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What Political Campaigns Can Teach Us About Sales and Marketing Alignment

Oct 24, '16 / by Neil Hayes

What Political Campaigns Can Teach Us About Sales and Marketing Allignment

"There are so many similarities between a start-up venture and a political campaign – the rhythm, the tempo, the hours and the intensity" Former press secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration

Watching the current presidential election can sometimes seem like viewing a carnival of the absurd through a fun-house mirror. We can’t avert our eyes, even when we watch through splayed fingers.

We can only imagine the complex interactions that go on behind the scenes of a successful campaign, where each day brings new and unforeseen challenges. Data is constantly being collected, interpreted and shared. Priorities must be communicated, contingencies made, controversies addressed and strategies designed amid the shifting sands of news cycles, changing world events and an ever-evolving electorate.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of insight here that can apply to your own business, particularly when it comes to sales and marketing alignment. The future of the free world might not hang in the balance—but it sure can feel equally important.

The level of communication and cooperation it takes to run a successful political campaign is strikingly similar to the coordination it takes to get your sales and marketing teams working together to share information, target the right customers, close sales and increase revenue.

Typical election-season hyperbole? Here’s what the data says.

  • A Forrester Research study concluded that only eight percent of B2B companies have a properly balanced sales-marketing alignment. Consequently, 92 percent of companies are out of sync and therefore less effective.

  • According to App Data Room and Marketing, optimum cooperation between sales and marketing can make a company 67 percent better at closing deals and generate 209 percent more value from marketing.

  • It’s no surprise, then, that IDC concluded in a 2013 survey that an inability to align sales and marketing can cost a company 10 percent or more in revenue every year, while a strong relationship between these two critical components can lead to 20 percent growth rates.

Whether you’re a campaign manager, a volleyball coach or a CEO, it boils down the same thing: bringing people together to achieve a common goal with purpose and continuity.

It’s about accountability and constantly raising the bar. It’s knowing individual attitudes and actions impact the whole. It’s building a team and creating a culture that spawns excellence in a highly competitive arena.

Related Content: Building Your Best Content Marketing Team: How Hungry Is Your Talent?

What’s more frustrating than a sales team failing to close an important client because they didn’t have the answers to the client’s big questions? Perhaps when the marketing group later realizes they not only had the answers but had communicated them to the sales team weeks before?

Better sales enablement strategies might be a better solution.

Sales enablement is a collection of tools typically created by the marketing team to help the sales team execute vital tasks, including:

  • Targeting prospects
  • Delivering the right information during sales calls
  • Managing major accounts most effectively

Creating these sales enablement tools is a two-way street. Marketing and sales need to coordinate and share background, information and insights. Marketing needs to be able to develop the right assets and make sure sales understands how to use them, and sales needs to acknowledge the assets and incorporate them into their selling procedures.

Questions your marketing team should ask to maximize sales-marketing alignment:

  1. What gaps do sales reps currently have when talking with prospects? What do they need? What content do they wish they had?

  2. What business questions do buyers have, and how do these questions evolve as they progress through the buying journey?

  3. How can content fill these gaps and answer these critical questions? Think about the end goal and work backwards to determine the best approaches to reaching that goal.

  4. What’s the best way to get that information into the rep’s hands? What’s the best way to make sure reps know when and how to use that information?

These questions sound an awful lot like the role of a campaign manager preparing the candidate for a debate. Ultimately, providing great information isn’t enough. The candidate needs to be able to convince the electorate that he or she shares their vision and is the only option to make it happen.

In politics and in business, success boils down to your ability to find your voice and get the word out there.

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Topics: Strategy

Neil Hayes
Written by Neil Hayes

Neil Hayes was an author and award-winning journalist before moving into business-and-marketing writing. He wrote the best-selling book "When the Game Stands Tall," which was made into a major-motion picture in 2014, and has co-authored two other books.

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