By Emily Suess

With a new year and a fresh start, it’s a good time to start thinking about the different ways you can improve your small business. You might begin building your business by making it more efficient, perhaps streamlining the customer checkout process, starting a new employee training program, or integrating your sales and marketing teams.

You can’t go wrong with any of these ideas, but integrating your sales and marketing team can be particularly beneficial. It can shorten the sales cycle, bring in more and better leads, and help you increase revenue through reduced marketing costs and larger customer purchases. Use the following tips to get started.

1. Join forces and nurture leads together.

Instead of having your sales team generate a sales plan and your marketing team generate a marketing plan, bring both groups together to build a single, more efficient plan.

Traditionally, the marketing team provides leads and the sales team interacts with them. An artificial line has been drawn where one group’s responsibilities begin and the other’s end. Instead of the marketing team dropping a pile of cards in the lap of your sales team, smooth the transition by having the marketing team deliver a thank you offer or free trial which opens the door for your sales team to continue the conversation.

2. Ask both teams to collaborate on white papers and other marketing resources.

A lot of time and money go into marketing resources, particularly company white papers. But these resources shouldn’t just be used to entice prospective customers. The sales team can also use white papers to generate new interest from existing customers by introducing them to new offerings or emphasizing the benefits of upgrading to a bigger, better product.

3. Repurpose all of your marketing resources.

To expand on the previous item, look for other resources that can be repurposed and used effectively by both your sales and marketing teams. Turn press releases into blog posts, website copy, newsletter topics, event video reels, and more. That way, marketing and sales messages are in sync.

4. Track sales and marketing data together.

You can use professional lead-tracking software or collect and compile your own data in spreadsheets you create yourself, but the important thing is to make sure that marketing data and sales data can be viewed together. This gives you the complete picture of how your customers make it from first touch to final sale.

5. Stop doing what doesn’t work.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of integrating sales and marketing is that teams can inform each other when something doesn’t work. Then, rather than just continue with old habits, the teams can work together to enhance the program from start to finish. The quicker you realize that your company’s efforts aren’t producing results, the quicker you stop the leak of money to unsuccessful programs.

So, as you begin the new year, use these tips to bridge the gap between marketing and sales to bring in more qualified leads.