Trade shows are lead generation machines and sales relies heavily on them to build their pipeline. So you might assume your sales and marketing teams always work hand-in-hand across your entire trade show campaign. After all, marketing’s job is to create awareness and interest in your product or service which in turn feeds your sales pipeline.
But if you haven’t made collaboration a foundational element of your trade show efforts, you have to ask: how is it possible for that process to work like you intended if the two teams don’t work together?
It’s often the case that the two operate in their separate worlds with little meaningful contact. Failing to align sales and marketing lessens the impact of both and actually hampers the sales cycle.
Understanding Sales and Marketing Alignment
While there is some overlap in the sales and marketing roles, it doesn’t happen organically. It takes intentionality. The barriers to alignment may include:
Differing goals and metrics. Sales is focused on conducting meetings and closing sales while marketing concentrates on building awareness and generating leads.
Inadequate communications. This can be as simple as using different words to describe a company’s offering or as critical as failing to share relevant information between teams.
When sales and marketing don’t line up, companies miss the opportunities for better communications, fuller pipelines, and the stronger sales that collaboration offers. The bottom line? Misalignment negatively affects your bottom line!
The Front Line of Every Company. The Sales Team!
Aligning sales and marketing is not a new feat. It has just became more evident that event marketers need sales and vice versa. And your sales team is the key to gaining valuable insights.
Here are three questions to discuss with your sales team to MAXIMIZE your next trade show:
- How do you know what your audience thinks and feels?
Internet research is an excellent place to start, but you’ll only get so much information. Asking direct questions can get you more information. So how do you get direct access to clients and prospects? You guessed it! Your go-to internal partner, the sales team.
By getting buy-in from sales, you’ll get that direct access you always wanted. And that is where the gold is. There are a few ways to get those questions across to prospects. For EDE, surveys are the ideal way to get feedback. Make sure you are only asking a few questions and tell them how long it should take. The last thing you want is a prospect getting annoyed by a survey that takes 20 minutes to complete.
Be upfront and transparent, tell them what to expect. If it’s going to take 10 minutes, tell them. Long surveys that take too much time are not the type of surprise that people want. Sales can use their relationships to get buy-in from prospects. It is also another valuable touchpoint to show that you care what they think. Let them know the goal of the survey is to improve how you service their needs. With a little incentive, you also likely get higher quality responses. Understanding prospects’ minds is the foundation for creating personalized experiences.
- How do you know if your ideas will work?
There are no guarantees your idea is going to work no matter how many of your colleagues tell you how amazing it is. Although you obviously have all the best ideas, a great way to execute with confidence is by testing. But how do you test a big idea ahead of an event? You guessed it – by working with sales!
Think of it like A/B testing a marketing campaign. You can get a better sense of how the campaign will perform before putting all your eggs in one basket. Whether you are trying a new demo format, introducing gamification, or sharing a new presentation, offer up a preview. You’ll know which ones are home runs and which ones are duds. Testing gives you the opportunity to make adjustments before the big day. Execute with confidence!
- How can you get buy-in from sales in the first place?
For one thing, salespeople are always looking for talking points. There is nothing worse than sending an email or calling someone to say you’re just following up. If you’re feeding them new content that adds value, they are going to share it with their clients. If you tell them it is a sneak peek, they will hustle to test it out.
They will also give you honest feedback if they don’t like what they are seeing in the first place. Beyond new content to share, we’re talking about sales. If you give them a new competition with some incentive, you’ll see the group sprint to get it done.
Strategies to Align Sales and Marketing
Now that you’ve seen the importance of alignment, here’s a list of ways to make it happen:
- Identify shared goals for sales and marketing teams. Not every goal will be a fit for both teams. Identify common goals to guide planning, strategy, and execution.
- Collaborate on creating buyer personas/target accounts and attendees. This will help ensure you’re sending the right message to the right person at the right time.
- Schedule regular meetings and planning sessions and commit to information sharing. Again, alignment requires intentionality. Never assume.
- Implement systems for sharing and reviewing data. Creating a single source of truth accessible by both teams will help avoid confusion.
- Coordinate lead management and establish a handoff plan. What are the criteria for knowing when a lead is ready to hand off to sales? Decide early.
- Align content and messaging. Teams should agree on which content and messaging will connect with the prospects sales is targeting.
It’s not the cool gimmick or the latest trend that will help you create the slam dunk experience. It’s researching, understanding, and knowing your audience that will. The only way to do that is by aligning your event marketing team with the sales team. Both teams will be stronger as a result. So break down those barriers and get to work, together!