Running a business isn’t just about the freedom and the power to pick and choose what you do — it’s also about handling the responsibility of it. Big companies have internal departments — scaled up due to the number of employees they have– to handle certain jobs, like Human Resources, Payroll and Accounting, IT Support, etc. When you run a small business or a one-person service, you’re the pivot point– you’re the one to decide what to do with that kind of specialized work.
Plus, running an online business means promoting your services and selling your products, something which in bigger organizations means using sales and marketing departments.
While having dedicated teams can leverage the brain factor and parcel out the workload, when it’s down to a tiny group or just you, being the sole overseer-slash-gatekeeper can really leave you feeling yanked in all directions when it comes to researching, planning, and executing marketing and sales.
This is where organizational and goal alignment comes in very handy. When people are committed to working together,they help each other up and forward in ways each can’t do on their own. When people work against each other, the most polite way you can say about that is that they’re working at cross-purposes.
However, when you’re the one with all the decision-making power, sometimes you can work against yourself if you have differing priorities or unclear goals in your marketing and sales, and for a business, that will slow you down. So let’s talk about syncing and alignment.
- Syncing is something you do to put information and people on the same page or on the same beat, and all updated.
- Alignment is something you do to get goals or people working in the same direction with the least amount of conflict or systemic stress possible.
What does this have to do with your business?
Online businesses need customers, meaning customer retention is important. And so is new customer acquisition, which means you have to have continuous marketing strategies and campaigns in order to keep promoting your services and attracting new customers into the fold while taking care of your current ones. When you attract new customers, or new sign-ups, your goal is also to get new sales, which is where your sales strategies come in.
If your marketing and sales goals aren’t aligned and supportive of one another, customers old and new can get lost in the cracks and you don’t get good ROI on your marketing and sales investments. No new customers + low ROI + losing old customers = definitely bad for business.
Think of fishing alone. You have to prepare the bait, the tools, the cooler, etc. You have to find a good fishing spot that isn’t overly popular and crowded with competitors. You need to put in the time in setting things up. You need to wait. If you do catch fish you have to clean them, store them, transport them, and process them on your own later.
Think of fishing with a partner. Think of dividing the workload. One guys lures and bags the fish, the other stores and processes them later. A slip up can cost you a fish (customer). When your bait doesn’t work you try another (advertising). You go to where the fish are (segmentation). And okay, you got fish, but if they’re not processed correctly you stand to lose them, because left too long they go bad (negative publicity).
Marketing and sales are internal fishing partners in your business. They each have specific goals, but you need to have them working together. Set things up right, you can get all the fish you want and they get to be stored properly, so you can benefit from them later. What do you get from a well-formed partnership like this?
- Increasing revenue – properly handled and processed fish are more valuable than spoiled fish.
- It shortens the process cycle – faster processing saves customers time, gives them what they need and paid for, and fulfills their expectations.
- It improves conversion – you lose less fish — or, put differently, you get more fish for the money you invest in catching them.
- It improves accuracy – helping you be better at locating, baiting, catching and processing fish.
Your marketing and sales goals should be united in a common objective; they are your tools to drive sales and increase revenue. The area in which conflict occurs is in the different short term goals each ‘department’ has going after the objective.
Marketing is targeting the people in your niche market and then generating the activities that will get interested customers to see your business as the source of the solution to their particular problem. Marketing gets leads and ‘bites’ (don’t forget the fish). Sales‘ target is to seal the deal and close the sale while ensuring the customers have a good experience. When marketing and sales close the gaps between them, the process is made more seamless and is improved: you close more deals faster, and make more money more efficiently.
Getting things straight between marketing and sales teams.
Pitch a general question in a room full of people and you can get wildly different answers. Throw a specific question out to two distinct groups, and each group will have their own set of answers. Be specific in your goals, and the methods used to get those goals will be more targeted and strategic.
Okay, you have two functions, or if you’re big enough, two ‘departments'(even they’re composed of a single person). Aligning strategies means laying out the common goals, and building your sales and marketing structures. You also have to clarify and document the methods and procedures each department will use in supporting your sales and marketing goals.
If you’re familiar with the sales funnel, marketing focuses more on directing prospects into the top of the funnel, so to speak. Sales, on the other hand, concentrates more on the bottom half of the funnel, where events like cross-selling and up-selling can happen. When these two ‘hands’ work together– your lead capture, conversion, and closing sales become more efficient. Which goes back to ‘you close more deals faster, and make more money.’
The small but defining difference lies in how these ‘hands’ do their jobs separately.
Marketing is a continuous process of establishing and cultivating relationships with customers new and old.
You just can’t stop once you get a new customer. You can’t use the old material repeatedly. The connection with the customers and prospects is done via the means of communication that would reach these customers best: through email, social media, SEO optimized website, etc. Marketing does the work of gathering leads and prospects and converting them into paying customers. This is their goal.
Sales takes on the task of closing the goal (ergo ‘Sales.’)
Sales attends to the ‘fruits’ of these relationships. Marketing goes after like prospects and the sales funnel helps refine and segment these prospects. Further down the funnel, sales can the concentrate on filtering in higher quality leads and concentrating their efforts with those prospects. The big fish, ahem. Instead of processing minnows, and only minnows, sales can then branch off and process the big fish that will end in near-guaranteed sales at much higher prices.
Consumers are much more adept and ferreting out information they need to make better choices. Reviews, pictures, and specs can be accessed in minutes. This means that your marketing and sales departments have to work seamlessly to bridge the distance between the upper and lower half of the sales funnel.
Sales has to know the necessary information that marketing made available to the customer so they won’t drop the ball when it comes to fulfilling expectations. Customers sign up due to the promised value shared by marketing. Fulfilling their expectations helps cement the relationship, and adding value to that relation leads to customer retention.
Marketing needs to know the sales processes as well to help them refine their marketing campaigns in terms of setting fulfillment expectations.
Marketing and sales also need to understand and keep consistent communication with one another — this is easier with a small team, but hard if you’ve outsourced your marketing concerns and sales. If marketing releases a campaign and sales is not ready to handle the influx of queries about that campaign, it’s a problem. If the sales team isn’t equipped with the information before the marketing team rolls out a new promo, the disconnect will happen with the customers, resulting in disappointed expectations, to say nothing about the burden of the sales frontline handling issues they weren’t informed of beforehand.
The full intention of alignment like this is to helps your business process leads more effectively. Designing and outline the structured processes that guarantee that the customer (little fish or big fish, remember) gets a seamless transition from lead to satisfied client.
Whether you’re a solo fisherman or operate your own small boat (yes, we’re hitting a home run with the fishing analogies today) making sure that your marketing and sales activities and handlers are aligned helps you move faster, work more efficiently and increase the value of your business while netting more customers.
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