The divide between Sales and Marketing teams is shrinking a little bit every day.
And that’s a good thing, according to Missy Acosta, vice president of Brand Strategy for Delta Dental of Tennessee. “Marketers need to become strategic partners within their organization,” she said. “But they [also] need to be strategic partners with sales.”
Finding tactics to align the two teams can sometimes be a challenge. But Acosta, who has over twenty years’ experience with B2B consumer branding and public relations, has identified four specific ways to get marketing and sales teams to work together in harmony, amplifying results to improve the overall customer experience.
These techniques will be the focus of Acosta’s upcoming AMA Nashville’s Power Luncheon presentation, “Getting Marketing and Sales to Sing in Harmony – the Delta Dental Story” on November 15.
The first step to bridging the gap is to encourage what Acosta calls a “servant leadership” culture within the marketing departments. Two qualities she identifies as essential for great service leaders to demonstrate is humility and character – always thinking of others first and doing what’s best for the company as a whole. “What I want to do as a leader in our Marketing Department and what I’m hoping that our team members are doing,” she said, is to approach the job with the mindset that “we’re here to serve the rest of the company.”
One of the ways Acosta sees this as a challenge is when organizations try to compare different Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) as markers of success. “If marketing is chasing one set of goals, and sales is chasing a separate set of goals, you’re never going to have alignment between the two,” she said. “You’ve got to incorporate those KPI’s so that everybody is working towards the same goal – to grow the business.”
The key to successful sales is keeping the customer satisfied. Acosta, however, proposes that for marketing departments, sometimes that “customer” is internal, for example, the sales team. “It’s important for marketers to understand the sales process,” she said. “Do the research, spend time with the sales team, spend time on sale’s calls and understand what is being faced out in the marketplace.”
According to Acosta, that type of collaboration allows marketing to present better solutions to problems sales teams may encounter along the way.
Understanding the Language of Sales
Musical harmony only works when everyone is singing the same notes. The same goes for aligning marketing and sales teams. Acosta argues that it’s crucial for marketing departments to understand and speak what she calls the “language of sales.”
For a lot of companies, Acosta believes part of the challenge is “marketing has to help explain itself to sales, in terms that sales will understand.” Speaking the same language is part of what makes Delta Dental so successful at overcoming that obstacle. “One of the things we do is whenever there is a sales meeting, marketing is invited. We are always in there with sales, learning about their pain points, about the challenges that they are facing out on the field.”
While the language and terminology may be different, the goal should always be the same – improve the customer experience.
Impacting the Customer Experience
Recognizing how sales and marketing alignment can impact the overall customer experience is essential. “We need to look at marketing from a different perspective,” Acosta said. “Marketers are in a very unique opportunity to be leaders within their companies, with all different divisions of the company.”
Each step along the way, Acosta argues marketing teams can provide value to help enable the sales process, as well as improve the overall customer experience. As an example, Acosta describes that when Delta Dental launched its new website, one of the first presentations Marketing did was to the Customer Service team.
Besides giving the Customer Service department (the front line for consumers) a sneak peak at the new site, according to Acosta it offered the sales team “very valuable insights, finding those gaps in the website that we still needed to plug before pushing it out live.” As a result, the customers had a better experience. And a happy customer is a returning customer!
Aligning Delta Dental’s Marketing and Sales divisions has proven successful for Acosta who said the two teams now work seamlessly together. “They’re in constant interaction,” she said. “That is a key thing, having that proximity and that accessibility for one another.”
Acosta will be presenting these strategies and much more at the AMA Nashville Power Luncheon on November 15 at the City Winery. Register now.