Anyone who professionally knows me knows that I’m an advocate for breaking down silos between departments, teams, or individuals within an organization.
There have been more moments in my career than there should have been where silos affected growth and opportunities. Two examples that come to mind are for both sales and marketing.
- I’ve sat in a sales chair desperately needing a compare and contrast resource to help me understand the difference between two editions of a product. I had a customer on the line wanting to make a purchase but not knowing which version of the product to buy. I felt frustrated and admittedly embarrassed that I didn’t know. After all, I held a position where I was supposed to be the product expert. I needed marketing to help me by creating a resource to fill this void of customer-facing knowledge. Or at the very least, mine.
- I’ve also sat in a marketing chair without access to the sales team (thank you silos), and was charged to create a resource to address a perceived customer pain point as I couldn’t get my hands on quantitative or qualitative data – or anecdotal feedback from sales – to confirm. Unfortunately, after the deliverable was released, it was meant with confusion by the sales team as they hadn’t ‘heard’ that pain point from a customer perspective. Again, embarrassment galore. And, to be honest, frustration that bordered on anger. Weirdly enforced silos between departments caused a massive breakdown in communication, tension between the teams, and an abundance of time and resources wasted.
Both of these experiences only further caused me to be an advocate for organizations to break down silos. And if you are a team member reading this and find yourself working for an organization that does not understand this, I encourage you to drag out a metaphoric soapbox to make the case to break down barriers.
Silos can lead to a lack of collaboration, communication breakdowns, duplication of effort, and ultimately, hinder the overall productivity and success of the organization. Silos can also lead to a narrow-minded approach to problem-solving, with each department or team only focusing on their own goals and objectives rather than the overall goals of the organization. In contrast, a collaborative and integrated approach where different departments work together towards common goals can lead to better decision-making, greater innovation, and improved overall business outcomes.
Build synergy between sales and product marketing
Sales and product marketing are two crucial aspects of any business, and their collaboration can significantly impact the overall success of a company. When these two departments work together, businesses can better understand their customers’ needs and preferences, ultimately leading to increased sales and revenue.
Product marketing is responsible for creating a compelling value proposition for a product, determining the target market, and identifying the most effective marketing channels. On the other hand, the sales team is responsible for engaging with potential customers, building relationships, and closing deals.
Here are five ways that sales and product marketing can work together toward business success and increased sales:
1Collaboration on Product Launches: When launching a new product, the product marketing team can work closely with the sales team to ensure they have the necessary information and resources to sell the product effectively. The sales team can provide valuable feedback on customer preferences, pain points, and objections, which the product marketing team can use to refine the messaging and positioning of the product.
For example, let’s say an EdTech product marketer is launching a new math learning app targeted towards middle school students. The sales team can provide valuable feedback on customer pain points, such as difficulties with homework, exam preparations, or test anxiety – and IT admins are worried about security and privacy. With this feedback, the product marketing team can refine the messaging and positioning of the app to address these specific customer pain points. Or, maybe the product messsaging doesn’t need to change, but rather new sales support resouces need to be developed. For this example, maybe the markter locates a loyal advocate customer with the same demographic profiles and pain points of common prospescts, and asks them if they would be willing to be part of s success story on how they overcame their concerns on the learning app’s security and privacy. Testimonials, case studies, and success stories are always powerful sales enablement tools to have and use.
2Customer Research: The sales team interacts with customers on a daily basis, making them an excellent source of information about customer needs and preferences. The product marketing team can work with the sales team to gather feedback from customers, identify trends, and use this information to refine product messaging, positioning, and marketing strategies.
For example, let’s say an EdTech startup selling a language learning software to schools, the sales team can work with teachers to gather feedback from students about their language learning needs, preferences, and interests with a district goal of implementing more personalized learning. Based on this feedback, the product marketing team can refine the product messaging, positioning, and marketing strategies to better align with the needs of their target audience.
3Jointly Developing Sales Materials: The sales team often needs sales materials such as product brochures, presentations, and case studies to effectively sell products to customers. The product marketing team can work with the sales team to develop these materials, ensuring that they accurately reflect the product’s value proposition and resonate with the target audience.
For example, let’s say a sales rep is trying to close-win a high stakes/dollar account for the company’s online learning platform. The sales rep can provide insights into the customer goals, needs, and requirements which a product marketer can then transform into sales support resources customized for that specific account (i.e., account based marketing [ABM]). For general sales support, sales rep teams can provide general industry or common themes and pain points they are hearing from customers. From there, product marketing teams can take this insight to develop global and/or localized resouces to make them more effective and persuasive.
4Analyzing Sales Data: Sales data provides valuable insights into customer behavior and buying patterns. The sales team can work with the product marketing team to analyze this data and identify opportunities for upselling, cross-selling, and improving customer retention.
For example, let’s say an EdTech startup selling a coding learning platform, the sales team can work with the product marketing team to analyze sales data and identify patterns in customer behavior, such as frequent use of specific features or drop-off rates at certain points in the learning process. This data can be used to refine the product, messaging, and marketing strategies to better serve customer needs and preferences.
One of my favorite data points I love to analyze is closed-lost deals. If a rep has filled out details in the CRM, you can extropolate common competitors you may be losing to and why. You may also be able to find patterns, such as if you are losing deals in regions. Maybe there is something happening in the region you need to dig into.
Whatever the case may be, data truly is a sales and marketer’s friend!
5Continuous Feedback Loop: Sales and product marketing should maintain a continuous feedback loop to ensure that they are aligned and working towards the same goals. The sales team can provide feedback on the effectiveness of product messaging and marketing strategies, while the product marketing team can provide feedback on the quality of sales leads and opportunities.
For example, let’s say an EdTech product marketer selling an AI-powered online assessment tool, the sales team can provide feedback on the quality of leads and opportunities, while the product marketing team can provide feedback on the effectiveness of messaging and marketing strategies. This continuous feedback loop helps to ensure that the sales and product marketing teams are aligned and working towards the same goals, ultimately leading to increased sales and business success. In this example, maybe the customer wants to know more about security and privacy. Sales can communicated this insight to the product marketing team to make sure that resouces that address these customer pain points are created. Additionally, a good feedback loop can provide insights into what marketing resources and sales enablement tools are working to make sure those remain up-to-date, and possibly sunset resources that might not be working. Opportunities for sales trainings can also be uncovered from the feedback loop.
Sales and product marketing are critical functions of any business, and their collaboration is essential for success. By working together, businesses can better understand their customers’ needs, refine product messaging and positioning, and develop effective marketing strategies that drive increased sales and revenue.