How to Grow Revenue and Close More Deals by Aligning Sales and Marketing
June 11, 2019 | Elizabeth Rivelli
The halfway point of 2019 has come and gone, and for us marketers, now is a good time to reflect on the priorities we set back in January. We review our KPIs, look at our budgets, and measure our progress towards our goals. It’s an important part of benchmarking success and proving our contribution to the bottom line.
Year after year, one priority remains at the top of the list for many B2B marketers: better alignment with sales, and the benefits that come with it. And it makes sense—tightly aligned sales and marketing teams are 67 percent better at closing deals, on average. But, research also shows that the majority of organizations still struggle with proper alignment. So today, we’re discussing why sales and marketing alignment is important when it comes to achieving your business goals, and sharing tips to help you get there by year-end. Let’s get started.
The Connection Between Sales and Marketing
To start, let’s look at how sales and marketing teams are connected. When it comes to sales-marketing alignment, one of the most common misconceptions is that the two teams operate in their own world, heads down working on their own projects.
In most B2B organizations, marketers are responsible for finding qualified prospects for sales, while sales is focused on generating transactions, or closing sales. But the work that marketers do directly supports the work that sales does, and vice versa. If marketers aren’t generating qualified leads, then sales can’t work those leads and convert them into deals. If sales isn’t following up effectively with the leads marketing brings in, then marketing has no motivation to find those leads in the first place.
The truth is, sales and marketing teams can’t function without each other. In fact, misalignment is costing businesses more than a trillion dollars every year, according to Marketo and ReachForce.
Three Tips for Better Alignment
The research we’ve shared makes it clear that if your sales and marketing teams aren’t exactly a dynamic duo, you’re not alone. It also means that there is a tremendous opportunity for agile companies to align their departments and build processes that enable both teams to be successful. Here are a few tips to help your organization breakdown silos, and build a stronger partnership between sales and marketing.
1. Establish Regular Communication
Transparency and communication are absolutely essential to succeed in any relationship, whether it’s personal or professional. But in many organizations, sales people and marketers communicate infrequently, if at all. And it doesn’t help that many sales and marketing teams are physically separated in their office space, reinforcing the barrier to communication.
To break down organizational silos between sales and marketing, try hosting weekly or monthly meetings between the two departments. Live, in-person meetings are the most effective, but phone meetings can also be useful with a detailed agenda. Use this time for teams to come together and discuss individual projects, share ideas, and express challenges.
Additionally, marketers can use this meeting to share new sales enablement assets, and educate sales reps on how to implement new content into their conversations with leads. To conclude the meeting, review shared dashboards in your CRM to evaluate each team’s progress towards your goals and KPIs.
2. Create a Service Level Agreement
Do you know your sales team’s definition of a qualified lead? Research shows that less than one-third of marketers and salespeople have a common definition for a lead. Not only does that create confusion when marketers establish a lead generation process, but it means that both teams aren’t setting themselves up for success.
If you don’t already, try establishing a service level agreement (SLA) which outlines shared goals, definitions, and processes. According to HubSpot, “This agreement details marketing goals, like number of leads or revenue pipeline; and the sales activities that’ll follow and support them, like engaging leads that were qualified by the marketing team.”
Another good reason to create a SLA? Data shows that 65 percent of marketers whose companies have a SLA see higher ROI from their inbound marketing efforts. SLAs also reduce conflicts between departments, so individual teams can’t blame the other for not hitting certain numbers.
3. Use Shared Dashboards to Track Progress
We often talk about the flaws in the MQL model, and why it doesn’t guarantee that sales is getting the quality leads they expect. In fact, nearly 80 percent of MQLs never convert into a sale. There are plenty of other metrics that marketers can, and should be tracking to prove their ROI. At SnapApp, some of the metrics we track are percentage of sales pipeline generated by marketing, opportunities created by marketing, and closed deals generated by marketing.
To track these figures, sales and marketing should create a shared dashboard in their CRM that is accessible by both teams. When sales accepts a new lead from marketing, the lead get added to the CRM and tagged as a sales accepted lead (SAL). As that lead moves through the sales cycle, they get placed in new buckets that correspond with their place in the buyer journey.
With a shared dashboard, marketers can create customized graphs that show how many leads in the pipeline came through as an MQL, or how many new customers came from a webinar, versus a PDF. For sales, a shared dashboard gives them visibility into marketing’s lead generation efforts, which helps establish and reinforce trust between teams.
Aligning sales and marketing teams that have historically operated in silos isn’t a quick fix. But with the right strategies, consistent effort on both ends, and regular communication, sales and marketing teams can become partners. Together, you can influence company growth and revenue, which leads to more credibility, visibility, and increased budget for both teams.
Check out our ebook, Why the MQL is Broken and What to Do About It, for more tips on achieving strong alignment, measuring success, and generating qualified leads that turn into deals.