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Sales and marketing alignment has been a long-time dream for those trying to make a buck with their wits. Even though dynamic & evolving, both sales & marketing date as far back as mankind existed. In layman’s terms, marketing refers to the activities that create a product & the avenue for its exchange while sales are offering the product at a price.
Everyone has something or the other to sell. It’s said that in the olden days where there was no money, farmers who cultivated yams exchanged them for an equivalent quantity of meat, clothing & whatever other people had. This is said to form a basis for explaining how sales & marketing had their origins.
Sales and marketing alignment was never a problem then primarily because the ways of business were not as complex as now. But as time & technology have progressed sales and marketing alignment turned up to become a real damn issue, mainly due to mass production of goods during the industrial age. Sales guys started being taught that their only priority is quota attainment while marketers became the keepers of the brand, gurus of strategy & sages of creativity. But today the bloom is off & both teams stand naked on the plains of unpredictable revenue.
Previously sales and marketing alignment was completely out of the picture as they were busy throwing jabs, right hooks & under the belt punches as they blamed each other for low growth numbers. Both teams are now realizing that the real fight is about the customer. B2B sales & marketing leaders have now come to the conclusion that customer is their new boss who is calling the shots & it’s better to abandon the traditional charts, to invest in newer models, teams with new skill sets & flex their internal political clout to change how other departments treat customers.
The buyer has changed more in the last 10 years than in the last 100 years. The modern buyer is in control by being digitally driven, socially connected & mobile empowered with nearly unlimited access to information & people. This has led to the serious need for integration between sales and marketing teams.
This means it’s all about the customer that is driving sales and marketing alignment in today’s world. A proper sales and marketing alignment strategy can go a long way to help these teams work together to make the entire process as smooth as possible.
“Companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.” – Aberdeen Research Group.
“Only 8% of companies have strong sales and marketing alignment.” – Forrester Research.
It’s critical for sales & marketing leaders to learn from the field and to apply it across the entire team. Sales and marketing alignment is essential for producing content that enables the buyer to make decisions quickly & thus improve the chances of closing deals. This can be made possible by:
“It takes some executive commitment at the C-level of the company, then an agreement with your marketing and sales leaders that this is something that’s important” – Fergal Glynn, vice president of marketing at Docurated.
The first step in sales and marketing alignment is by making sure that the goal comes from the top level within the company. This will make sure that the agreement within the teams has some weight.
The management can also bring a fresh pair of eyes who will directly work on sales and marketing alignment. This individual can directly work with each team to properly direct where content marketing assets are kept & how they are organized, keep CRM systems aligned & organized & help marketing and sales leaders craft effective analytics tools.
It’s a known fact that disagreement about messaging is the common cause of sales & marketing tension. Marketers have been complaining that sales are not doing enough follow-ups while salespeople are frustrated with marketing for not sending leads that match their buyer personas.
“It has turned out that both are right. Studies show sales reps ignore 50% of marketing leads” – hubspot.
“61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, yet only 27% of those leads are qualified” – hubspot.
So, to bridge this gap it’s essential for sales & marketing champs to establish a proper communication model that allows for regular check-ins & a free flow of information between teams.
Sales and marketing alignment should be focused to solve what sales & marketing need and how to provide it. Once the solution for that is found out, it’s important to hold regular status meetings to check in, report any progress & discuss areas of improvement.
By definition “a contract is a voluntary agreement between two or more parties that is enforceable by law as a binding legal agreement”. An SLA is a formal contract between sales & marketing that details what each team will be accountable for. It should be created & discussed during the regular sales & marketing meetings. It’s important to set goals for both the departments & determine the specific metrics that’s used to measure success.
Marketing goals should include things like number of leads, number of qualified leads, revenue, average deal size, etc. while sales goals should include follow up time, follow up frequency, percentage of marketing-generated leads that sales should follow up, etc. All this should be clearly defined in the SLA as it enables to neutralize the conflict between the teams which arise because of no set rules. SLA functions as a rule book that defines how the teams should operate. Ensuring a decent SLA template will go a long way in sales and marketing alignment.
It’s easy for marketers to get caught up in the campaigns that are focused solely on the feedback got from the sales. This might lead to a blind spot when it comes to what the customer really wants. In the same way, sales can easily lose track of quality when they solely focus on the quantity of calls/ emails made each day.
While it’s true that sales and marketing alignment is essential for business growth, it should never get in the way of the boss – customer. If the departments have met their goals but customers aren’t happy then true sales and marketing alignment will remain to be a dream only.
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“Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate.” – Aberdeen Research Group.
Finally sales and marketing alignment comes down to one shared goal: Revenue that is delivered every quarter. But you should never forget to have fun & get to know each other as people. This will help to build trust among team members & ensure that people feel comfortable while leaning on each other for support.
Also read on: JOURNEY FROM RAW DATA TO ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS & BOOST YOUR LEAD ENGAGEMENT WITH THESE TWEAKS
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