The rivalry between sales and marketing is as old and well known as the Hatfields and the McCoys.
For too many companies, there is a huge gap between sales and marketing.
Salespeople complain about how bad their leads are or how out of touch the marketing department is to real people. Marketers are tired of salespeople bringing in bad clients despite all their work targeting the right audience and can view them as overpaid order takers.
Big companies move slowly and have a lot of moving parts, so it makes sense that these two groups might not be able to work together very effectively. But in small businesses, that doesn’t have to be the case.
When a team is small, a cohesive, united front is extremely important. And this includes the marketing department and the salespeople. There is ample opportunity for the two to come together to find the best leads. The kind of leads that result in optimum deal alignment.
But what is deal alignment?
When your business is small, the range of ways you can fulfill a product or service is limited. But a lot of prospects don’t understand that, or they just don’t care. And because they have their own set of priorities and needs, they try to make things fit in their box. These are the clients that most small businesses try to avoid.
Marketers try to pinpoint and seek out the clients that won’t do this. They try to target the right kind of clients that will be more comfortable buying into a company’s offering just the way it is or needing only small, totally doable adjustments.
That is deal alignment. When what you offer fits perfectly with what your client needs.
Deal alignment isn’t something that bigger companies have to worry about as much. They know that when they’re bringing in as many clients as they can, a lot of the bad ones, (and we only say bad as in “not a good fit for the company”) will be churned through pretty quickly. They are also big enough to have multiple levels of service, communication, and things like that so that there is a much wider range of clients they can work well with.
Small, service-based businesses, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. They put a lot more time and effort into bringing in the right clients to ensure a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.
Bringing on a bad client can put a lot of pressure on the fulfillment team and make for some stressful client/company relationships. Some of them only end with a “tale of caution” for which clients you really want to avoid. But some of them end in bad reviews or a hurt reputation, which can be devastating for a small business.
That’s why marketers and salespeople have to work together.
It’s not the client’s fault if they were brought on thinking they could have things their way, just to find out that the business isn’t able to fulfill those needs or wishes.
And it’s not fair for the business to try to recreate their structure for every client they take on. It will be impossible to grow and scale the business if they’re constantly struggling with the clients they have.
Let’s dig into an agency example that comes up a lot.
Our example company is doing a good job of niching their offering by only offering Facebook ads. It would be easy to look at that and think, “there’s no way someone could unintentionally bring on a client who doesn’t understand what they’re getting.”
But you’d be wrong.
There is still ample opportunity for deal alignment to be off due to the expectations of the client that don’t fit with the delivery or service of the company.
Most of this misunderstanding comes from reporting and communication between the company and the client.
Many clients have no idea how to read reports, so they expect someone to hop on a call and explain it to them. Or they want to be able to talk to somebody about progress or changes immediately, but there are only so many people in the company to reach out to. And only so many hours in the day for them to work and deal with clients.
This can lead to some clients feeling like their communication with their agency partner leaves much to be desired. So they become frustrated and start looking around elsewhere.
But when the marketers for this Facebook ads company does a good job finding the right leads, specifically, people looking for a small company who understand some of the limitations that comes with one, this problem can be mostly avoided. Especially if the salespeople ask the right questions of those leads to confirm their needs and expectations.
“If we worked together, what do you think that relationship should look like to be a good fit for you?”
Questions like that. We can at least check their assumption and see if it matches up with how we work with our clients.
The other part, of course, is to take the time to make sure your clients understand your reports the first time. And always set expectations about the best way to communicate with each other, what times you’re available, and how quick your response time usually is.
Every company thinks about their perfect client differently, as they should. Marketers take the idea of this perfect client and create a “client avatar” and a “customer journey.”
This avatar is your one perfect client, and it’s as detailed as what industry they work in, how old they are, what their goals and dreams are, etcetera etcetera.
A customer journey is literally putting yourself in a customer’s shoes, from finding out about the company to closing the deal, becoming a client, and receiving the service or product.
When they know who to market to and what this customer would want, they create campaigns and goals towards targeting them.
Salespeople, on the other hand, are usually more concerned with getting the deal done. They have metrics they have to hit, a commission they have to earn, (more on the dangers of commission-only pay structures soon), and a quota they have to fill. This creates an environment where it can feel like the marketing department holds them back from accomplishing all of this. And since a lot of salespeople don’t have to continue working with the clients after the deal is closed, it’s hard for them to care about finding the right ones.
But a bad client doesn’t just create more work, it creates stress for the entire team.
That’s why hiring the right salespeople and creating a supportive and cooperative environment is so important.
When you shift the metrics from the number of closed deals to the number of conversations a salesperson has, they can create their sales process around the avatar and customer journey the marketers have created. Thus bringing in better clients.
Even more importantly, they will feel empowered and encouraged to say no to clients that won’t fit.
At the end of the day, you can’t force people to get along. But you can create a culture that makes people want to get along and work together. It’s about common goals and common values.
When you can make this work, your business will be able to focus on what is most important. And they’ll have to opportunity to grow and evolve with a strong, coordinated team. Even between the marketers and salespeople.