‘Cross-functional’ is a buzzword we hear a lot in Go-to-Market, but what does it really mean? Knowing the principles of cross-functional working is all well and good, but to make it work you need actionable strategies for getting your teams on the same page.
Alignment isn’t going to be easy, and you won’t always get it right straight away, but the sooner you put measures in place to bring teams closer together, the sooner you’ll get there. And aligned teams are going to make for a much more successful business.
Internal and external teams can have a lot of disconnect between them. They operate at different stages in the Go-to-Market timeline and have different priorities and KPIs. But, their work must be coordinated.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at how you can get better alignment between your product marketing and sales teams, for a more effective Go-to-Market launch.
We’ll be covering:
- Sales enablement.
- Building understanding between teams.
- Alignment tools.
- Working towards business objectives.
Why product marketing and sales?
Let’s start by thinking for a minute about the responsibilities of product marketers and sales teams. Product marketing for Go-to-Market predominantly means thinking about product positioning and messaging, customer marketing strategies and pulling off an effective product launch.
Sales teams, on the other hand, are focused on converting leads into sales. They need to be able to talk to customers about their problems and highlight the aspects of a product that will most appeal to the individual they’re selling to.
So while product marketing and sales might look, on the surface, like they have very different roles, they have more in common than you think. While the day-to-day is different, both teams fundamentally need to understand the customer, their needs and what they want out of a product. Getting to the bottom of what teams have in common is the best place to start when you’re looking to bring them closer together.
So, we’re focusing on the customer journey and understanding customer needs. And we’re looking at two teams that sit in different places in the customer timeline. Product marketing and doing the work to generate leads, while sales are converting those leads into customers.
To make the customer journey successful, you need the transition from generation to conversion to be as smooth as possible.
So, let’s talk about the strategies you need to do just that.👇
Using sales enablement for alignment.
A sales enablement team is a fantastic way to link the internal-facing and external-facing teams in your Go-to-Market strategy. A sales enablement program makes sure everyone in sales has the tools and assets they need to sell a product.
Sales enablement is the glue between product marketing and sales. They create educational content to make sure sales reps understand a product, its positioning and messaging, and how it’ll resolve pain points for customers. This can then be shared with sales in quarterly sales KOs.
Sales enablement programs ensure that all the tactical and strategic work that’s gone into the early stages of your Go-to-Market is carried forward to your customer-facing teams. This way, your product marketing team doesn’t have to feel like their work’s gone to waste and sales reps don’t have to go into meetings with prospective customers blind.
Find out more about sales enablement here:
Building understanding between teams.
As we’ve said, different teams have different responsibilities and priorities. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your own team’s needs and schedules and overlook the pain points of your colleagues. It’s important to foster openness between teams so that when they collaborate, they understand one another’s priorities, workload and capacity.
Let’s start by asking ourselves what these teams want from one another. So, we go back to that all-important but elusive concept, leads.
Product marketing bring leads to the table and they're judged on how many leads they bring in, the value of said leads and how many of the leads they generate become customers. Sales want quality leads who are right for the product and have the potential to be converted. This means these two teams are dependent on each other, but also in a prime position to blame each other when a lead doesn’t work out.
You need product marketing and sales to get to a point where they’re working together, rather than targeting their frustrations at one another. Sales need to understand why product marketing has gone after a market segment, why they think a lead is worth pursuing and how the product is suited to them. And product marketing needs to understand the market that sales are working in and what they’re hearing from customers so they can effectively position products for that market.
Getting to know one another’s needs and goals will allow these two teams to better collaborate, as they’ll understand what information they need to communicate and how they need to support their colleagues to effectively complete a project.
Tools for alignment between product marketing and sales.
One of the biggest challenges to successful alignment is when teams don’t understand one another’s workloads or respect each other’s time. It’s important to make sure your teams have enough time to complete the tasks they’re assigned to a high standard.
Transparency is essential for this to be possible. Encourage product marketing and sales to share their timelines with one another, their expectations for the project and what they need to accomplish their goals.
If expectations are set ahead of time and teams are open with one another about how much work they have and when they can realistically meet deadlines, you avoid delayed and postponed tasks that halt progress on a project.
Using platforms like Asana or Jira allows teams to view one another’s projects and deadlines so you can tactically plan when to set work to avoid holdups. This open collaboration will help prevent isolated, siloed teams and ensure better understanding between collaborators.
Another great tool for collaboration on a Go-to-Market strategy is a single source of truth that everyone contributing to the project can refer to. This can be as simple as a Google doc that outlines the purpose of the project, the target audience and other essential information.
This can be formatted as a value proposition or a kick-off document that makes sure all GTM collaborators understand what they're working on, why, and for whom. This is a simple but effective way to ensure everyone is working off of the same information and speaking the same language.
Another essential educational tool collaboration between product marketing and sales are buyer personas. Both teams really need to understand the customers they’re serving, as we’ve discussed above.
Buyer personas are a tool that allow in depth understanding of who a customer is, what they want and the journey you’re taking them on with the product. It’s typically the responsibility of product marketing to produce this tool. But by sharing it with sales, you can make sure both teams are consistently targeting potential buyers and sales are enabled to effectively pick up where product marketing left off.
Working towards business objectives.
This one really applies to all of your teams, but it’s another great way to make sure product marketing and sales are on the same page. When leaders make decisions for a company it can be easy to assume everyone knows and understands these decisions.
It’s important to make sure you communicate company decisions, objectives and projections with your teams. Everyone needs to understand what they’re working towards and why. This is beneficial for many reasons, such as motivating your employees and encouraging loyalty, but what we’re focusing on right now is how this furthers collaboration.
If product marketing and sales are going to effectively take a product to market, they need to understand the importance of the product to the overarching trajectory of your business.
A product launch should be part of a story you’re telling with a brand. To get product marketing and sales working together truly effectively, both teams need to understand the narrative their work is contributing to.
If both teams are trying to achieve the same goal, it will be far easier to get alignment on their work.
With all of these strategies we’ve discussed, the fundamental building block is communication.
Finding ways to open up communication between teams and make sure they understand one another is crucial for collaboration. But as you can see, you can’t just leave it up to chance.
Communication needs to be built into the foundations of your Go-to-Market strategy and this is how you make it happen.