In good times, ensuring sales and marketing alignment is a no-brainer. But when tough times hit, this factor becomes absolutely key to success. Maintaining it during a downturn or in something like the current market environment, caused by our collective response to COVID-19, can be tricky. Business leaders who mobilize and adapt their sales and marketing strategies to meet the rapidly changing demands from a broad set of stakeholders, including customers, shareholders, employees, business partners, federal and local governments, and even family, will come out ahead—even during the most depressed, topsy-turvy economy this country has seen in a century.
All of this is easier said than done. In crisis mode, the sales team must operate in sync with the marketing team to assure the company’s success. Sure. But when sales and marketing teams fail to collaborate because of complications in the market, the result can be a kind of negative feedback, where bad mistakes create room for more bad mistakes, which creates more mistakes, etc. This leads to ongoing deal losses, fruitless marketing comms efforts, and customer frustration.
But companies have survived this kind of thing before! First of all, it is always much easier when marketing and sales are operating from the same playbook, executing on strategy with ruthless consistency. The right strategic playbook will guide your team as they navigate daily tasks, giving them the clarity they need to achieve shared business objectives and results.
But that’s just to start with. Here are my 6 steps to assure that you keep your sales and marketing teams remain focused and that their go-to-market strategies are aligned:
1. Know Your Customer—Authentically.
Knowing your best customers and identifying their characteristics will help in making your sales and marketing team profitable and efficient. You might think that you know what your customers want, but the reality of a changing economy means what you knew (July 23, 2020) is irrelevant today.
You should do your research to know who your ideal customer is today, and what they want. How have their views, needs, desires, preferences changed? Market research is key. This will help you see your potential clients as they are—not as you wish them to be. Ensure that the profile for your ideal customer and buyer personas are accurate and updated to reflect the new circumstance you now live in.
2. Assess Your Situation—Honestly
Assess your business to know what of value you can deliver to the market. Then, double-check to make sure that you aren’t just breathing your own exhaust. For instance:
- What are the stated goals of your business versus the actual results?
- What are you advertising your target clients versus what you can actually deliver?
- What is your ambition for expansion versus your quantifiable investment in organic growth?
When you truly understand these things, you will validate your sales and marketing strategy. You’ll also have a deeper understanding of what will have to be transformed to achieve the desired results.
3. Evaluate Your Capabilities and Resources—Realistically.
Assessing your current resources will help you develop a strategy that you can execute. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a strategy that you can’t implement because you don’t have the required resources.
What talent can you access? What team training can you leverage? Ensure that your sales team has the necessary knowledge and skills and your marketing team has a deep understanding of your products. Perform a health check on your digital marketing and ensure that you’re effectively engaging your target audience.
Inventorying your capabilities is vital in helping you develop a relevant and successful sales and marketing strategy. If you are a small or medium-sized business, it’s critical to document what your sales staff will do to help you achieve your business goals. Assess whether their sales techniques and approach align with your business needs.
If you want to learn how to utilize your potential fully in your business, seek guidance from specialists like the experienced business coaches.
4. Adopt Account-Based Marketing Strategies—Collaboratively.
You can allow your sales and marketing leaders to discuss and agree on what account-based marketing (ABM) strategy to adopt. The benefit of ABM is that it forces the marketing and sales teams to collaborate in identifying the key prospects to market to. It also promotes personalized interactions with the buying team.
5. Deliver Sales and Marketing Communications—Consistently.
Communication activities are crucial and should be regular to align the sales and marketing teams. When both teams collaborate in their operations, it’s easier to develop an appropriate strategy that matches business goals. The company’s perception of communication style will determine how frequent the team should communicate with the audience.
In a crisis, the worst thing you can do is sit back and wait for things to change of their own accord. Communication is a proactive effort—not a passive natural occurrence. When the economy gets complicated and brands and consumers don’t know what’s coming next, the quality and regularity of your communication, especially between marketing and sales, needs to be stepped up, not downgraded.
6. Plan for Strategy Execution—Ruthlessly.
A winning sales and marketing strategy requires commitment and follow-up to assess its effectiveness. The implementation plan should summarize the essentials to make the strategy a reality. Important things to consider in the plan include budget, team responsibilities, resources, infrastructure, performance measurement and reporting.
“The readiness is all” as Shakespeare once said. In a difficult time, your sales and marketing plan is your best and most important friend. Know, review, and constantly reassess your strategic plan as new information comes and as needs and contexts change. If you’re ready enough, when things change you’ll know not just how to survive it, but how to thrive.