4 Best Practices for Aligning Sales and Marketing Internationally
Sales and marketing alignment is already a challenge, but it’s even more difficult when your company is expanding internationally. In addition to thinking about how to adapt sales content and processes to account for new markets, you also have to consider how to keep sales and marketing teams on the same page across time zones and large distances. The following four sales and marketing alignment best practices will provide you with the tactics you need to encourage sellers and marketers to work together and overcome the challenges that come from expansion and internationalization.
1. Set a Foundation at Home
An organization’s sales and marketing alignment needs an established foundation at home before it succeeds in a new country. Research shows that organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams have 38% higher sales win rates and 36% higher customer retention rates. So, before you set your sights on globalizing, be sure your sales and marketing strategies have proven to be effective on your home turf.
Organizations may also benefit from tools that help assess sales and marketing alignment. This can help companies identify what works and what doesn’t. Once established, they can then take that information to form a set of unique sales and marketing alignment best practices for their organization. When the company expands, these practices can serve as a foundation to build upon so they don’t have to start from scratch.
A simple foundation for sales and marketing alignment might include:
- Active and regular communication
- Sharing metrics and data
- Clearly defined processes, roles and expectations
2. Study the New Culture Together
For marketing and sales alignment to work smoothly in a new country, the entire sales and marketing team needs to understand the new culture inside and out. Sales and marketing strategies should reflect the unique cultural context to which they are selling, and to do that well, sellers and marketers both need to have extensive knowledge of the area.
Marketing and sales alignment is just as important as getting each individual team on board. These teams can work together to understand the culture. Sellers can advise marketers with their cultural knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Marketers can then set sellers up for success by providing them with well-researched sales content that will reach that specific region.
Because sellers will interact more with individuals, they should study cultural norms and taboos to avoid embarrassing themselves or insulting potential customers. For example, while gift exchange is not a common business practice in England, it is expected in Japan. But not all gifts are created equal, and certain gifts carry negative superstitions and can leave a bad first impression. If sellers do not realize these types of cultural expectations, they can damage a sale without even knowing why.
Marketing teams must also understand the cultural expectations. If an organization is setting up a marketing plan in Dubai, they should know that people there appreciate modesty and sophistication. Sales content, then, should reflect these values. Instead of having flashy, boastful content, marketers should create sleek, modern, and understated material. Since people in Dubai often value long-lasting professional relationships, marketers may also want to brush up on their social selling practices.
Both teams can also benefit from keeping up with users or buyers on the internet or through follow-up conversations. Check Twitter posts, Facebook reviews, and other online content in the new area to see how people have publicly responded to your content. Feedback survey programs can help gather information to see what specific content, strategies, or tools were most positively received. Marketers can use that data to provide sellers with more content that will work every time.
3. Make Adaptation Easy With a Sales Stack
Just like any new business venture, research can only take you so far. The real work happens in the action, and the action is often unpredictable. Business practices constantly evolve across the world, and as new information comes into play, companies must adapt their sales and marketing strategies. When marketing and sales alignment is off, adaptation becomes much more difficult.
Adaptation requires regular, productive communication between teams. Sellers should be able to reach out to marketing while staying focused on the sale. They need easy access to sales content, playbooks, and other sales tools that they may need at any point in the field. Modern communication tools allow marketers to easily send updated content to sellers and access older material if necessary. They can even analyze a piece of content’s effectiveness and receive feedback from the sellers who use it.
In a globalized business, a good sales stack is essential to keep your teams aligned and give them freedom to adapt. With the digitization of these tools, any organization can greatly improve their sales and marketing team structure by giving them easy access to one another. Software can help simplify adaptation with tools like customer relations, sales enablement, or email marketing, making communication efficient and accessible.
4. Create a Habit of Communication
All aligned teams communicate with one another. This may sound simple or obvious, but even teams that work in the same building struggle with this. It only gets worse when there are time zone differences, language barriers, and distance.
It’s important that to have a sales and marketing team structure that fosters open, productive communication. Marketers need access to the sellers, and vice versa. Organizations can use communication tools, scheduling apps, or sales enablement software to help eliminate confusion and make communication clear. Sales enablement even offers simple ways to share metrics and data analytics between departments, which can greatly reduce the amount of confusing or miscommunicated information. When both teams can keep up with each other, they can know how to best help get the product or solution into the customer’s hand.
Expanding a company includes new challenges and difficulties, but at the core, sales and marketing team responsibilities remain the same. They are there to show how a product or solution meets the buyer’s needs. Following these four sales and marketing alignment best practices will help any organization reach their customers no matter where they are headed next.