Practical Guide to Sales and Marketing Alignment

TAP CXM
17 Oct 2022

The Path to Alignment: Your Practical Guide to Sales and Marketing Alignment

Business leaders often talk about “getting on the same page” and “aligning”. It’s not empty rhetoric; aligning sales and marketing functions can overhaul your business from the inside out.

Sales and marketing alignment produces a ripple effect that can lead to higher revenues, more effective marketing, better customer experiences, and more leads converted.

Both teams already have the same high-level goals. They’re on a mission to increase revenue and grow the business. 

Here’s how to ensure that alignment flows through to the people, processes and systems interacting with customers.

How sales and marketing alignment benefits your business

Sales and marketing alignment is one of the most potent opportunities to grow your business. Getting it right can deliver immediate returns in more effective marketing campaigns, and long-term benefits that contribute to growth.  

More conversions

MarketingProfs found that sales and marketing alignment yields up to 38% higher sales win rates and 36% higher retention rates. 

Many older (read: BC, Before COVID) statistics cite figures like 208% marketing revenue growth and 32% year-on-year revenue growth (both mentioned in this Marketo article).

Better customer experience

In a 2020 Forrester survey commissioned by LinkedIn, 90% of B2B sales and marketing professionals agreed that aligning initiatives and messaging improves the customer experience. 

Higher efficiency and productivity

The same LinkedIn report showed that 85% of professionals thought sales and marketing alignment was the most significant opportunity to improve business performance. 

Cross-organisational collaboration

Aligning sales and marketing strategies to deliver customer value fosters a culture where 89% of sales and marketing professionals trust each other. 

Common stumbling blocks for sales and marketing alignment

We can all agree that aligning sales and marketing benefits businesses, customers and teams. Why, then, do 97% of teams struggle to align on the basics like content and messaging? 

  • Fatigue from past failures
  • Customer value is not driving content creation
  • Sales ignore marketing leads
  • Marketing content does not address customer needs
  • Lead handling processes are undefined
  • Tools and systems are not integrated
  • Workflows are too complicated
  • Data is not being collected or handed over

Siloes develop through a lack of understanding, not ideology. The problems arise when strategy, process, content and/or culture fall out of sync (or fail to align in the first place). 

Teams who tried to align in the past and ran into roadblocks will be hesitant to try again. 

But it’s a different world now, and there are more effective alignment techniques and tools that make the process painless.

 

How to align sales and marketing diagram

Components needed to align sales and marketing

This is the part where we deliver the disappointing news. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet for sales and marketing alignment. 

True alignment requires four core components working together: strategy, people, process and technology.

Strategy

The most important takeaway is: customer value must be the foundation of sales and marketing strategies.

With customer value as your alpha and omega, it’s easier for marketing and sales to co-create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and agree on shared goals.

Strategic goals connect to marketing campaign targets and sales quotas. These move at different cadences, with marketing campaigns often targeting long-term growth while sales work on short-term quotas. 

But if sales and marketing have a co-created strategy that focuses on customer value, the different cadences form a harmonious rhythm rather than a jarring discord.

If your organisation faces resistance when aligning sales and marketing strategies, try reframing the initiative. Focus on the customer value that will result. Find language that reminds both teams that they’re chasing the same goals. Use the opportunity to mature from lead-based sales and marketing strategies to an account-based approach.

Being transparent about the value of sales and marketing alignment can help reduce friction and create a more effective revenue generation strategy. 

Roles

Another place siloes arise is in a misunderstanding of roles and responsibilities. Both marketing and sales functions intrinsically focus on revenue generation, but alignment breaks down because the teams perceive their contributions differently.

In co-creating a customer-focused strategy, define the roles and responsibilities clearly. Put them on paper. Map the lead handover process. Don’t force collaboration; instead, call on sales and marketing teams to agree on the scope of their contribution.

If you’ve read our recent article on account-based marketing (ABM), you’ll already be making connections between alignment and ABM. Sales and marketing alignment supports a more efficient and effective nurture process because the target accounts are transparent, and both teams have the tools to engage on a deeper level. 

Processes and technology

Processes and technology are bundled together because one supports the other. Powerful platforms enable streamlined processes, and slick processes demand intuitive, integrated technology.

From the terminology your teams use to the ABM software that powers personalised communication, systems and technology must support the strategy and make life easier for both teams.

In practice, this means collaborating on cross-organisational processes:

  • Agreed definitions and criteria for leads
  • Shared target account list
  • SLAs between marketing and sales
  • Integrating marketing and sales systems
  • Regular check-ins and updates
  • Comprehensive profile for every buyer persona

It also requires powerful technology that surfaces insights and saves time:

  • Automating parts of the process, e.g. scoring, nurture journeys and lead handoff
  • Transparent measurement tools
  • Shared dashboards
  • Accessing customer data to identify target accounts
  • Combining first, second and third-party data from multiple sources
  • Marketing software that enables ABM initiatives

Although there’s no silver bullet, Marketo Engage delivers these capabilities better than most other market tools (in our opinion). For growing teams and ambitious alignment strategies, Marketo features time-saving automations, enables one-to-one communications, and surfaces insights that support ABM initiatives.

 


 

 

Share

Related posts