Aligning Sales and Marketing through Customer-Focused Messaging

A guest article by Dan Larson, CEO of Leverage Sales Coaching

Aligning sales and marketing is a tricky—and costly—responsibility for any executive team. When revenue starts to slump, sales and marketing often begin pointing fingers at each other. This can quickly drag down productivity and morale. When this happens, the C-Suite needs to step in and get both departments back on the same track.

Achieving alignment (I like to call it integration) between Sales and Marketing doesn’t require either department to change what they do. Marketing is still tasked with increasing leads for the sales team. And Sales is still responsible for converting leads to closed deals. Together, they’re the company’s revenue engine. But when they’re not working in sync, it becomes most identifiable in the messaging.

Aligning Sales and Marketing through Messaging

In many companies, especially larger ones, Marketing and Sales often become siloed. Each department does their work without communicating effectively with the other. Marketing has no idea why the sales effort succeeds or fails—and Sales isn’t sharing customer information discovered on the front line.

To align sales and marketing, you need to ensure that the messaging is integrated. Let’s allow for the fact that Marketing naturally focuses on higher-level messaging geared towards reaching a broader audience, while Sales tailors their messages for one-to-one interactions. Messaging alignment requires a north star to guide both departments. For most B2C and B2B companies, that north star is a focus on the customer’s High Value Needs.

We need to know our customers’ reasons for why they buy—not what our salespeople or marketers think are the reasons. Understanding the real problems your products or services solve for your customers can help focus more relevant, engaging messaging from lead generation to deal close. You can achieve this by asking your target customers questions like:

  • Why is our product important to your overall business goals?
  • What issues does our product help you solve, avoid, or accomplish?
  • How does our company stand out to you compared to others?

Concrete blocks spelling out TEAM with two businessmen pushing the blocks into place

This information will help you create more relevant messaging to increase impact throughout the customer journey. Sales often has easier, direct access to this information since they’re in closer contact with customers. So it’s high payoff for Sales to collaborate with Marketing, sharing that invaluable customer feedback and data regularly.

The Impact of Customer-Focused Messaging

Insisting on customer-focused messaging means allowing the customers’ needs to drive marketing content and sales pitches. This is the real opportunity to increase leads, close more sales, and boost revenue.

Let me share an example of a yacht crane manufacturer that we helped at my company Leverage Sales Coaching. This yacht crane manufacturer was about seven years old—a newcomer in an industry dominated by companies that had been around for 40 or 50 years. This manufacturer was struggling to break into the yacht-builder market because they were less well known. But they were getting feedback from their customers that they made a superior product.

When we came in to help, the first thing we did was to make sure the company was committed to being customer-focused. The next step was aligning sales and marketing messaging. They weren’t integrating their customers’ feedback and needs into the messaging. So, we helped them capture their customers’ top problems and frustrations and showed their Marketing and Sales teams how to incorporate these messages into all marketing touchpoints and their sales approach.

We created a more focused, streamlined, and effective sales process and helped Marketing target their key markets to generate better leads. After making these changes, the company tripled their sales and size in three years. They grabbed so much market share that they drove two of their top five competitors out of the yacht crane business. This was all made possible because they committed to sales and marketing coordination around powerful customer-focused messaging.

How to Create Customer-Focused Messaging

Aligning sales and marketing means integrating strong core messaging. Below are my top tips for keeping messaging consistent and coordinated:

The Sales Feedback Loop

Sales has great insights on what value propositions work to turn leads into customers. Sales needs to share this information with Marketing regularly. Strengthening your messaging needs to be an ongoing, collaborative process.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Group of businesspeople meeting around a conference table with the CEO

Sales and Marketing need to make time to collaborate on updating and honing messaging. As customers’ needs change and markets evolve, Marketing and Sales must work together to adapt and keep the messaging fresh.

Systemize the Alignment

Aligning Sales and Marketing can’t be a sometimes thing. Meetings between the two departments need to be scheduled regularly. Ongoing communication between meetings should be a valuable standard operating procedure (SOP).

C-Suite Leadership

Sales and Marketing alignment must be guided from the top levels of the company. The daily grind of sales and marketing can leave integration efforts on the back burner. When executives expect and track the alignment, it helps ensure the process continues.

I can’t emphasize enough how important active C-Suite leadership is for successfully aligning Sales and Marketing. If this process isn’t regarded as important in the boardroom, it will absolutely fall flat in execution. Integration across departments must be an expected part of the culture and a natural part of weekly practices if you want to avoid the cross-departmental confusion and finger-pointing that can undermine the success of your company.

Contact my team today to learn more about how refining sales processes and sales messaging can improve your revenue. For help with marketing strategy and messaging, Upstart Group’s team of expert CMOs are our trusted partners.

Close up portrait of Dan LarsonDan Larson is a results-driven sales expert, coach, trainer, and co-author with Jack Daly of the Amazon and ForbesBooks best-selling book The Sales Playbook for Hyper Sales Growth. As CEO and Founder of Leverage Sales Coaching, Dan leads his team, Coaches, and clients to build and use a Sales Playbook to grow and scale their results. He works with business owners and top executives to implement sales systems, processes, and tools to better focus and execute their High Payoff Activities.