I attended the Recruitment Network’s marketing round table last week and a key theme was how to get sales and marketing teams working together. And despite the fact that companies which successfully align sales and marketing not only drive more revenue, but also have better customer satisfaction levels, the subject has always been contentious. There a number of reasons for this – from a perception that marketing doesn’t drive sales through to cultural misalignment inherent within a business.
Moving towards a client led market
However, in the midst of Covid-19, where the recruitment arena is rapidly moving towards a client led market, it’s perhaps more important than ever that sales and marketing are successfully aligned. If we look back to the 2008 financial crisis, we saw an explosion of recruitment start-ups, and we are very likely going to see the same thing happen post coronavirus. Consequently, competition between agencies will be rife and, in a client led market, effective business development will be even more important than ever. But in order for sales teams to win new work they need to be able to differentiate themselves from the many other agencies vying for the same business – and simply telling perspective clients what you do won’t cut it. Being able to demonstrate your expertise in the market, your understanding of employers’ pain points, and your value proposition will be crucial. And arguably the most effective way to do this is through the development and distribution of compelling added value content that does just this. It is for this reason that marketers and consultants need to work more closely to develop resources that will help drive new business.
More appreciation of how marketing drives new business
However the good news for marketing departments is that there appears to be have been a shift in mindset within agencies of the important role marketing plays in driving new business. The BlueSky team recently surveyed over 450 recruitment marketers to assess the impact that Covid-19 had had on their roles and marcomms strategies, as well as how their function is perceived within the agency. Encouragingly, 64% believe that the role of marketing has changed for the better and there appears to be much more appreciation of just how much marketing drives sales.
So while this is fantastic news for marketers – who let’s face it have often incorrectly been perceived as the colouring in department – there is still more to do when it comes to working closer with sales teams, getting their buy in and commitment to working in partnership to shape and create content to drive new leads and revenue. With this is mind, the BlueSky team recently hosted a webinar on this very subject – which you can watch on demand – that honed in on the four key barriers that need to be overcome if sales and marketing are to be successfully aligned:
4 key challenges that need to be overcome to align sales and marketing
- Strategy: when we talk about strategy in relation to sales and marketing alignment we are not only referring to shared goals and objectives, but also content consistency. Failure to have a shared strategy often results in sales and marketing teams disseminating messages and resources that conflict with each other (salesy messages vs added value messages, for example) The content that each team is creating and distributing must be aligned to ensure that all stakeholders are receiving the same messages that are in line with the company’s overall strategy. And it is for this reason that sales teams must be involved in the process of creating a marketing strategy from the very beginning – helping to shape the themes that this encompasses and the types of content that will be created.
- Internal communication: regular communication between the sales and marketing teams is just as important as having a shared strategy. And if the marcomms strategy is to be achieved, ongoing communication is crucial. By regularly sitting down (virtually is of course fine) with consultants, marketers will not only be able to glean information on current trends in the market, and the pain points of clients which will inform content creation, but they will also be seen as an active partner to the sales team which will only encourage buy in from them. In addition, regular catch ups offer a fantastic opportunity for marketers to demonstrate just how effective the marketing initiatives are and how they have translated into new leads or new business.
- Process: having an effective process in place to measure and track marketing campaigns is absolutely key to aligning the sales and marketing teams. And while many agencies will have a sophisticated tech stack which measures and monitors activity, it’s key that where the human element is still required – for example when a potential client calls in – that the source is recorded properly by the consultant. And the good news is that if the above two challenges are overcome and there is a true partnership between the two functions this is far more likely to be achieved. However, it is equally as important that marketers are ensuring that leads are not only fed to the right individual or team within the sales floor, but that are also followed up on.
- Culture: having a cultural misalignment within a business will make it very difficult to successfully align sales and marketing. And it is one of the biggest reasons that marketers and consultants often work in silo. After all, if there isn’t a culture – driven from the top of a business– that encourages the two disciplines to collaborate it can be very hard for marketers to achieve goals and get buy in. However, it isn’t impossible and this is why it is even more important that marketing teams regularly communicate not only their strategies, but also how they have successfully driven new business to the board or budget holder. By doing so, you are far more likely to encourage a culture that truly champions sales and marketing alignment.
To find out more about successful sales and marketing alignment, check out my colleague Vickie’s latest blog, which offers practical tips on getting sales and marketing teams working in partnership.