Align Sales & Marketing for a Killer Sales Kickoff

Do your sales and marketing teams go together like oil and water? Or peanut butter and jelly?

How you answer may have a lot to do with the overall success of your team. Because where once each team may have been intent on asserting its turf, the most successful companies are finding they need to be cohesive. And what better time to get everyone in sync than the sales kickoff?

What’s the difference?

Marketing’s role is to gain the attention of qualified leads through targeted outreach, whether it’s content marketing, case studies, advertisements, PR or the like by sharing the benefits of your company’s product or service. Think of it is as “one-to-many.”

Sales’ role is more focused on the “one-to-one” ratio, where they are networking, nurturing and building relationships with leads developed by marketing’s efforts and their own – and then, ideally, closing the sale.

Why a strong partnership is important

While they have always had a symbiotic relationship, sales and marketing have historically been more colleagues than partners. In the past, frankly, sales was more likely to direct marketing: “We need ads to reach this target market” or “We need brochures that highlight these features.”

But now that so many customers are seeking their own information – consider that some 87% of surveyed buyers look for advice online before buying a product, service or solution – it is clear that in today’s environment, it’s quite possible that you’ll find the marketing department taking its turn in the driver’s seat.

Jumpstart the relationship at sales kickoff

A proven strategy for aligning two teams of any type is to get them in the same room together. And sales kickoff is the perfect opportunity, since the entire goal of the event is to get everyone on the same page. Smart companies take advantage of the excitement and camaraderie you are building to take it to the next level, by getting these two departments working together.

The best strategy is to build time into your agenda for a breakout session designed to accomplish the following:

  • Brainstorm how you can work together. Do the sales and marketing managers want to have weekly meetings to touch base? Should marketing put together a questionnaire that sales can fill out after a call to identify basics, such as how the target heard about them? Can sales review existing marketing materials to offer guidance on what would work better? Could they both benefit from developing a joint content marketing and thought leadership program?
  • Define joint goals. The two groups have to be working toward the same end to make it work, and goals should reflect that. When sales and marketing truly feel they are on the same “side,” that’s when the magic will happen.
  • Make the ensuing plan actionable by putting dates and ownership to the tasks. At a sales kickoff, it’s easy to get caught up in the high of fresh ideas, only to be hit with the reality of a full inbox once you return to the office. But putting concrete dates and names to the list will turn those “big ideas” into an actual plan.

Tools for growing and fostering the alliance

While the sales kickoff is likely to be a “kumbaya” moment, reality can bite. That’s why it’s important to put tools in place to ensure that sales and marketing can reach their joint goals.

  • Use shared software: If your teams aren’t reading the same TPS reports, then you won’t be aligned around common goals. Make sure that sales and marketing both have access to numbers to help confirm which campaigns or efforts are driving the best leads.
  • Develop joint lingo: It’s also a good idea to make sure that you are defining terms the same way. Marketing might consider a “qualified lead” to be anyone who clicks on the link, while sales only counts it if they request more info.
  • Offer robust content: A whopping 70 percent of customers would prefer to learn about a company through articles instead of advertisements. That’s just one of the reasons that content marketing programs are a powerful tool for sales organizations and a strategy around which marketing and sales can coalesce.
  • Keep sales materials current: With just-in-time sales pieces, the marketing department can ensure that sales has the latest iteration of all its pieces. Whether it’s customer testimonials, case studies or details on the latest promotion, sales can identify the need for a new piece, and marketing can provide the whole team with the update in a timely and cost-effective manner – no more obsolete and outdated binders or PDFs.

When sales and marketing are working from the same playbook, they can both focus on the ultimate goal: growing your business.