Aug 9, 2022

Why Digital Transformation is Crucial for Marketing and Sales Alignment in 2023

by Digital Marketing Institute

You have no doubt heard the term digital transformation many times and you could even be responsible for accelerating it across your business. It’s a way for companies to embed digital into their processes and culture along with establishing a digital culture. 

However, when a business is going through a transformation it can encounter roadblocks that result in a disconnect between departments. But when it comes to your sales and marketing teams, they need to be on the same page to drive awareness, leads, and revenue. 

So how can you ensure your marketing and sales are aligned throughout your digital transformation journey? 

The new role of marketing in digital transformation

While the responsibility of digital transformation may have once been the preserve of CEOs or COOs, the leadership of many components of digital projects now lies with CMOs and the marketing department. 

According to our research, ‘The Marketing Evolution- Leadership, Transformation, Skills, Challenges & the Future’, 71 percent of senior marketers and 61 percent of mid-level marketers are responsible for digital transformation in their organizations.

They are mainly responsible for customer experience, data insights, and delivering an ROI on marketing activities. These key areas help to drive brand awareness and enhance the customer journey across multiple touchpoints to attract prospects and deliver high-quality leads for the sales team.   

"Digital transformation allows for a deeper understanding of the customer to identify specific customers and audience segments, understand behavior and anticipate actions,” said Chris Parkin, Senior Director at Adobe. “This, in turn, allows us to use data to generate actionable insights and improve customer outcomes.”

Why is marketing and sales alignment critical?

Ultimately you want your sales and marketing departments working like a well-oiled machine. In an ideal world, your marketing team should measure, understand, and nurture prospects' intent to generate highly engaged leads that can be seamlessly handed off to your sales team to close. 

If prospects are not ready to complete a sales action, the process should work both ways, with leads continuing on into a marketing journey for further nurturing.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many. Leads can fall through the cracks or are not nurtured in the right way. So how can you improve this process for your business?

  • Adopt new ways of working -  The way we work has changed post-Covid and companies need to embrace a new mode of communication. Remote or hybrid working can be successful with team collaboration and virtual meetings while workflows can bring leads along the funnel. This makes keeping customer data and meeting information up-to-date even more important so one hand knows what the other is doing in the business.
  • Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - Every business should have a CRM in place. It helps you to store, collect and segment customer information and identify sales opportunities. Examples of this type of software include Salesforce, Zendesk and Zoho. Your CRM should also be linked to any automation tools that marketing uses to build a complete picture of a prospect but also keep data in one place. Here's a guide to CRM if you want to find out more about using the management system. 
  • Apply Account-Based Management (ABM) - This is a go-to-market strategy your sales and marketing team can use to target particular accounts that fit your ideal customer profile or have been identified as a fit for your product. Your ABM strategy would aim to create tailored messaging and content to bring them through the sales funnel along with tracking performance and measuring ROI. 
  • Tailor your content - Content is crucial for marketers and sellers as a way to attract and engage prospects. You can create a raft of great content but what matters is the content that will convert. Your sales team needs to feed into the marketing team so they can create tailored content that will help convert big and small accounts.
  • Cultivate your nurture funnel - Prospects require information at different times of their journey. For example, a blog will work well to bring a potential customer in but it will probably be a whitepaper or customer testimonial that may push them over the line. Understand the intent and needs of your customer at every stage. 
  • Modernize and digitize - It’s not enough to just put new systems and technologies in place, your sales and marketing staff need knowledge of digital skills. This requires both teams to understand how the lead process works and how to use online tools such as LinkedIn or a CRM to engage and convert prospects. 

“Digital skills are required for marketers, but it’s changing just as quickly in sales. A lot of traditional organizations have to think not about the in-person or the field based, but how do they create the omnichannel of connecting with the market? I think there’s a real opportunity to float all boats and upskill marketing and sales,” Olivia Kearney, CMO of Microsoft, in our report ‘Digital Marketing Skills, Industry & Technology for 2022 and Beyond’

What are the benefits of marketing and sales alignment?

There are many benefits to aligning your sales and marketing teams. It not only promotes better in-house collaboration but it allows the members of each department to learn more about what the others do. Let’s look at three major benefits to a business:

1. Enables an omnichannel strategy

It may seem like a buzzword but an omnichannel strategy is crucial when there are so many touchpoints for a customer - online and offline - in a business. 

An omnichannel strategy is all about delivering a seamless customer experience so no matter where a customer interacts with your business the journey is uninterrupted.  

What does this mean in the real world? Let’s say a lead is generated through a QR code in a print ad. This code will then direct a customer to a landing page that prompts them to provide information so they can download an ebook. This lead will then be passed onto a salesperson to make contact and discover their intent or move into an email funnel for nurture until they are qualified as a lead to be passed to a seller. 

Each of these interactions needs to be branded so it’s obvious who it’s from with relevant and tailored information (if possible). That’s the key to an omnichannel strategy: take every interaction into account when it comes to your customers.   

2. Gain better customer insights

If your marketing and sales teams work together it is much easier to gain important information about your prospects and customers. 

While marketers often have a broad perspective of an industry or prospect, sellers may have specific and actionable insights that the marketing team can use to tailor content for nurturing. You can get customer insights from:

  • One-to-one sales conversations
  • Surveys or polls
  • Customer feedback
  • Third-party data
  • Events e.g live webinars or social media livestream
  • Content engagement
  • A/B testing
  • Market research
  • Industry insights
  • Podcast listens 

It’s a combination of these two areas that can paint an accurate and detailed picture of a prospect or customer. Combine quantitative and qualitative data to build out your customer knowledge and create detailed personas to ensure a clear focus for all.

3. Drive Personalization

According to McKinsey, over three-quarters of consumers said that receiving personalized communications was a key factor in prompting their consideration of a brand, and 78 percent said such content made them more likely to repurchase.

Not only is personalization effective in engaging and nurturing leads but it’s effective in building customer loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases. The reason for this is that people love to be valued. If your business demonstrates an understanding and care for a customer, they are more likely to respond positively. 

The most effective way to drive personalization is through content. Marketing and sales teams can come together to discuss target accounts or similar prospects to create communications and campaigns that can attract and engage.  

How to align your sales and marketing teams

Now that you know the reasons for and benefits of aligning your sales and marketing teams, how do you do it? 

Focus on mindset and culture

Digital transformation is not just about the shiniest new technology, it’s about changing a mindset that embraces digital but also the journey required to compete in an online world. 

By embedding digital into processes and ways of working, your workforce will help cultivate a digital culture. This means encouraging transparency, driving collaboration, taking calculated risks, and offering training that enhances digital skills. 

Be creative

It can be difficult to stand out as a business so it’s important to have a differentiator. Can you create ‘cool’ experiences or offer your prospects and clients something others can’t?

The metaverse is an area that offers a new way to connect in an immersive way. Artificial Reality and Virtual Reality are also tools to use to create a new experience such as a 360 view of one of your stores or the production line for your product. It’s about being creative and reinventing the customer experience to not only stand out but deliver an interaction that will be remembered. 

“Let's start with understanding the customer need and reinventing the experience around it, not making it better, which is where organizations have gotten stuck for a while. And then let's light some fires. Let's start with little prototypes to make sure the thing that we're building is the right thing. And if it isn't, having the courage to kill it fast,” said Brian Corish, Experience Architect for Accenture Interactive in our recent podcast.

Upskill or train your teams

The fact is, digital transformation will not happen in your business without the cooperation and backing of your entire workforce. That’s particularly true for your sales and marketing teams as they are responsible for attracting and converting customers and so require the knowledge and digital skills to interact and influence online. 

With remote and hybrid working the norm for many businesses, many professionals are choosing jobs that offer a good work/life balance. This means it’s employees who are in the driving seat and it’s up to companies to offer career-enhancing perks such as in-house training and continuous professional development to attract and retain staff. 

LinkedIn’s 4th Workplace Learning Report found that 94 percent of professionals said they would remain loyal to their current business if it invests in their continual learning and development. That’s something to think about if you’re a business undergoing digital transformation.  

Conclusion: Marketing and sales alignment

As you can see there’s a lot to think about when it comes to your marketing and sales teams in regards to digital transformation. 

But when you achieve alignment, the benefits are endless and will not only create happy and cohesive teams but also drive customer engagement, leads, and sales to help your business compete and succeed in a digital world. 

Align your teams today to accelerate digital transformation

Empower your marketing and sales teams by offering digital training that provides industry-recognized certifications. DMI’s business education platform offers flexible learning pathways that are tailored to the unique needs of your business and staff. Get in touch today to unlock access to thousands of lessons across 14 different digital marketing and sales topics for your staff.

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