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Strategy

8 Tools to Keep Your Marketing, Sales and Customer Success Teams Aligned

Instead of letting marketing, customer success, and sales argue over which is most effective for your business, they need to combine forces. Here's why

Ben Jacobson
April 26 2018

Too many organizations are structured to have distinct, siloed teams for marketing, sales and customer success. Sure, these are separate functions, and the types of messaging used for each is indeed different. On the other hand, do your sales reps want marketing to hand them leads who are unlikely to find your product useful? Do your success reps have any chance of keeping your paying customers engaged and using your product if sales made unreasonable promises? These three units do best when they’re aligned, like it or not. If these guys are going to attract more prospects, close more deals and keep clients happy with an eye on the long haul – that is, if they’re supporting a business that places emphasis on retaining customers – then you need be careful to incentivize the right things. No wonder you see these thought pieces all the time on LinkedIn where an aspiring futurist exclaims that “Customer Success Is the New Sales,” or “Marketing Is the New Success,” and all the other combinations you can think of.

Instead of letting marketing, customer success and sales argue over which is most effective for your business overall, they need to combine forces and help each other succeed. All three teams work towards a lot of the same goals, especially outward-facing ones like building and maintaining relationships with customers and maximizing revenue. They each contribute in different ways, and none could carry your business on its own. So instead of competing, they need to work together in complete alignment. That alignment requires making sure you’re on the same page with goals, workflows and customer data. The more easily your teams can work together, the more easily they can reach their common goals. Think of the transition from lead to customer.

The second a customer converts, liaising responsibilities likely shift from sales to customer success – they may need to do some research, make a call, trigger some email sequences or whatever else. If they don’t receive all the customer’s info from the sales team or it takes two weeks to do so, that impacts the customer’s onboarding experience, which can, in the worst cases, prompt churn. You need the handoff to be seamless. That means your customer-facing teams working together well and often – and using tools that do the same. Here are some favorites.

#1 Dispatch Personalized CTAs with Drift Messaging

Drift’s various website and messaging tools help you drive real-time conversations with your customers at any point in the relationship, which is why the company has coined the phrase “conversational marketing.”

Instead of offering a marketing lead magnet or sales pushes all over your website, you can start personalized conversations, and any member of your team can jump into the conversation depending on who can best serve the audience member at hand. Use it for onsite chat, cross-channel engagement drips or even in-app tips.

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It lets marketing, sales, and customer success teams all talk to customers and build relationships more easily, with all the lead information easily synced to other tools you rely on.

This means it can impact your team’s work on multiple levels. Six and Flow, for example, was able to generate 23% more leads and shorten their sales cycle by 33%, using Drift.

#2 Tap into Each Others’ Expertise with Smarp

Smarp is a content and communication hub that makes employee communication and advocacy easy across departments. Teams can use it to share information about in-house initiatives, industry news that they need to know, and hold discussions.

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Since you can use the platform for both sharing internal info and driving advocacy campaigns by offering content share suggestions, Smarp is great for creating content informed by subject matter experts, keeping business units looped in on one another’s projects, and uniting social media presences across your team. IT service company Enfo invested a lot in producing content but didn’t have the audience for it. Smarp helped them share the content with different departments for both internal and external use. As a result, they increased traffic by 15%.

#3 Merge All the Metrics with Google Data Studio

Yes, each team will have KPIs on their own, like sales’ deals closed and marketing’s unique visitors or qualified leads and the customer success team’s churn rate. But they still share big-picture goals for the business. It’s in each other’s best interests to be transparent and share all important data that impacts those goals. Google Data Studio makes tracking and sharing progress easier through data visualizations, reports and dashboards that bring together all team activities. You can also easily share these reports with other teams, so that, for example, your customer success team can keep an eye on how the sales and marketing efforts are performing. That way, they can see if something like a big surge in new leads will impact their own workload down the line.

#4 Understand Journeys with Segment

Of course, your teams need to share more than the end results of their work with each other. But in the day-to-day execution of their jobs, everyone’s working in different tools housing different data and customer info. Segment works well as the bridge between them all, “unblocking every team” in the process.

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What it does is sync data from different data platforms and keep all customer profiles from different tools, from your websites and mobile apps to your email and analytics providers, up-to-date. This way, customer info isn’t siloed across different apps with no clear, single view of what you know about them.

#5 Track Every Touchpoint with HubSpot’s CRM

HubSpot’s growth stack has quality products for all three teams we’re focusing on today. And of course, they all integrate seamlessly and are designed to work together and help their respective teams do the same. The HubSpot CRM helps sales teams manage deals and contacts generated through marketing techniques using their inbound tools. Plus, they all integrate with other important tools, so as soon as you generate a new qualified lead through a form on your site, it will be sent into your sales pipeline. From there, your sales team can view everything you know about a contact and log anything new: contact info, interaction history across channels, and more. And when success reps want to reach out to a customer, they’ll be able to see what content the customer viewed on your site, which of your social posts she clicked on, what she’s bought in the past and more – all in a handy timeline interface.

#6 Talk Amongst Yourselves with Slack

Where would anyone at a tech-forward company be without Slack? Out of the loop, at the very least. Lovingly called an “email killer” by many, Slack has reinvented the way teams interact with each other, their customers, and the other tools they use on a daily basis. Through shared rooms, sales, marketing, and customer success can easily communicate on any projects or resources. So instead of playing a constant game of “find the email thread,” you an organize chats into topics and let the collaboration flow. Slack also supports direct messaging, threaded discussions, group calls and screen sharing. Through integrations (with other tools on this list, for example), your teams can see what’s happening outside of Slack in each other’s departments. And of course, the Giphy integration is great for keeping each other entertained and motivated.

#7 Unearth Red Flags with Promoter.io

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Customer feedback is crucial to each team mentioned here. Marketing and sales need it to proactively create campaigns and conversations that speak to what customers want and what problems they have. Customer success needs to deliver those wants and solve those problems. Being in tune to it all is a continuous process that could easily get complicated. Fortunately, Promoter.io makes collecting and managing user feedback incredibly simple. Between their NPS survey emails, triggered follow-up options, and reporting, you can easily route feedback to the most appropriate teams. For example, feedback from detractors should probably be sent to customer success to think about, while marketing will want to get promoters engaged as advocates.

#8 Maintain Progress with Trello

Finally, along with Slack, Trello is one of the best ways for any parts of your team to organize, communicate, and collaborate. When it comes to sharing information such as project timelines, company wikis, and to-do lists for collaborations, it’s a sanity saver. Trello lets you lay all information and projects out in a way that makes it easy to focus, but it’s still all easily located in one tool any team member can access. Use it to compile assets associated with projects, to assign tasks to one other with deadlines and to maintain a bird’s eye view of progress. Trello’s email integrations are superb, so if you’re used to living in your inbox, you’ll get alerts there of anything relevant to you. And by pulling in information from other tools, it can easily become your team home base for all kinds of collaborative projects.

Work together

Consider how well your team’s tools talk to each other. If they don’t communicate or work together as well as you know your actual team needs to, then they’re getting in the way of your business. Use the right tech stack to keep marketing, sales and success in tune with each other – and bind their success to one another. You’re likely to see retention rates soar in the process.

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Ben Jacobson

Ben Jacobson is a marketing strategy consultant who specializes in content, social media and influencer marketing for B2B firms. He contributes regularly to publications including MarketingLand, Search Engine Journal and the Orbit Media blog.

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