Sales and Marketing Alignment: 45 Experts Explain How To Connect The Dots
October 3, 2017 | Robbie Richards
The B2B sales funnel has changed a lot.
Until recent years, the traditional selling process looked something like this:
- Marketing would hand leads off to the sales team.
- The sales team would attempt to close those leads.
Marketing did their thing. Sales did their thing. Departments operated in silos.
While this “us-vs-them” mentality may have worked back in the good old days, it doesn’t anymore.
Truth is: The modern B2B buyer journey has become far more complex.
Today, there is an average of 5.4 stakeholders involved in any given sale. On top of that, buyers are much more educated – 90% of the buying process is over before a salesperson talks to a lead.
As a result, sales teams are now leaning heavily on marketing teams to produce content that helps them tell a story, communicate value, and ultimately move the lead down the funnel from prospect to paying customer.
Companies that have adapted to this change are seeing real bottom line benefits:
- Aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth while less aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue – Forrester Research
- Organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates – MarketingProfs
- B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three year period – Sirius Decisions
And a number of other benefits:
Those numbers tell a pretty compelling story. Yet, many companies are still lagging behind.
A study by Aberdeen shows that 90 percent of marketers say that lack of sales and marketing alignment keeps them from reaching their marketing objectives.
This lack of alignment is costly for any organization. So, we decided to reach out to 45 marketing executives and ask the following question:
List your top 1-3 tips for B2B companies struggling to align their sales and marketing teams?
The goal was to uncover actionable tips you can implement to better align your sales and marketing teams, and ultimately close more deals.
Here are the responses.
45 B2B Marketing Experts Explain How to Align Sales and Marketing Teams for Your Business or Clients
Triblio | CMO
1: Align metrics and goals. When anybody shares the same goals, they tend to find a way to work together. Marketing celebrates only when sales does.
Some goals I’ve used to align with sales are installed base growth, churn reduction, and new logos acquired. When transitioning from lead to account based, I’ve also set goals that link lead funnel metrics to account metrics like revenue / lead; leads in target account segments; engagement / account.
My favorite new metric is using ABM technology that groups all my web metrics in Google Analytics by account. Content, CTAs, and web pathing decisions are all driven by the behavior of target accounts rather than all the visitors.
2: Align the organization. When I don’t yet have a field marketing team, each of my functional leaders is accountable to a sales division, and each sales leader works with one marketing leader.
This has two benefits:
Sales leaders don’t spend time with marketers from different functions like events, demand gen, web, and marcom. And, marketers start to think like sales. Instead of putting 100% of their efforts into their channels and functions, they think more account based.
3: Hire sales people for marketing positions. The best sales reps know how to qualify accounts, which helps in determining the best target accounts. They know how to communicate the value proposition which leads to the best messaging. They develop plans knowing what sales can actually execute. And, they hit their numbers which means they are achievement oriented.
Bonus tip: Spend one day a month in sales. Listen to calls. Attend prospect meetings. Observe sales in action so you can appreciate how difficult their job is.
If somebody in marketing complains about sales, I ask, would you like to work in sales? Most all the time, they say, “No”.
Orbit Media | CMO
The sales team knows what the market is asking for, the top questions, the top concerns. The marketing team knows how to publish great answers and promote content. Alignment happens when topics flow smoothly from sales to marketing. They meet, sales explains what prospects are asking about. Marketing writes it up, formats it, adds images and keyphrases, then publishes.
Now the sales team can send a link to that prospect and to every other prospect who asks that question forever after. As a bonus, the article may rank, get shared and meet marketing goals.
DocSend | Director of Marketing
Get on the same page about what success looks like.
- For total sales and marketing alignment, identify where your efforts overlap, and determine which success metrics you can both drive towards.
- For example, if it’s maintaining lead velocity from marketing hand off to sales follow-up, set up the closest thing to an SLA you can get, and figure out how you can capitalize on hot prospects in an efficient way.
- If you’re a marketer, ruthlessly prioritize.
- Marketing usually supports the entire organization, which includes requests from sales for fresh or more content. It’s easy to get bogged down. Prioritize sales content development based on how much impact the collateral will have, and whether it’ll help you drive your own enablement KPI.
If you’re not tracking the performance of your sales content, you should also start doing that immediately. If you’re a seller, enlighten your marketing team.
Sellers serve on the front lines of the sales process, talking to prospects and target accounts on a daily basis. You have information the marketing team might need, so make time to share that feedback with marketing at a regular cadence.
PureTech Systems | Vice President Marketing
1: Regular communication. Marketing should be communicating with sales all the time, but worse case, you need a face to face a few times a year to review new features, new content and collateral, but more importantly, it’s a chance to get their feedback as to what’s working and what is not. It is also important to touch base with each sales person, as everyone has their own style which may drive different marketing requirements.
2: Hand Off Agreement. Have an agreement in place, as to when a lead handoff is in order. Depending on your product, the point in the sales funnel where you hand off a lead may vary. It may also change by region, market or sales person. When given an opportunity, sales people typically don’t give up easily, so it’s important that they only received well qualified leads before you engage them in the hunt.
3: The win/loss analysis. The win/loss analysis is huge for marketing folks. Knowing why an opportunity was won or lost is treasure trove of actionable marketing data, but few companies take the time to do this.
If you win, the company gets busy making the delivery. If you lose, most people just want to sweep it under the rug, not analyze the failure. It’s also typical to never actually “lose” a sale, it just stays suspended in the sales queue forever. Taking the time to “honestly” assess wins & losses is a powerful step in aligning sales & marketing.
HealthJoy | Chief Marketing Officer
1: Meet regularly. At HealthJoy.com, sales and marketing meet frequently both on an adhoc basis and with more formal meetings. Communication is key to keep alignment between the two departments.
2: Get them involved with content creation. Sales might be too busy to create a lot of content but it’s always great to get them involved. They will usually have a unique perspective and might be closer to your customers than the marketing department on a daily basis. One of our most successful articles in the last few months “Reference-Based Pricing and HealthJoy” was actually written by someone in our sales departments.
3: Work trade shows together. We go to a lot of different trade shows and usually send a combination of marketing and sales people. It’s always a great way to align teams for a common goal.
Branch | Head of Enterprise Marketing
1: Build your revenue funnel starting from the bottom. Focusing on leads or campaigns too early would almost certainly drain your marketing budget. Take the best Closed/Won opportunities from your CRM and analyze the different stages, going back to the initial engagement. Once you have a solid sales funnel, and you know the conversion metrics from each stage, then you can identify the bottlenecks and develop a predictable model from lead to revenue.
2: The weakest point in the funnel is always the hand-off between marketing and sales. Sales believes that marketing leads are not qualified enough. Marketing claims that sales is not following up properly. Eliminate these arguments and increase efficiency by moving the Inbound SDR team under Marketing and assign a pipeline goal to the whole marketing team. This forces both teams to focus on the same numbers and collaborate toward the same results.
3: If your reps are going after a specific target list, it’s crucial for Marketing to develop a strategy against that list to support the sales team (what today is called “Account-Based Marketing”).
It’s very frequent for Marketing departments to go after “outsider” accounts, but that creates friction and gives the impression that the two teams are internally divided. When Marketing shows that it’s focusing on the same target list and it’s willing to work across departments to craft a strategy, it becomes the Sales team’s best friend and it increases budget efficiency.
Erik W. Charles
Xactly | VP, Product Marketing
1: One definition of what a qualified lead is and what an opportunity is. This must have complete buy-in from both teams.
2: An understanding by both teams of the complete buyer’s journey, where the critical junctures occur, and how each team impacts from the first anonymous touch to closed won and then to renewals and upsells.
3: Clear, obvious performance measures that tie into one and two, and that trigger appropriate remuneration. It is not just sales that should be a on variable bonus program driven by performance – marketing should have one too.
Webbiquity | Digital Marketing Consultant
1: The first key to successful sales-marketing alignment is COMMUNICATION. Too often, sales people complain about how marketing doesn’t understand their needs, while marketing complains about the unrealistic expectations from sales. Don’t let this fester. Get marketing and sales teams into the same room to talk TO each other rather than just about each other.
2: The second key is STRUCTURE. This includes both technology and people. Sales and marketing groups should use a common set of CRM and marketing automation tools, so both groups have visibility into what the other is doing inside each account.
There should also be at least one person (or a team in larger organizations) of people in sales operations / sales enablement, who “sit between” marketing and sales, facilitating coordination and cooperation.
3: The third key is the METRICS employed. Sales metrics tend to be pretty straightforward: did you hit the revenue target or not? Marketing metrics are a bit more complex, and certainly go beyond raw leads generated. Marketing exists to “grease the skids” for sales, to support the sales process with content, to make the job of sales easier. Metrics like brand awareness, brand image, overall customer experience, and content consumption are thus important metrics.
But marketers need to explain to sales reps why these numbers matter and how they (should) be helping make sales easier.
FoodLogiQ | Chief Marketing Officer
Communication is king.
- Set up a regular cadence to speak openly about the handoff between sales and marketing with regular check-ins on how the process is working for both functions.
- The other critical element is to sit down and agree on the mutual metrics for success.
These should be metrics that both teams are held accountable for and feel ownership of.
Scott L. Taylor
Cloudia Assistant | Director of Sales & Marketing
Although Sales and Marketing are supposedly on the same team, I once had a client who departmentalized his entire operation and their VPs never saw or spoke to each other except for management meetings. When I interviewed the salespeople and marketing assistants individually I found most didn’t even know each other. Sales would get a memo of what marketing was about to come out with but there was no indication of how they were supposed to fulfill the ad promises.
An ad once came out with a two-year guarantee on their entire stock of baking equipment. Since the manufacturer only offered one year they assumed this was new company policy so they told clients about their new guarantee, which increased business. However, the following year when a machine broke down the customer refused to pay for the repair because the sales person said there was a two-year guarantee, otherwise he wouldn’t have bought it.
That cost the company nearly $5,000 in parts and labor. The sales team often reacted with angst whenever a new marketing campaign was initiated because they had no idea what to expect or how the fulfillment was to be correlated and would often have to ask someone what to do when they had a sale, which made them look foolish to their customers.
It was suggested that the marketing department invite sales to their strategy sessions so they would at least know what was going on, the intention of the campaign and could ask questions as well as offer suggestions.
Although they would still run into hiccups every now and again, the sales team were more confident, professional and the fulfillment process was much smoother. They said their sales improved 18% and turnover was almost nil following that simple change of procedural operation.
Phizzle | CMO
1: Ensure that both the sales and marketing teams are being measured by the same goal. That means they need to be aligned with everything from who they are targeting, to the value proposition they are delivering.
2: Create a feedback loop so sales has an opportunity to relay customer pain points and needs. Better yet, have marketing people go along for sales calls to understand the customer perspective straight from the customer.
3: Break down silos. The worst possible scenario is when marketing develops a strategy without sales involvement. Or if sales marches to its own beat without taking the time to understand their own marketing and rational behind it.
JotForm | VP of Marketing
1: For sales and marketing to be properly aligned and in sync, it’s important that they have the same goals, such as leads and revenue.
2: Sales and marketing should have the right expectations for each other and understand each department’s roles, responsibilities, and how they interact with each other. This can minimize confusion and optimize for efficiency.
3: Effective communication between sales and marketing is imperative as the teams should help each other at a regular pace, not just when necessary.
Updates should be frequent, and clear communication should be part of the culture of an effective sales-marketing partnership.
The Good | Content Marketing Strategist
1: A great tip for helping to align sales and marketing teams is to define some shared goals (in addition to their individual goals) and set shared performance metrics that they will need to collaborate on to succeed.
2: Once they have clarity around those shared metrics, they can work to develop specific strategies and tactics tailored to their particular business.
3: Some great ways to begin that collaboration is through regular meetings where sales can report on common consumer pain points and reservations to help inspire new marketing content and marketing can report on new content and resources that sales can be using when engaging with prospects.
Louder.Online | Chief Marketing Officer
Aligning sales and marketing teams can be tricky but from my experience, efficiency and results occur when:
a) There are aligned goals across both teams
b) A company improves communication and education across the company as a whole
It starts by cross-educating ALL teams. (Even ops teams need to understand the purpose of sales and marketing within the organisation and how their role supports this relationship.)
When we tie goals together for the two teams (so that they have a vested interest in supporting each other), as well as to ensure KPI’s are made and shared across both teams, I have found that both teams work really well together. If either team remains siloed – uneducated and unaware of its responsibility and impact – alignment between sales and marketing will fail.
If marketing generate a substantial number of leads for example but the sales team are failing to close them, it’s important for marketing to learn that either the lead wasn’t targeted correctly in the correct ‘buying’ phase, the lead may have not been their ‘target’ audience or the lead was expecting something entirely different when they engaged with the sales team.
This is important feedback for the marketing team and they will only learn this from working closely with the sales team in order to tweak marketing programs or campaigns.
Both teams need to be accountable for the end ‘conversion’ rates. By working together as part of a wider team of both Sales & Marketing, sharing feedback with each other and meeting frequently to enable both teams with visibility, education and specific daily, weekly and quarterly goals, any company can achieve great ‘Smarketing’ results.
HECG | Digital & International Marketing Strategist
1: Hire a salesperson with marketing or advertising experience and vice-versa, a marketer with a sales background. By teaming up with people that understand both sides of the coin, it is possible to reduce friction within the two areas; they also will understand each other’s positions and challenges better.
2: Increase collaboration by making available the opportunity for salespeople to learn more about marketing, upcoming technologies, the importance of a brand and overall getting more involved in the marketing communications side of the business.
At the same time, have marketers that have never been on the road to join the salespeople and understand what it takes to be a good salesperson, what is like to defend with a client a price increase or build a lead into a potential.
3: Give equal credit to sales and marketing for the results. It is not fair for one area to receive all the credit. In many organisations is a battle of egos and depending on the background of the managing director, there could be a preference for either/or.
StaffConnect | VP Marketing
1: Goal Alignment: Structure your marketing plan and funnel metrics to align to sales goals. Ultimately we are all in this together and success is measured against revenue achievement. Demand generation should be calculated to achieve these goals, by product and by region. Track and measure against targets and assign responsibilities.
2: Transparency: Share plans and goals, get feedback from sales in the field on plans and get their buy in early on. Share performance vs target so the combined sales and marketing organisation can see progress. This mitigates the age old objections of marketing operating in a vacuum or not being effective.
3: Feedback loops: Ideas from the field on products, competition, go-to-market etc are critical and sales are often best placed to provide this in real time. Create a process for collecting and closing the loop of constructive feedback so that contributions are seen to be progressed and dealt with rather than being offered in inappropriate forums and not acted upon
Glance Networks | VP of Marketing
For those struggling to align their sales and marketing team, I recommend:
1: Open channels of communication: It doesn’t matter if you’re working in the same room or using visual engagement tools like video and cobrowsing to connect across a distance. Meet on a regular basis, talk about the best ways to achieve company goals together, and work as a single unit. Remember, the ultimate result both teams should be working for is growing customer presence.
2: Set specific goals: If you don’t know what you’re working towards, you’ll never achieve your goals. Don’t just talk about click-throughs or open rates. You need to understand how it all fits together – set goals that take you from the beginning of the marketing process through the close of the deal.
3: Centralize your data: Use a single data source for all of your lists, recording your activities, and reporting on results. If each team is using a different data source, you’ll never be able to understand the end-to-end process or how to continually improve it.
Keynote Speaker Brian Carter | Author and Speaker
1: Company leaders need to repeatedly state the overall goal of the company, and make sure Sales and Marketing know how they each help make that bigger goal possible.
One of the biggest problems with corporate silos is any explicit, or even subconscious feeling that each department only cares about its own results, because then everything can easily be someone else’s fault.
If the marketing team only focuses on their goals and metrics and doesn’t take some responsibility for the sales results, marketing can’t help create success- they’ll only be incentivized to do half the job, and not well- and sales will feel unsupported.
If the Sales team only focuses on their tasks and doesn’t feed information to Marketing about ideal customers, prospect objections and what creates sales vs. doesn’t, then Marketing can’t do a better job with targeting, creative and lead quality.
2: The most powerful marketing departments care about bottom line metrics, even though it’s sometimes hard to track them. Analytics are imperfect, but it’s even worse when marketing doesn’t contribute to sales success. And without analytics, marketing can’t prove they’re contributing, so if sales wants to blame marketing for bad performance, marketing has no defense.
Plus, until marketing tries to measure bottom-line performance and optimize toward Sales Qualified Leads, sales and profits, marketing will not be as effective as it could be.
Sometimes marketing needs to create conversion events and offers just to measure better. Sales needs to give marketing the intel they need to create marketing that sells.
Both teams need to communicate. Events where the two groups can mix, and attempts by the leaders of each department to create bridges and friendships increase corporate success.
3: Successful companies don’t hide the facts. Every corporate department should not just have key metrics on their performance- they should be shared. The entire company should know how well each department, including Marketing and Sales, are doing on those key metrics. Post them publicly. Show month-to-month and year-to-year changes.
Otherwise, accountability problems can fester and people won’t be as motivated to contribute to success. Transparency can be difficult but it helps you surface and solve bigger problems, leading to improved performance.
Anvil Media | President
I have an analogy that may help illustrate the heart of the issues between sales and marketing, as well as offer insights into solutions. Sales teams are hunters. They are highly agile predators that like to find prospects and make the kill (close deals).
Marketer teams, on the other hand, are gatherers. They prefer the long-term view of a farmer: to nurture their crops (leads) over time. Here are my 3 tips to create alignment between sales & marketing in B2B organizations:
1: Create a corporate structure where sales and marketing are overseen by one person, to increase alignment.
2: Create a culture of collaboration by building in group touch points (meetings, trainings, etc.), collaborative goals and compensation for both teams.
3: Implement sales and marketing automation to better integrate the process and team and provide necessary training and incentives (per above) that lead to early adoption and greater overall performance.
Integration is key Fundamentally both sales and marketing have the same goal, but different functions in the purchase funnel. They may be both phenomenal at delivering results to hit their departments KPI’s but performance is limited by support offered to each other. Any difference in nature naturally creates an opposition and a competitive nature to do anything to beat them.
This can be as simple as having alternative office space or different KPI’s which creates instinctive competition. The only competition any competition should have is the businesses competitors.
The purchase funnel is very much a production line, for example if marketing doesn’t show up for a few days to deliver the leads, then sales needs to up its conversion rates to compensate. Rather than seeing this as being a problem, if the team is integrated into one, there is exponential possibility.
Everything should be shared, office space, budgets, goals… Once everyone realises the impact the other has on the performance of their role on the production line, collaboration wins and ultimately the businesses performance.
Build/Create Studios | Director of Marketing
1: It may seem simple but the first thing I tell marketing and sales departments is to communicate. Information on both sides is gold and you’d better be sharing what’s working and what’s not.
2: Both teams need to be working in the other department. If you don’t know the struggles of the other department, then how can you work together to fix them?
3: Create a service level agreement between the two parties. Let each other know what you expect and put it down in writing. Each month report on what you owed the other one and each department should hold the other one accountable.
Mpowered Marketing | Chief Strategist
1: Leverage the Center of Excellence model by assigning a key marketer to be the go-to resource for each sales person or sales team in your organization. This approach brings efficiency and cultivates subject matter expertise, thereby positioning the marketer as a strategic and trusted advisor vs. an administrative support resource.
2: Conduct a comprehensive marketing needs assessment with your assigned sales team. Identify any gaps in tools, resources, information/data, etc., and together develop a plan to fill those gaps.
3: Engage your sales team in marketing planning meetings for the coming year. Gather everyone in a conference room for a few hours to map out world domination. Not only will this reduce surprise attacks on marketing, but it will enlighten all parties as to the demands on scarce marketing resources.
Indiana University Kelley School of Business | Adjunct Professor
1: This is a major problem across many B2B companies. The number one thing B2B companies need to do is write and agree on an SLA (Sales Level Agreement) contract. This requires Marketing and Inside Sales to agree on the exact definition of a marketing qualified lead, and for Inside Sales and Outside Sales to agree on the exact definition of a sales qualified lead. All parties need to sign this document. This prevents the inevitable in-fighting that occurs between the departments, each blaming the other for not hitting numbers.
2: The next tip is to track every aspect of the funnel. For more advanced B2B companies tracking the “hour glass” rather than the funnel might be more prudent.
3: Lastly, adding a layer of technology to automate and record the funnel activity is important for efficiency.
Jostle | Director of Growth Marketing
1: Have someone from sales attend marketing meetings and vice-versa. This is an easy way to get both teams on the same page.
2: Have marketing sit-in or actually run sales calls. This is a great way for marketing to see what common customer needs are and which objections come up often.
3: Align goals. Having a marketing goal of leads and a sales goals of customers with no aligned goals in the middle is a recipe for disaster. At Jostle, the goal of marketing is to increase the volume of sales ready leads and legitimate opportunities that are created.
MaconRaine | Managing Director
Most companies that are struggling to align their sales and marketing teams should start with a solid decrapification. Clean up processes, clean up the CRM, fix data hygiene issues, fix segmentation and build simple stupid personas that can be modeled and measured inside of the CRM.
This simple exercise gets everyone on the same page and forces alignment because the selling process mirrors the marketing process (and vice versa). Never under-estimate the power of a solid decrapification.
Hello Digital | Digital Marketing Strategist / Web Producer
1: Make sure to have regular review of your KPIs and evaluate what channels are driving the best conversions.
2: Setup Goal Values for all Macro Conversions (KPIs) new contacts or product purchases and microconversions like PDF downloads and Video views and review on a quarterly basis to make sure they align with the actual sales numbers.
3: Allow marketing access to clients to do customer research facilitated by the sales team.
Snap Agency | Marketing Director
Make sure everything in your marketing funnel and sales process is consistent.
There should never be any conflicting information being presented so it’s super important to keep information aligned.
Marketing should be educating sales on what is being marketed along with sales giving feedback on what they are hearing from prospects.
It’s also a great idea to have marketing create all of the sales materials like slide decks and a templates for proposals so that everything closely matches together from start to finish.
Primus Software Corporation | Director of Sales & Marketing
Alignment of Marketing and Sales is crucial for growth and performance for an organization. When marketing and sales teams are in sync, they dramatically improve marketing ROI, sales productivity, and, most importantly, top-line growth.
Historically, sales and marketing have struggled to work well together. Sales organizations constantly complain about not getting enough quality leads from marketing and marketing organizations argue that passing their leads to sales is a waste of time with the lack of transparency and feedback. Poor communication is at the heart of the disconnect.
It is tough to stay aligned when the sales and marketing leaders have different and potentially competing agendas. In order to achieve alignment, marketing and sales need incentives to align their organizations around common goals. Create and promote an environment where it’s easier to align their business goals by providing the tools that give them visibility into the complete business process. Both teams should work in tandem to define and implement a strategy.
Here are a few tips that will help optimized team alignment:
1: Once everyone is clear on who the target “customer” is and the company’s goals, clearly define and communicate the organization’s team-supported goals and strategies. Then make sure each team member understands them.
2: Confirm the value of a team. Additionally, confirm that each individual team member is perfectly clear as to their primary role and the responsibilities of that role within the team.
3: Validate the strategy that’s in place and create incentives. Shared incentives work well since both groups share responsibility for objectives needed to be rewarded.
4: Create joint assignments or rotate jobs so both can familiarize each other with the others way of thinking and to better understand the customer to create solutions and products.
5: Set “clearly defined communication” and add specific checkpoints for the team to regularly report back to the team leader or manager.
6: Have a CRM in place and ensure all team members are trained on how to use it effectively.
Sales and marketing alignment is about one shared goal: increase bottom line. When marketing and sales are aligned, companies will not only generate more revenue, but will improve the company’s culture and the customers experience.
Foundr | Content Crafter and Marketer
1: The best way to align your sales and marketing teams together is for everyone to come together and all agree upon a set of goals together.
- These goals have to be SMART (Smart, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) and something that both teams can work towards achieving together.
- Both might have different methods of how to approach that goal, but what’s important is that everyone is working together.
2: The next thing everyone has to agree on is the core marketing message.
- The biggest problem when sales and marketing are in conflict is that potential customers are getting receiving completely different conversations depending on who they’re talking to.
- Anyone that’s working sales or marketing needs to know what their core message is, no matter who it is they’re talking to.
The Marketing Compass | Sales and Marketing Consultant
Deploy a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) that the sales and marketing teams like, understand and use.
- The best CRM is the one that you actually use.
- There are many to choose from, however, you need to find one that has the marketing communications and sales management functionality that suits your business model and your people.
Mod Girl Marketing | Founder & CEO
- This fundamental yet overlooked step is key for sales and marketing teams to work in harmony.
- It’s very important that both the sales and marketing teams understand exactly who their ideal customer is:
- What are there pain pints?
- What matters most to them?
- What common objections do they have?
Speaking of objections, it’s also important that the sales team documents all objections, common questions, and verbiage used by prospects.
- Then, the sales team passes on the information to the marketing team, which then uses that information in marketing, advertising, and promotional materials.
In order to ensure continued harmony between sales and marketing, buyer personas need to be reviewed by both sales and marketing teams, and updated frequently.
Lauren Fonvielle Marketing | B2B Marketer & Content Writer
It’s imperative that marketing and sales work hand and hand in order to achieve their common goal: increase revenue. To successfully do this, they must effectively communicate with each other.
1: Marketing and Sales must come to an agreement on the definition of a marketing qualified lead (MQL). This will help the marketing folks implement an effective lead scoring model.
By agreeing to the answers of questions like: Does a lead need to be from a certain geographic area? Do they need to have specific title? Be in a specific industry? Be from a company of a certain size?
Marketing can then be sure to only send over leads that meet these criteria. This in turn saves sales folks a great deal of time, and they can prioritize their efforts and focus on those leads that are most likely to convert.
2: Openly discuss what type of content would be most helpful to the sales team. What types of questions are they regularly receiving? Is there a particular point in the sales funnel where leads tend to get stuck? What type of information would be most helpful?
By collaborating the teams can collectively look which areas need the most attention and hone in on content specific to those areas.
Bulkly | Founder
1: Get on the same page. Often times communication breaks down because in most organizations because sales and marketing are siloed. Each department usually has their own goals…which are typically not the same as the other department. Be sure each team agrees (or understands) what the goals for each team are.
2: Have a plan and work together. Sort of tying into the first point, but when each team has their own goals you should work together in order to help each team reach their goals as best you can. Because if the marketing team is reaching their goals, it should have a positive impact on the sales team reaching their goals.
3: Make sure you use the same data sources. When it comes time to pull numbers for initiatives and to measure goals, both teams need to be using the same sources for data. This is important particularly with sales data. For example, don’t rely on a third party tool like Google Analytics (if you are ecommerce), but instead look to the actual sales tool in order to get accurate (updated) data.
Velocity Digital | Managing Director
It’s really important that marketing has a presence in the weekly ‘Sales Pipeline’ meeting (there really should be one of these meetings!). This gives marketing great insight into the problem sales are facing, the questions and requests they receive and the types of prospects that are proving to be fruitful and those that are struggling to be pushed right to the end of the funnel.
From a marketing perspective, you can get a lot of ideas for content that can support the sales team. Being there shows that your marketing team are keen to know more about the sales team’s work and are willing to help beyond lead-gen.
Sense | Product Marketing Manager
If at all possible, it’s great to get members of the marketing team into meetings with your B2B customers, so they can internalize their needs and priorities and build content that will really resonate with them.
It can be hard to align on goals and projects when you don’t have the customer’s perspective in mind.
Platformly | Growth Marketer
1: Alignment coupled with pace
Marketing and Sales teams working together like a well-oiled machine is critical to a business’s success.
The are a lot of levers that go into making sure the two teams are properly aligned. A few of them are:
- Using a standard vocabulary
- Having closed loop feedback
These levers are still important, but they are no more a differentiator.
In today’s age, customers have too many options to pick from. In such a situation, assuming product being the leveler, teams that have alignment coupled with pace emerge as a winner.
2: Build an end-to-end revenue cycle
One of the common mistakes companies make – having a separate marketing and sales cycle with no sync. This is where things go out of control. Marketing doesn’t care about sales cycle and vice-versa.
Companies should have an integrated revenue cycle where both marketing and sales team own specific steps. It starts from you first get a lead and goes through sales and beyond it.
Having one single cycle helps each team understand what one is responsible for, what other is working on, where one need to pitch in to help in closing the deal.
Avant Voice | Senior Digital Marketing Strategist
B2B companies struggling to align their sales and marketing teams can benefit from bringing in an outside point person who is able to embrace the varying perspectives of Sales and Marketing and develop a cohesive Sales Enablement strategy.
Developing Sales Enablement tools and processes is the first step in aligning messaging across the organization. These same tools and processes also work to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts.
Creating ways to be of genuine service to your customers and potential clients is an absolute necessity on the path to identifying those buying signals that help both Sales and Marketing teams understand how best to communicate with potential customers.
Cronofy | Content Marketer
While sales and marketing have their differences, the two teams need to work together for a company to be successful. It’s important that everyone works towards the same goal – whatever that may be – and the teams meet up regularly to discuss progress and generate ideas.
We’ve had some great leads from sales and marketing working together that never would’ve happened if it hadn’t been for team effort. It’s also important to remember that sales can have great ideas for marketing, and vice versa. Just because someone doesn’t work in the same department it doesn’t mean their ideas are less valid.
Modelo | VP of Marketing
1: As a marketer, be a part of the sales team. This includes being on sales calls, participating in deal reviews, and staying on top of the sales pipeline. Even make sales calls, attend conferences, and be present during in-person demos yourself if you’re game – there is no substitute for getting in front of the customer.
2: Share a calendar of upcoming marketing activities. This is an easy way to generate more transparency.
3: Publish campaign metrics – everything from open rates to margin influence – to the sales team. Highlight the successes and explain the failures. This is a fantastic way to build trust.
4: Follow individual leads through the entire pipeline to see how the lead was initially generated, engaged with the company during the sales process, and closed.
Ausmed | CMO
1: Leverage online marketing techniques to benefit your sales team. Web tracking, re-targeting, link monitoring—all of these skills are considered relatively basic in marketing, but remain quite advanced in sales.
2: Look for opportunities to put lead capture forms anywhere. Or leverage your existing forms by including and optional ‘make an enquiry’ checkbox.
3: Place a sales rep inside the marketing team, and a marketer inside the sales team. This cross pollination will assist with breaking down silos.
OPTIM-EYEZ | Founder
My first tip encompasses all…
1: Communication The biggest and most important factor of ANY business success. Communicate well and you are already on the right path. Regular meetings should be held not only between marketing and sales teams, but also the entire workforce. This ensures everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet.
There should also be an open yet organized approach to comms between teams…encouraged at all times.
2: Access to robust project management, CRM and marketing / sales automation software is necessary to use in any thriving B2B organization. To truly perform, all pieces of kit need to talk to each other — and the relevant people (across teams) need to be able to access collective information on clients, projects and operations whenever required.
Different levels of access should be set for each team member to keep a degree of tidiness, along with the restricted / unrestricted ability to add notes that assist the next person who needs to take a peek. It’s beneficial to form a protocol that is set and followed.
3: Purpose What’s the end goal? Are your sales team simply selling, and your marketing team just promoting? What for..?
Sometimes, answers can be pretty vague…
“To win business” isn’t exactly a clear cut, rewarding nor motivating purpose.
Define a meaningful end goal with purpose-driven micro goals as touchpoints. Both teams should be working towards achieving them in sync.
MuteSix | Chief Marketing Officer
1: Build processes using software that will be used heavily by both teams (example – HubSpot). Makes tracking data and working together to identify problems/opportunities easier.
2: Weekly or biweekly meetings of the sales and marketing teams to provide feedback to one another. Feedback from the sales team should center around lead quality.
3: Have marketing teams analyze sales metrics by marketing filters – source, persona, date range, etc. – to identify trends and opportunities for more effective marketing.
Vacancysoft | Director of Marketing and Innovation
It is important that both Sales and Marketing teams are aware of who is doing what and how the business benefits from it. I found that regular meetings worked very well for us. This is a forum where both teams are discussing what they are up to and how Marketing can support Sales, or where Sales gives feedback on what worked and what didn`t.
A lot of misunderstandings between two teams where resolved effectively thanks to this. We started with weekly meetings and when we reached the point where everyone is on the same page we decreased the frequency of meetings to once a month.
- Meetings should always be led by one person.
- There should always be pre-set agenda which covers plans/achievements of both teams.
- Make sure to keep notes during the meeting and send a follow-up email to everyone – this helps to keep to what was agreed.
- If teams are big, it might be better to hold meetings between team leaders/representatives and have a general meeting once a quarter.
Dryrun | Customer Engagement and Outreach
We use our product – Dryrun – to leverage communication and set goals for sales and marketing. While we don’t examine marketing metrics inside of Dryrun, the software allows everyone with a stake to sit at the table when we’re discussing the universal company goal – that is, revenue.
How do you plan to better align your sales and marketing teams
While each expert in this post had an individual take on the best ways to align sales and marketing teams, there were some common themes:
- Clearly identify KPIs both departments are accountable for
- Force strong communication to avoid silos
- Marketing content should enable all sales activities
- Sales interaction should inform all content creation
- Both teams should have a “symbiotic” relationship
What tips are you going to take away and implement in your business? What tactics have worked well for you already?