It’s time to face the music: marketing and sales departments rarely get along. It seems as though the larger the company, the larger the divide. Some of the most common complaints are that marketing doesn't give sales enough quality leads, and that sales aren't doing their part in closing the leads marketing gives them. To validate those perspectives, we surveyed 100 top sales leaders in the industry. Our research found that 68% believe that marketing isn't producing enough quality leads for sales teams. 

The sad truth is that sales and marketing misalignment is extremely common. Even worse, companies are suffering greatly from it. 

It's time to do something about this! 

What is Sales and Marketing Alignment? 

A company with aligned sales and marketing departments knows how to bring both teams together through  a shared communication system, strategy, and goals that enable marketing and sales to operate as a unified function. When a company succeeds in aligning its sales and marketing the benefits ripple outwards: revenue increases, the sales cycle shortens, and conversion rates improve along with forecast accuracy. 

On the other hand, unaligned sales and marketing teams can result in drawbacks.  A clunky handoff of leads or lack of communication can affect a buyer's perception of your business, resulting in lost deals and decreased revenue. With this contrast in mind, companies should strive to align sales and marketing in its goals and objectives, in order to deliver excellent customer experiences and generate revenue.

So what does alignment look like? Something like this: 

✓ Sales defines and influences the types of leads marketing works to attract and the content they create to do so. 

✓ Marketing communicates data and analytics to the sales team and shares content, resources, and information about qualified leads.

✓ Both teams work together to discuss what's working and what's not. Adjustments are made together. 

marketing vs salesEssentially, aligned sales and marketing teams result in the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. A workplace that fosters this synergy will also create collaboration and teamwork that allow both teams to share in the success and challenges of the other, inspiring further commitment to working through issues as a unit. 

How to Align Sales and Marketing

Sirius Decisions found that companies that align sales and marketing teams achieve 24% faster growth rates and 27% faster profit growth over a year period. So how can you achieve the same benefits? 

The first step in creating alignment is understanding where the issues lay. A survey found that the six biggest obstacles to sales and marketing alignment are:

  1. Lack of accurate/shared data on target accounts and prospects (43%) 
  2. Communication (43%)
  3. Use of different metrics (41%)
  4. Broken/flawed processes (37%)
  5. Lack of accountability on both sides (25%)
  6. Reporting challenges (21%)

To break out of these habitual problems, marketing must commit to supporting sales through every stage of the sales cycle by nurturing leads every step of the way. Companies can make an effort to accomplish this mission by following the best practices listed below.

6 Best Practices to Keep Sales and Marketing Aligned

  1. Create and identify buyer personas.
  2. Create shared goals.
  3. Track joint KPIs.
  4. Set up a joint action plan 
  5. Set up weekly meetings. 
  6. Use customer feedback. 

Create Buyer Personas

Creating buyer personas for all departments to reference and understand is crucial to your company’s success. When the personas differ across teams, messaging can be mistargeted and less effective. Without clearly defining buyer personas, you’re wasting time and resources.

By aligning your buyer personas between teams:

  • The marketing team will know what to write, whom to write to, and where to place content to deliver the highest ROI
  • The sales team will understand particular pain points the personas have and how to communicate the ways your product or service can solve them.

Create Shared Goals

As mentioned above, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Sales and marketing both own success and failure together, and since they must work together, they must both be working to achieve common goals. Sales activity metrics are essential as they showcase the team's performance and behavior.

Management needs to make it clear to their teams what the goals are that they’re working to achieve, as well as create a plan for achieving them.

Track Joint KPIs

Since sales and marketing teams should be on the same page with shared goals to achieve, both teams should measure the same KPIs, this will help measure sales and marketing alignment. Historically, sales teams are usually measured on numbers—new accounts, deals closed, etc.—while marketing teams are measured by lead quantity: quality, brand awareness, etc. Although these metrics are essential to each of the teams individually, when it comes to getting your sales and marketing departments in sync, you should consider measuring joint key performance indicators (KPIs).

By measuring joint KPIs, your team is uniting under one common goal. Management will get a great chance to analyze how the business is doing and ultimately how aligned their sales and marketing departments are.

Set Up an Action Plan 

After establishing these shared goals and what KPIs to track, you should create a plan for the two teams to work together to achieve these set goals. Creating an action plan that outlines a specific process for discussing goals and a path for reaching them is crucial and can be done collaboratively by both teams.

Set Up Weekly Meetings

Communication is probably the most important factor in successful alignment. Both departments need to come together to create strategies, learn about leads and prospects, and outline the resources both teams need to succeed in achieving set goals. A weekly meeting can facilitate this process. Not only will the two teams get face time, but the communication can flow openly. Does sales need marketing’s help with a piece of content? Does marketing need certain information on leads? 

Be sure to create a schedule and stick to it when it comes to the weekly meeting If you don’t set time aside in advance, you’ll struggle to find time later, when you will need it the most. 

Use Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is your company's most valuable tool. Your Voice of Customer (VOC) data can give you great insights into how your business operates. Sales often retain the most valuable feedback from customers during their sales calls. They receive valuable insights straight from the source, unfiltered. Encourage reps to discover potential customer pain points or customer's motivations to purchase. 

Marketing can use insights from your customers to help create messaging that resonates with your target audience.  At the same time, both departments can use this information to better understand what your customers really like about your product and what they don't.

Why marketing and alignment matters

Original image source.

We know that depending upon the scope of your organization and how well its teams already work together, aligning sales and marketing can seem challenging if not downright daunting. But the work is well worth the effort, and in this case, includes following a tried-and-true blueprint for bringing those two teams onto the same page. By implementing these six best practices and putting your best foot forward to following through on them, your company can expect to see more leads coming in and closing, resulting in the revenue growth that makes the effort worthwhile.

Posted by Sabrina Jowders
Sabrina Jowders
Sabrina Jowders is a Marketing Coordinator at LeadIQ. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in May 2019 with a B.S. in Business Administration: Marketing and a minor in Sales. She specializes in SEO.

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