How to Align Sales and Marketing Teams
Tips for a Sales and Marketing Alignment Audit
Achieving true sales and marketing alignment is about more than holding the occasional meeting or simply ticking off boxes. Fundamentally, it’s about driving the changes that are needed for both organizations to work together toward their common goals. Ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are aligned is critical to the success of your business—we all know that, right?
Too often, though, what passes for “alignment” is just lip service. All the meetings, status reports and team-building activities in the world are for naught without a Strategic Demand Marketing approach and a playbook for delivering predictable, measurable results. True alignment happens when sales and marketing collaborate to deliver better customer experiences, measured by a singular KPI—revenue. And if marketing is not able to close the loop and connect leads all the way to revenue, then it’s a red flag that sales and marketing are misaligned.
Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Aligned?
Since sales and marketing alignment can have a major impact on your company’s bottom line, you’ve got to get it right. You’re looking for alignment across a number of areas, including the personnel across teams, the processes they follow, and even the technology they use. Here are some of the most important questions to help you determine if your sales and marketing teams are on the same page.
Marketing dashboards typically show what campaigns are running, how much traffic they’re driving to the website, and how many visitors are converting to “leads.” But ultimately, the only metrics that really matter are pipeline and sales.
Are you focused on the same metrics?
The fundamental mission of marketing is to consistently deliver the high-quality leads that sales needs to close deals and drive revenue. Marketing dashboards typically show what campaigns are running, how much traffic they’re driving to the website, and how many visitors are converting to “leads.” But ultimately, the only metrics that really matter are pipeline and sales.
To be successful, both sales and marketing need to focus on revenue. Marketing performance should be based on the leads that turn into opportunities and pipeline, while sales should close the loop on those leads and opportunities that become revenue. If either team is measured or rewarded against anything else, they’re invariably going to be misaligned.
Without a common lead management framework, you run the risk of marketing delivering leads that aren’t up to scratch or of sales cherry-picking leads based on how it’s being incentivized. Either way, communication gaps like these can easily create a major misalignment.
Are you speaking the same language?
Sales and marketing need to adopt a similar mindset. That should start with a mutual understanding of who their buyers are and how they’re going to prioritize them. It also needs to include a clear and mutually agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a “qualified lead.” Without a common framework, you run the risk of marketing delivering leads that aren’t up to scratch or of sales cherry-picking leads based on how it’s being incentivized. Either way, communication gaps like these can easily create a major misalignment. Avoiding them takes a level of discipline that’s virtually impossible to achieve with the occasional ad hoc meeting or a haphazard approach.
Do you have service level agreements in place?
It’s important for sales and marketing to have processes that everyone follows and that clearly define the rules of the road. For example, a good service level agreement (SLA) spells out when qualified leads will be delivered to sales, as well as how and to whom. Likewise, an SLA should dictate how sales is going to handle those leads and in what time frame they’ll be responsible for doing so. But simply having SLAs isn’t enough. To work, sales and marketing leaders need to be vigilant about ensuring that they’re consistently enforced. Otherwise, there’s no point in having them in the first place.
Have you agreed on how to score leads?
Lead scoring is critical for marketing to be able to deliver truly qualified leads to sales. It’s essential that both teams agree to how leads will be scored. Since the best lead scoring combines demographic, firmographic and behavior-based information, the teams will need to work together to decide how those various components affect scoring. These conversations should include a discussion of forms and what information is essential to capture, what can be gathered over time using progressive profiling, and what’s nice-to-have or can potentially be eliminated.
Achieving true alignment between sales and marketing is about more than holding the occasional meeting or simply ticking off boxes. Fundamentally, it’s about driving the changes that are needed for both organizations to work together toward their common goals.
Has everyone received adequate training?
Getting everyone on the same page doesn’t happen automatically. It requires regular education and training. All the more so given that sales can be a very fluid department and one that often experiences high levels of turnover. If new personnel are constantly rotating through, the only way to ensure that they’re up to speed on how things work is by offering regular and consistent training.
Are sales and marketing systems connected?
Most companies not only have many more technologies in place than they actually need, typically those technologies aren’t connected and don’t share critical data. That’s particularly true among sales and marketing teams. Although both are working toward the same ultimate goals, marketing automation platforms are rarely set up to seamlessly share information with customer relationship management tools.
There are significant benefits to having these systems connected, including being able to:
- Track and report on every step taken in the marketing and sales cycle so that you can understand what is and isn’t working and optimize your processes.
- Understand exactly how marketing is impacting revenue, including the exact percentage of revenue that’s sourced from marketing.
With insights like these, it’s much easier for sales and marketing to work together to help meet their common goals.
Make Sales and Marketing Alignment a Business Priority
If you answered no to any of the questions above, then there’s a good chance your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned. If that’s the case, and your business isn’t equipped to tackle change management at that level, you may want to turn to an experienced and objective third party for help. ANNUITAS, for example, is well-versed in aligning sales and marketing teams, and has a proven track record of doing so in order to help organizations drive greater revenue. Let’s Connect.
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