From jargon-y terms like ‘smarketing’ to industry articles and presentations at conferences, the secret is out about the need for sales and marketing to work together. With the introduction of digital over the past two decades, it has become even more important for sales and marketing to provide a unified front. To be ‘on brand’ in front of the customer, whether that’s digitally or in person. But knowing the importance of something and understanding how to implement it into your business are two very different things.
There are a few things you need to do in order to encourage collaboration between departments. And while it’s important for sales and marketing to work together, IT needs to be involved in that process as well. Having these three departments working together seamlessly will help make your operation more efficient, and will make the lives of your employees exponentially easier.
So, how do you make that happen? Follow these 5 steps and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Identify your customer.
You can’t possibly be effective as a business if you don’t understand your customer. This is especially true when you’re trying to create an integrated team -- it never hurts to get everyone on the same page. Marketers often develop personas to describe who they’re targeting. Salespeople often have a lot of real world experience with these customers and know them on a different level. IT understands their behavior patterns, and the technology it will take to serve them effectively.
Think about who your customer is from the point of view of each of these departments, and you’ll get a holistic view of your audience. Aside from the obvious “who are they?”, some key questions are: What do they want? What keeps them up at night? What are they looking for when they’re reaching out to you, and throughout the buying process?
2. Craft an effective brand voice.
Now that everyone is on the same page about who they’re trying to reach, it’s time to put some thought into how you want to represent your brand in these conversations. Each department may have a different point of view on what the most important traits of your brand are. Putting your heads together could wield some surprising results. Maybe your IT department feels like innovation is an important aspect of your brand voice, and sales errs more to the side of education. Putting these ideas together will give you a well rounded brand voice that everyone can get behind.
Some key questions to ask are: What is the goal behind our communication strategy? How do we want to position ourselves within our industry? What tone of voice will most effectively reach our target audience, what do they want to hear?
3. Create a cohesive experience across channels.
This is one of the most important aspects of this whole process. Once you’ve identified who your customer is, and what your brand voice is, it’s time to make sure all your assets are in alignment accordingly. This means all branded content; like email campaigns and signature blocks, brochures and sales materials, packaging, phone scripts, and automated phone menus to name a few. It also means your digital presence. Does your website have the right messaging for your audience in the right voice? Are you trying to convey efficiency and simplicity, but your website isn’t user friendly? Make sure that your customers’ experience accurately reflects these principles at every touch point.
Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook the simple things when you have a task this big. So, this is a special reminder: Don’t forget to make sure your sales and marketing materials -- like documents, presentations, etc. -- are on brand. Make sure everyone has the right versions of everything and easy access to them when needed. Many organizations struggle with managing presentations and keeping materials up to date, but there are tools available today that can ensure sales always has the right information at their fingertips. If your sales force is using mobile or tablets, check out Modus.
Some key questions you may want to ask are: Does this asset match our overall brand voice? Is it consistent with our other assets? Is this what our audience is looking for, in terms of content and experience?
4. Develop a plan of action.
Once you’ve identified everything that you need in order to create a functional strategy, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to make everything work. If you’ve ever been in the middle of a discussion between sales and marketing, marketing and IT, etc., you know that each department has its own way of handling certain things. And these processes don’t always line up. So first, start with what is going to work for each department, and work backwards. Having a common goal always makes hammering out the details easier.
Once you know how your plan will work, you need to determine roles and responsibilities to keep everything running smoothly in the future. Some key questions to ask are: Who is going to take care of maintenance, governance, etc.? Who is responsible for communicating with whom? What channels are the most effective?
5. Implement and optimize.
Once everyone is on the same page, it’s time to bring in the rest of your sales, marketing and IT teams. A well crafted strategy will leave little room for confusion. Any pain points you discover along the way can easily be solved with the new communication standards that you will have developed. You also should have the option to use a trial version of any new technology or platforms you may be using, so that you can better understand how it will work before you roll it out throughout the organization.
Once implemented, take time to look back and see what worked and what needs to be improved. Learning from your success and your mistakes is what makes great leaders great. Never stop perfecting and optimizing your collaboration strategy, encourage feedback and you’ll have a happy team.