The business world has fallen into this idea that sales and marketing are two entirely separate pursuits. The different job descriptions, different skill sets, and different managerial hierarchies all help further ingrain this illusion—but an illusion is exactly what it is.
Sound controversial? Well, it shouldn’t be. It doesn't mean that everyone on your sales team can necessarily do what your marketers can do or that all of your marketers can do what your sales team can do (but who knows?—some of them might be able to). What it does mean is that your sales team and your marketing team can't be two separate silos working in isolation from one another. Rather, they are two specialized faces of the same operation aiming for the same shared success.
So it's always critical to have your sales and marketing teams aligned—taking the same cues, kicking around ideas during the same meetings, and directing their efforts and energy toward the same goals.
When we're talking about channel sales and channel marketing, alignment is even more important than in other business relationships. When you're trying to build and maintain a partner program and make it thrive, there are a lot of people throughout the program who need to be kept in the loop—and need to be furnished with a consistent view of your brand and your product in order to present it correctly.
Having the latest sales technology in place can get all of your teams throughout your channel communicating effectively in a virtual environment that makes key discussions simple to manage. But if your sales and marketing teams are using the software to communicate along two parallel channels, rather than with one another, the value of the technology is going to hit a limit on each side.
On the other hand, if your channel sales and channel marketing teams have their goals and strategies aligned, the sales acceleration technology you use can carry your channel to uncharted territory—and unprecedented success. And the most important part of aligning sales and marketing is aligning content.
While things like interdepartmental trainings, meetings, and initiatives are all critical to getting your teams working more closely together, having them bring their expertise to build out useful content is at the heart of alignment. It's the shared project that all collaboration should point to. That's because content is the mouthpiece by which your brand speaks its voice to your partners, their clients, and the world—and both your sales team and your marketing team need to contribute to that voice to make it well-rounded and fully representative of what your solution can do and reflective of what your partners' customers really need.
As two sides of the same coin, sales and marketing experience the needs of partners slightly differently. Marketing sees the brand positioning within the context of the broader advertising landscape—of what's on trend, what can grab eyeballs, and what the consumer landscape as a whole is looking for. Sales, on the other hand, is going in deep with individual partners and seeing exactly how they're deploying your solution with customers and what pain points they're experiencing.
Taking these two views—macro and micro—together, and getting your sales and marketing teams working together on creating content that reflects both of their observations, you can support your partners with content that's both highly effective and meticulously targeted. Understanding partner needs will ensure that you're communicating with them in a way that isn't either overwhelming or underwhelming. And using marketing's top-tier branding skills will let you hone the insights and observations of the sales team into catchy collateral that your partners will be excited to share with customers and potential buyers.
Why is content so central to channel success? Because partners have questions—their own questions and the ones they have coming from their clients as well. Rolling out content that clearly answers these questions and offers suggestions on increasing the effectiveness and appeal of the product will make doing business a seamless endeavor.
Once sales and marketing are aligned to assess partners' needs and create content to meet them, then it’s time to use that cutting-edge technology to get the content to partners in a user-friendly fashion.