This is the fifth part in our six-part series on using mobile technology and social learning to improve sales productivity.

Although Sales and Marketing often share the same goals and objectives, they may find it tough to work together. In fact, they often find it tough just to talk nicely about each other. According to a Corporate Executive Board study, 87% of the terms used by Sales and Marketing to describe each other are negative. So not only are Sales and Marketing not working together, they often regard each other with some degree of distain and distrust.

Usually, Sales and Marketing teams have focused on achieving their own goals, isolated from each other through a lack of communication, coordination and cooperation. This is despite the very real positive effects that occur when Sales and Marketing teams work more closely together.

For example:

  • MarketingProfs reports that organizations with tightly aligned Sales and Marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.  They also report that companies with aligned Sales and Marketing generate as much as 208% more revenue from marketing.
  • Marketo reports that when Sales and Marketing teams are in sync, companies are up to 67% better at closing deals.
  • Bulldog Solutions reports that the alignment of the Sales and Marketing functions impacts revenue growth by up to three times.
  • SiriusDecisions reports that B2B organizations with tightly aligned Sales and Marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.

So how do you start addressing a misalignment between Sales and Marketing?

Establish shared definitions and processes:  Create company-wide definitions for commonly used terms and have both sales and marketing people practice explaining them.  Common terms that may need shared definition often include:

  • Contact
  • Lead
  • Qualified lead
  • Opportunity
  • Account type (for example: dealer vs distributor vs reseller)
  • Other stages within your sales process

Once shared definitions have been decided and internalized by individual reps and marketers, you’ll find it much easier to work together in alignment.

Rehearse customer-facing communications:  Marketing spends a lot of time and effort creating positioning statements, value propositions, and competitive comparisons.  These are then spewed at the reps with PowerPoint presentations during daylong sales meetings. Often, they are mostly forgotten by the reps. Or worse, half-remembered and practiced in front of customers.

Have reps practice delivering value propositions or positioning statements in their own words, the way they would express them in front of a customer or prospect. Share their attempts with Marketing. Marketing will learn valuable lessons on customer language vs the marketing jargon that often permeates these materials. And that will help Marketing translate the materials into customer-facing communications such as the website, catalogs and sales literature.

Share best practices:  When your high-performing reps share their best practices with other reps, invite Marketing into the discussion.  Marketers often are masters at scaling communications. For example, if you have a star rep that excels at upselling, Marketing often can translate what they do into sales tools, sales materials or specific training to help less-skilled reps improve their performance in that area.

Make it a game: One challenge with established reps is keeping them interested and engaged in material that – at least in their opinion – they already know.  Gamification – the technique of using games to reinforce learning – creates healthy competition and is especially helpful in keeping established reps engaged. For example, if they really do know the material, they will quickly gain points and move to the top of the leaderboard by demonstrating their knowledge. But if the training identifies a gap in their knowledge, they are motivated to quickly master the new material to maintain their lead.

Gamification works.  According to Salesforce, 71% of companies that implemented gamification saw an 11 to 50% increase in sales performance. And gamification also helps new reps. Research from Aberdeen revealed that 31% more first-year reps achieved quota when gamification was added to their training.

We’ve seen that quickly ramping up new reps and keeping new and established reps at the top of their game is vital to improving sales productivity in the face of high turnover and short rep tenure.  In our next blog post, we’ll look at the final piece of the puzzle – increasing rep tenure and how to use mobile learning to help retain your high performers.

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