As workplace culture moves toward remote employment, the notion of the office as a mandatory base of operations is no longer written in stone. Despite this, it remains vital that the sales and marketing departments hold regular face-to-face meetings to achieve alignment. It’s the best way to turn two separate departments into a single revenue-generating machine.
The general statistics bear this out, too. On average, companies with properly aligned sales and marketing teams saw:
Specifically, regarding B2B, enterprise organizations that aligned their teams saw a 24% increase in company growth plus 27% greater profits over three years.
Of course, achieving alignment is easier said than done. Below we list some best practices that cover everything from how to have an effective meeting with a clear focus to bridging the great gulf between sales and marketing attitudes.
1. Spend Time On The Actual Planning Stage
One key to having a meeting that isn’t a rudderless exercise in chaos lies in the planning. Specifically, sitting down for some pre-planning will do wonders. In this stage, you want to ask yourself fundamental questions, like:
- What do I hope to get out of this meeting?
- What specific problems are we trying to solve?
- What is the main thing everyone should take away from the meeting once it’s over?
That may seem straightforward, but meetings inevitably fail precisely because one (or all) of these questions have not been considered beforehand. There are also resources to help you find clear answers to the above questions. Namely, bone up on your research beforehand by looking at the industry, customer, sales, and market research.
2. Draft Service-Level Agreements (SLAs)
Sadly, most surveys on inbound marketing reveal that less than half of marketers feel that sales and marketing departments are properly aligned. We simply can’t talk about meetings as one of the main solutions to bridging this gap without also addressing the importance of service-level agreements.
Typically an SLA defines what type of service a customer will be receiving from a company. However, creating an internal SLA can help crystalize those goals we mentioned earlier. Among other things, a marketing/sales SLA can detail hard numerical goals such as:
- Desired web traffic
- The ideal number of qualified leads
- Overall pipeline revenue
This is on the marketing end. However, a detailed SLA will also include the follow-up activities for which the sales department is responsible, such as engaging qualified leads. A strong and clear SLA all but ensures marketing and sales teams work together and support one another. Consult marketing experts that specialize in your industry to seek additional guidance on devising a cohesive marketing plan and strategy.
Regarding meetings, creating SLAs and bringing everyone up to speed early ensures every subsequent meeting has a foundation upon which to build. In other words, no matter the topic of a particular meeting, those two departments will always have a baseline understanding of what to expect from one another.
3. Create a Meeting-Agenda Plan
So, you’ve got a solid SLA in place, and your sales and marketing teams are generally on the same page. Now it’s time to address the specific topic of the meeting.
To design an actionable plan, always keep data in mind and ask yourself questions. This establishes the head of a meeting as being well-prepared, in command, and possessed with clear goals. Also, a copy of the plan should be passed out to the attendees beforehand. This way they’ll know the topics under discussion and can prepare accordingly.
4. Know The Questions and The Answers
A skilled attorney knows the answer he or she wants to receive from those on the witness stand before even asking the question. You should operate the same way when planning a meeting. Think about the answers you’d like to every question you ask.
Maybe you’d like potential customers to download more ebooks, or demo more products, or you’re wondering about flagging email list numbers. Whatever the case, understanding where you’d like to be on such issues will allow you to design questions that will help you reach the next step in the sales cycle once the meeting is over.
5. Make Meetings Regular
Just how regular depends on the size of your operation and your particular goals. Some find monthly meetings just as effective as those held every week. Others still prefer daily micro-meetings of about 10-minutes each to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Whatever you decide, set a firm schedule and try not to alternate meeting days and times. This way people can get used to the routine. Time is also a crucial factor. According to the 2019 State of Meetings Report, 70% of folks prefer to have meetings between 8 am and 12 pm.
One final bit of advice is simple yet obligatory: start the meeting on time and end on time. Always. Few people are enthusiastic about meetings anyway, and making attendees wait needlessly is a great way to squander any precious goodwill. And above all else, make sure everyone, from the department heads to the sales reps, leave the meeting with a clear action plan. That way everyone knows their job and what their next move will be.
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations