Improve sales and marketing alignment with effective team meetings[wtr-time]
For sales and marketing teams to truly succeed, they need to work well cross-functionally. That starts with having effective team meetings aimed at aligning your sales and marketing teams.
You know the age-old adage that sales and marketing alignment is impossible, and that neither team ever knows what the other is doing? It’s tired, lazy, and certainly not always true.
Any smart professional knows that sales and marketing teams have to work cross-functionally for the greater good of the entire company, so misalignment between them isn’t an option. While some salespeople might not understand everything the marketing team does and vice versa, the best understand that for both teams to succeed, they need to work together.
Your sales and marketing teams must be cross-functional, and one of the best ways to do that is to improve your sales and marketing meeting. Below, we lay out five ways to keep everyone engaged in the meeting, play to their unique strengths, and amplify the collaborative nature of your company as a whole:
- Start with a friendly roundtable icebreaker
- Have a roundtable to discuss what everyone’s working on
- Designate spokespeople from each team for each meeting
- Share notes about upcoming content timelines and campaigns
- Consistently communicate beyond designated meeting times
- Build understanding across teams
Start with a friendly roundtable icebreaker
Your teams might groan at the suggestion of starting each meeting with an ice breaker, but this tried-and-true method really works. Each week, add a new icebreaker question to your meeting agenda. At the start of every meeting, go around the room and have each person share their answers.
Some great icebreaker questions include:
- What did you do over the weekend?
- What’s a show you’ve been binging lately?
- What’s a great book that you’ve recently read?
- What’s one thing you’re jazzed about personally or professionally?
This will help everyone become comfortable around one another and allow interconnected team members to get to know each other outside of the aforementioned role titles and daily tasks. Having well-rounded teammates who know each other as people first, employees second, will give off a less formal, tense vibe to the room, and hopefully encourage more flexibility and well-rounded collaboration.
Who knows, after the meetings – especially if your company uses internal communications software for social chatting, maybe those team members will reconnect over non-work banter about 90 Day Fiance or whatever the latest pop culture trend out there is. It’s a morale and productivity boost wrapped into one – what’s not to like?
Discuss what’s being worked on by each team
Set an expectation that each team should come prepared to share what their team is working on and what outstanding tasks have been completed. In the interest of everyone’s time, try to focus on initiatives that affect both marketing and sales.
For marketing teams, some relevant projects you may be working on include:
- New pitch decks for the sales team to use
- Customer case studies
- A bottom of the funnel blog post
- An email marketing or cold email campaign you’re launching
For sales teams, some relevant things you can bring up include:
- Needing marketing support to close one of your opportunities
- A great customer call you had that you feel would be a great customer story for the marketing website
- Common pain points or language you’re hearing that the marketing team should test
Treat this time like a status update and open up the discussion to see if there is a case to be made for re-prioritizing cross-functional initiatives.
Designate spokespeople from each team every meeting
If your sales and marketing teams already work closely together, they might know every team member well and have a rapport built up. But depending on how large your company is, some salespeople might not know everyone on marketing and vice versa. A great way to break down these barriers is to allow new people from both teams to speak at each meeting.
This can also:
- Improve overall engagement across both teams
- Allow new voices (not just leadership) to be heard
- Help employees take ownership of their work
At the start of the meeting, a member of the leadership team can introduce Sarah the Sales Development Rep and Manuel the Marketing Specialist as the presenters. While other teammates should contribute, ultimately the presenters will be responsible for sharing respective status updates. This will help everyone on each team build up confidence and familiarity with one another.
Share notes about upcoming content timelines and campaigns
Beyond a simplified explanation of who does what, it’s important for both teams to share more intricate, detailed timelines about in-progress and planned campaigns and activities.
Discuss what would be most valuable to get from the other team
Whether it’s using a new SMS marketing tool for a campaign or re-launching an older social media advertising approach that drove high quality leads, revisiting what’s working (and not) for both teams will help propel you forward. One way for marketing and sales teams to work in tandem is for marketers to focus on creating sales enablement content, or materials that give salespeople collateral to use toward their selling efforts.
Sales enablement content should come in a variety of formats, from standard blog posts to case studies, in-house research on customer trends compiled into an info sheet, product research, a sales playbook, email templates, interactive PDFs – you name it. As long as it benefits the salesperson and helps them inch closer to closing deals, you’re creating the right kind of sales enablement content.
These meetings are also an excellent platform for sales to share with marketing what kind of content they’re lacking, as well as for marketing to highlight content that is performing well. When marketing knows what sales needs, they can hyper-focus on creating that content specifically. When sales knows what existing content is out there – and what content plans are already lined up in their editorial calendar – they can request variants of said content that are more specific for their selling needs.
Share feedback cross-functionally
In the same meeting, each team should share feedback on where they find success by using this specially-curated content. For instance, if sales sees a huge jump in closed-won deals after implementing sales enablement content from marketing, they should express their happiness and request more of the same. However, if there seems to be a disconnect, both teams must discuss how to pivot so that any new enablement content is actually beneficial and doesn’t fall flat. Otherwise, marketing is wasting valuable time focusing on the wrong areas.
Consistently communicate beyond designated meeting times
Finally, the number one way to align your sales and marketing teams is to make sure you all are communicating constantly, even when you don’t have a formalized team meeting. If the only time you speak is once weekly (or even less), you’re completely missing the point. Imagine your home team – let’s say you’re in sales. Is there any way humanly possible that you’d be able to forego communicating with extended team members for more than a day at a time? Unlikely. So why is this any different?
Make sure both teams share space within the office, or if you’re part of a remote or distributed workforce, share communication channels online where ongoing chats occur on a daily or near-daily basis. Whether it’s a brief question dropped in your #sales-marketing Slack channel or your shared meeting agenda, make sure your communications aren’t boxed into one day for one hour once per week.
Build understanding across teams
The easiest way to mitigate misalignment is to make sure everyone knows what the other team is doing. Every person’s role on each team is important, and being able to put a name with a face with a role title and a brief snippet of responsibilities together is the core way to never leave anyone in the dark. Your marketing team should know the distinction between AEs and RMs, and your salespeople should know that demand gen, brand/design, and content marketing are not one and the same.
When things like this are clear, people from the respective teams know where to direct questions, like who can help sales create an infographic with key selling points for their customers, or which companies are up for renewal and could use a little extra outreach from marketing. This “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality is the heart of cross-team collaboration, and what makes meetings like these so valuable.
Each salesperson should have a marketer they can turn to, and likewise for marketers to salespeople. The unique knowledge and access to assets each team has is something that should be shared openly, not kept as a secret from the other side.
Overall, sales and marketing alignment doesn’t have to seem far-fetched or impossible like it once might have. Instead, focusing on elements of consistent communication, drawing up content that benefits both teams, and allowing a more laid-back, social interaction to blossom cross-teams is the way you’ll naturally see both teams self-align.
With each of these engagement tactics in place, you’re sure to see improved collaboration, streamlined campaigns, and more closed deals that you can celebrate about together at your next cross-team meeting.