For over 20 years, “sales and marketing alignment” has been a buzzy term in business. But today, alignment of these two teams - sales and marketing - may not be enough as it doesn’t capture the richness of the modern B2B marketplace.
Business customers have come to demand an extremely high level of interaction from their partners and vendors. Technology has reshaped everyone’s expectations. There’s now a third crucial element in aligning business goals: service.
The trifecta of sales-marketing-service brings all of your customer-facing teams into alignment and unifies your business.
A unified business is a business that has a customer-centric strategy. Each member of the organization, and especially those in the sales, marketing, and service teams understand how their function affects the customer experience. Additionally, customer-facing teams (sales, marketing, and service) develop internal service-level agreements (SLAs) to ensure their goals are aligned, they understand how they play a part in the company meeting their overall shared goals, as well as what is required to ensure customer success.
Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be a unified business and how to make alignment a priority at your company.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
First, let’s examine sales and marketing. Although they seem similar from an outsider’s point of view, they’re actually quite different. Sometimes they even have opposing goals and it’s common to have friction between the sales and marketing teams.
For example, the marketing department might decide to promote a specific service that has broad appeal to its target audience. Meanwhile, the sales team actively resist mentioning the same service to prospects as they have inside knowledge of its low-profit margins and problematic execution.
In this situation, marketing believes they’ve done a great job exceeding their lead generation goals, leads that the sales team are refusing to act on. And, the sales team sees low-value and low-priority leads that will take time away from high-value prospecting and result in lower revenue generation, possibly causing them to miss their quotas. Both teams have good intentions at heart, but they have opposing goals.
Sales and Service Alignment
Just like sales and marketing, sales and service teams are often misaligned. The friction between them is often a result of disagreement over how to solve customers’ problems as well as how that solution implementation should take.
Sales reps goals are typically about how many deals they can close, while customer service reps are tasked with providing the services after the sale. When customers receive conflicting messages between sales and service departments trust can be depleted and the customer experience becomes less positive and can cause the loss of a client.
Marketing and Service Alignment
The explosion of social media has made the alignment of Marketing and Service teams critical. When people first started experimenting with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social platforms receiving marketing messages seemed almost novel and welcomed. But like all new mediums, eventually, the novelty wears off and user behaviour changes. Today social media is primarily used by businesses for brand and culture development and service.
According to a study by Aberdeen, companies that align Service and Marketing teams end up with customers who are more satisfied and loyal.
Sales, Marketing, and Service Alignment
Finally, let’s look at what happens with the trio comes together: sales, marketing, and service. Getting all three teams into alignment is surprisingly tricky, in part because customers don’t trust any of them.
A study from HubSpot found that sales, marketing, and customer service workers were among the least trusted professionals - just above car salespeople, politicians, and lobbyists.
Fortunately, your customers DO trust your other customers (referrals and word-of-mouth). So it’s imperative that every action to develop a consistently positive customer experience be taken. This includes ensuring the goals of your customer-facing teams are aligned. Alignment reduces friction in the customer experience. It helps to eliminate those unproductive and counter-intuitive tactics that are great for one team but make it more difficult for each team to meet their individual goals.
Technology can help your teams stay aligned. Platforms that provide a shared view of the customer journey, like HubSpot, help your teams by providing them with a complete picture of all prospect and customer interactions
But technology can’t do the hard work of actually aligning your teams to become a unified business. Start with a commitment from the top and get representatives from all three teams together so you can:
- analyze existing data to determine who your best customers are
- develop personas for your best customers that provide a common company-wide understanding of their typical behaviours, preferences and dislikes
- agree upon shared company goals as well as supportive departmental goals
- identify when it’s the right team for another team to take the lead and how to effectively handle the handoff
- develop SLAs for all teams so they understand how they can support the efforts of the other teams
- have regular status meetings that bring all three teams together again to review progress and fine-tune plans as needed.