Your Ultimate Guide to Sales & Marketing Alignment
Your sales and marketing teams have two key roles: attracting new customers and developing relationships with your existing customers. The goal of both of these functions is to increase your revenue. However, these teams need to work in tandem to be successful.
Ensuring that your marketing and sales teams are aligned is incredibly important to the success of your company. In this guide, we explore some of the common challenges and benefits of sales and marketing alignment and how your teams can successfully collaborate.
Common Challenges When Distributing Brand and Marketing Collateral
Even though distributed marketing allows for a consistent, localized approach to engaging audiences at all levels, brands will often encounter roadblocks. They need to maintain brand consistency across a distributed network and manage marketing collateral and inventory, but they may lack reporting tools and have slow and inefficient processes. Let’s explore these common challenges and some solutions to help you effectively navigate them.
Maintaining Consistency Across a Distributed Network
Consistency is one of the most frequent problems experienced among distributed organizations. Companies often have to find the balance between their overall brand voice and the local voice of smaller communities or the needs of sales teams in specific markets. Additionally, customers often expect personalized messaging.
Combine all of these elements, and it can be hard to juggle all of these considerations while maintaining a unified message that accurately reflects your brand. However, brand consistency builds trust, and trust is essential to maintaining customer loyalty. When your brand has different messages or an inconsistent look, it can make your company seem disorganized. This can result in customers losing interest in your brand.
The Solution: Making Consistency Simple
Style guides are an essential part of maintaining consistency. Your style guide should encompass all parts of your brand—fonts, colors, voice, and tone of your messaging—and how you and others should and shouldn’t use your logo and other brand assets. Pay attention to the copy and design of your collateral, color palette, and your voice and tone messaging preferences to reach your target audience.
This will help ensure consistency across all forms of your marketing assets, including promotional materials, apparel, digital media, signage, and print materials. It will also help tie your local and national advertising together, so even if there are small ways that your assets deviate, they will still point to your overall brand.
Once you’ve created your style guide, it’s essential to house it in a single centralized platform that all of your teams can access. This platform will help streamline your marketing strategy and house all of your marketing collateral and guidelines in one easily accessible location, while helping you track marketing spend and ROI.
Managing Marketing Collateral
You create multiple pieces of marketing collateral for each campaign and each stage of the buyer’s journey. These pieces, from e-books to infographics to sales sheets and more, can really pile up, resulting in materials going unused or getting lost.
As your campaigns and assets accumulate , it can be confusing and frustrating to sift through multiple folders or servers to determine where assets are stored. Operating in this way may also prevent the brand owner from managing who has access to what assets, especially if permission isn’t needed to access where those assets are stored. It may also mean that your teams don’t have what they need to be successful and help your brand grow.
The Solution: Housing All of Your Assets in One Platform
Keeping your assets organized is crucial to your marketing strategy. First, it’s essential to audit your assets. Find out what you have, if there are duplicates of any assets, and then categorize your collateral.
Once you’ve finished your audit, house all of your marketing assets in a single centralized platform. This platform will help you keep your assets organized so your distributed teams can easily access them. Keeping your style guides and brand books in this platform will also help ensure your assets align with your brand guidelines.
Robust reporting tools are also beneficial for keeping your assets organized because you’ll have the data behind what assets are working and which aren’t, enabling you to eliminate the assets that you aren’t using.
Managing your physical marketing materials presents many challenges. Materials of all sizes and shapes take up physical space in your warehouse or office. Additionally, these materials can get disorganized quickly due to overcrowding, resulting in difficulty finding what you need. It may also make it difficult to keep everything current, as outdated materials can hang around if someone isn’t specifically managing their storage.
On top of these challenges, it can be stressful to not have the inventory available to fulfill an order or have visibility into if your product levels are high or low.
The Solution: Streamlined Inventory and Fulfillment Operations
Streamline your operations and coordinate them with other aspects of fulfillment, including order management, packing, and distribution. With the right partner, you’ll have visibility into your inventory levels and receive alerts when your inventory is running low.
When you take advantage of a brand management platform that’s streamlined with other areas of fulfillment, your assets are always ready to be ordered, and you can mail orders 24/7. The right shipping partner also has the experience to keep your shipping costs low, so you can focus your marketing efforts on other parts of your business.
Lacking Reporting Tools
Too many resources go into creating marketing assets for your teams to merely hope they work. Without the right reporting tools, you don’t have insights into what marketing assets are truly working for your sales teams, and you may be wasting resources by pulling together reports from different systems or even your local marketing teams to try to put together a cohesive picture of your campaign.
Additionally, you’ll lack an understanding of which assets are underused, who is ordering what assets, and how often. Without this information, you won’t have an understanding of what your most effective marketing campaigns are, resulting in difficulty budgeting and planning marketing campaigns the following year.
The Solution: Using Robust Reporting Tools
A platform with robust reporting capabilities and a user-friendly dashboard will enable you to see what assets are being used and by whom. You can then compare this information to sales figures to see what collateral performs the best. Your marketing teams will then be able to craft content that aligns with this type of collateral.
With the right reporting tools, you’ll also receive real-time reports directly to your email or be able to log in to a dashboard for real-time data. You’ll gain full insights into the effectiveness of your campaign on the schedule you choose while having clear information on what’s happening at your local level. You can then use these insights to improve your corporate marketing strategy.
Having Slow and Inefficient Processes
Slow or inefficient updates and changes to marketing collateral combined with a lack of clear communication can lead to a lot of unnecessary steps—and a lot of extra time. Without a clear strategy, these updates can take a long time to make their way to your local branches.
Not only is this wasted time, but it can also mean local branches taking things into their own hands, resulting in messaging that doesn’t align with your corporate messaging. This can also increase costs because the local teams may not be able to secure funds for the small run of an item at the same pricing the company negotiated at the brand or national level.
The Solution: Automated Approval Processes
To help operations run smoother, implement automated approval processes via a centralized platform. When you centralize everything, all of your collateral is under one roof, and changes don’t take as long to implement.
When you’re deciding what to automate, start by choosing time-consuming, simple, or repetitive tasks. Decide who, and at what level, has permission to change or approve assets and spend what amount of the budget. Locking marketing collateral templates can also help improve approval workflows by avoiding additional approval steps. This can help your local branches customize materials when needed while ensuring that your branding stays consistent.
How Marketing Can Support Sales
Marketing and sales are two separate teams, but their goals are the same. They each want to be successful, and they want to help grow your brand.
However, they won’t be nearly as successful if each team is working separately in a silo. Therefore, it makes sense that creating a strong connection between your sales and marketing teams is essential to ensure the continued success of your brand. Let’s take a look at how your marketing team can support sales.
Open Communication Between Your Teams
To have successful collaboration between your sales and marketing teams, the teams need to be communicating openly. Your sales team has essential information that can help your marketing team optimize content.
For example, your sales reps know the typical questions and objections of prospects. When they share this information with your marketing team, marketing can analyze the prospects’ pain points and develop content that addresses these points and speaks to these questions, ensuring a more successful sales experience.
Your sales reps also know which collateral isn’t hitting the mark. When they share this information with your marketing team members, they can optimize content and create collateral that’s high performing (or more compelling).
Personas are profiles of ideal consumers for your product or service. They include specific information such as pain points, needs, and demographics. This information gives insights to your marketing teams so they can create collateral tailored to these personas. It also helps your sales teams know what the ideal consumer is like and what they’re looking for.
Without information on the ideal consumer, your sales reps can be lost because they don’t have information on the ideal prospect or even where to find them. And this is obvious to prospects as well.
For example, research by Forrester in 2014 found that 75 percent of buyers didn’t think salespeople understood their specific business—a number that has almost certainly gotten worse as customer expectations have risen. This is a huge problem because how a salesperson interacts with a prospect can be a differentiator between companies. If a prospect feels like a salesperson doesn’t understand their role or pain points, it can make them highly unlikely to convert and become a customer.
Content for All Stages of the Buyer Journey
Your sales team should have access to many different pieces of marketing collateral, such as e-books, infographics, white papers, and more. By having a full, organized suite of materials available for your sales team, they have effective content for each stage of the sales process.
Your marketing team can also create template materials that your sales team can customize as needed to avoid lengthy approval processes. To ensure greater efficiency throughout this process, store these materials in a centralized platform where all teams can quickly and easily access all assets and update them as necessary.
Why it’s Important to Measure What Matters
Without robust reporting tools as a part of your marketing strategy, you’re doing your business a disservice. Think about it: You’re missing out on understanding what delivers the highest ROI and what collateral is engaging your sales reps and, ultimately, your target customers. By knowing what matters most to your prospects and sales reps, you’re getting a wealth of information about product utilization, budgeting, and engagement.
What You Should Measure
First, let’s examine what you should be measuring.
Where Your Cash Is Tied Up
You need to make the most of your budget each year, which means it’s essential to evaluate what’s tying up your money. For example, products that have been sitting on the shelves for a long time are dead revenue. They haven’t moved off the shelves, and you aren’t seeing the revenue from them. It’s likely time to donate or destroy them.
Additionally, it’s critical to understand how much of your budget you’re spending on other facets of your operations, such as trade shows. A lot gets tied up in trade shows—from people hours, to shipping costs, to the booth and everything that goes in it, such as tablecloths, banners, brochures, and giveaways—and that’s just a small picture of what’s needed. It’s critical to understand the cost of all of these materials and how cost translates into leads netted from the trade show. If the value of these leads doesn’t justify the costs spent on the event, you’ll need to alter your budget for a better ROI.
Marketing Collateral Utilization
A storefront with robust reporting capabilities will give you insights into what’s being utilized, how, and when, which is valuable for your budget and creative team. You can use this information to determine what collateral is working, how it translates to your sales figures, and what materials your high-performing sales reps are using. Knowing your collateral utilization is essential for building your budget in the future and understanding which collateral pieces are tied to the highest ROI.
Why You Should Measure It
Now that you know what to measure, let’s explore why you should measure it.
Amplified Sales Impact
With the right tools, your leaders will have the data to determine the relationship between what collateral sales teams use and how that reflects in sales performance. With this information, you’re able to drill into what materials are the most impactful.
This information can then be relayed to your marketing and sales teams so that they’re better able to collaborate on assets that have the highest impact. According to a 2020 study, 67 percent of respondents to a survey stated that they relied on content to inform their buying decisions more than they did the previous year, illustrating the importance of creating collateral that addresses prospect needs and makes the highest impact.
Increased Collateral Utilization
Do you know what marketing collateral you have? And do you know how it performs? Knowing what collateral your team has and what pieces perform the best is essential to determining your budget and creating content that resonates with prospects. You’ll also be better able to produce pieces to keep up with momentum and know which materials you aren’t using.
When your budget gets tighter, you need to ensure your company’s resources are going toward collateral that you know is effective. Measuring what assets your teams are using, where, and how they correlate to sales figures can be used to inform your budget and operational costs, helping you create content that you know is effective in the future.
Why Sales and Marketing Alignment Matters and How It Can Help You
Your marketing and sales teams are key to your business’s success and are essential for nurturing relationships with your customers and increasing revenue. When they join forces, you’ll experience numerous benefits.
Companies that have alignment between sales and marketing tend to have a more strategic mindset and think about the big picture. These companies get long-term, amplified value from sales and marketing alignment. When your teams are aligned, they’re better able to create and launch campaigns that focus on achieving your big-picture goals.
Understanding of Your Buyer
Your teams need to be on the same page about who your prospects are, and the key to this is the buyer persona. When your teams work in tandem to create personas, you’ll find that the personas are more accurate and you’re able to have more ownership over the consumer experience.
Your buyer will feel the positive effects of the alignment as well because they will feel like you truly understand their business and needs and won’t feel as though there is confusion or fragmentation throughout your company.
When your teams are aligned and agree on common language, terms, and lead-scoring methods, they can use this information to find higher-quality leads and shift their focus toward targeting these leads.
With regular communication between your teams, your sales team can relay information to your marketing team about which assets work best so they can adjust their strategy to focus on targeting the most qualified leads.
If your sales team communicates common questions from prospects to your marketing team, then marketing can understand what content is needed to better inform the target audience. This also benefits your sales team because they’ll use the enhanced materials to help prospects make informed decisions, thus saving time and becoming more efficient.
Misalignment costs your company. According to research, wasted marketing efforts and decreased productivity stemming from sales and marketing misalignment cost $1 trillion a year. Lack of lead conversion contributes to this figure because approximately 79 percent of leads don’t convert.
When your teams are aligned and effectively collaborating, you’ll experience lower costs and improved ROI because your teams will close more deals. According to that same HubSpot article, businesses with alignment between their sales and marketing teams close 38 percent more deals.
Ensure Seamless Collaboration Between Your Teams
Ensure your sales and marketing teams have what they need to collaborate successfully. A centralized platform such as brandstash will help with brand management and seamless collaboration between your teams. Request a demo of brandstash today!