Sharmin Kent is the content and communications manager at TinderBox. Find her on Twitter at @STMKent.