How Does Your Marketing and Sales Alignment Stack up in 2019?
March 19, 2019 | Karo Sadowicz
Marketing and sales alignment has become a conference main stage darling over the past few years, and we realize its potential to drive dramatic success for companies today. And while tightly aligned marketing and sales departments are undoubtedly critical for your business’ long term success, new research suggests that the marketing and sales alignment fantasy is far from the reality most organizations find themselves in today.
The Miller Heiman Group surveyed 900 sales leaders, revealing that most are struggling with serious gaps in their sales processes, and a lack of marketing alignment. We’ll walk through some of the key findings from emerging research below, and explore how you can address these issues in your company—so buckle up, and let’s see how your marketing and sales alignment stacks up.
66% of sales leaders say their organization needs improvements or a major redesign in how they capture new business.
While this stat could initially seem like it speaks to a broader selling issue than sales and marketing alignment, sentiments speaking to breakdowns in processes on the new business side of things are a classic red herring for failed marketing and sales alignment.
In organizations with tightly aligned marketing and sales teams, capturing new business is the outcome of creative campaign planning and cohesive messaging built jointly by marketing and sales. But when sales leaders report only ⅓ of revenue is from new accounts, we clearly have a problem here.
When thinking about lead generation, our first reaction is often to think quantity, not quality. But today’s buyers operate differently, and generating leads that actually convert into revenue for your business requires uncovering whether a prospect is simply interested, or is actually displaying intent to buy.
Less than one-third (30%) said they have a common definition for leads.
Research suggests that not only do a shocking number of organizations lack a formal definition for leads between sales and marketing, but the number of organization who report not even having an informal understanding between departments of lead definitions is on the rise.
This means, on the most basic level, that communication between sales and marketing teams industry-wide is atrophying. When mission-critical details, like definitions of leads, aren’t clearly understood across departments, there’s little hope of building deeper, more productive alignment.
While the simple solution to this problem would be to sit marketing and sales down together and hash out a few quick definitions, the lack of interdepartmental understanding of concepts speaks to a broader breakdown of communication within your organization.
If you find yourself within the 70 percent of companies missing a formal lead definition, don’t band aid your problem with a meeting where you define your MQL and SQL and call it a day. Instead, work to institute monthly or even weekly opportunities for your teams to connect and build common ground, from editorial meetings, team lunches, or any consistent opportunity to get your marketing and sales teams thinking together about what is working, and what isn’t.
Only 34% have a formal process between marketing and sales for nurturing prospects and handing them off between departments.
The breakdown in processes we see here is one of the more common ways that sales and marketing efforts falter. When only one in three organizations have a formal process outlined for the transfer of nurturing and hand off of leads between marketing and sales, there are ample opportunities for missed revenue.
Not to mention, buyer journeys are becoming more complex, and prospects are engaging sales later in the process, after they’ve conducted their own research and explored marketing content. That means the transition from marketing ownership of a lead to a sales taking over is critical.
Start by evaluating how well-equipped your organization is to answer the question of when marketing leads should be transferred to a sales team. Do you have a simple activity-based lead scoring model calling all of the shots in your transfer process? Developing a more sophisticated lead scoring model based on the right sales qualifying questions could be just what your team needs to help uncover where your process is falling flat.
So how do you stack up?
Research makes it clear that if your business isn’t sporting a dynamic duo relationship between sales and marketing yet, you’re not alone—in fact, you’re in very good company. But that also means there is a substantial opportunity for companies who can move quickly to align departments and build processes that solve for breakdowns in communication between teams. If you’re looking for practical tips to start aligning your marketing and sales teams, start here.