Why sales and marketing strategies need to be aligned to achieve business growth
If you’re reading this, you probably already have an inkling as to why sales and marketing teams must be aligned in order to drive ROI. But let’s let the numbers add some color to the story:
- 68% of B2B buyers take at least three months to research a product before reaching out to a sales rep.
- Once they’ve started talks with the sales team, prospects who are provided with helpful information from B2B companies — exactly what marketing does — are 3X more likely to commit to a larger deal.
- Finally, from both a sales and marketing POV, Adobe finds that successful sales and marketing alignment can lead to 208% growth in marketing revenue.
What does this tell us? Marketing and sales teams can have a profound impact on each other’s success. When they’re truly aligned, they work in tandem to attract new customers, nurture them down the funnel, and drive growth for their company.
On the flipside, what happens when marketing is not aligned with sales? As a marketing leader, that can be a dangerous world to live in.
If you cannot provide a clear answer to the question how is marketing affecting sales, or, better yet, how is marketing influencing revenue, it might make your bosses wonder whether your marketing efforts are really necessary at all. (Of course they are — but today, we need to be able to point to the data).
If marketing is not tied to revenue, the marketing department can quickly be perceived as a cost center. Contrastingly, if you can develop a system to show how your marketing efforts contribute to pipeline and revenue, you will be leagues ahead of many marketers around the globe.
Good news: establishing this interdepartmental collaboration may be easier than you think. Plus, you can be the driver of this change, which will make everyone’s lives easier. Keep reading to find out:
- What an ideal marketing-sales alignment strategy looks like
- Common reasons why sales and marketing are not aligned
- Best practices for aligning marketing and sale teams
What is smarketing? The integrated marketing strategy advantage
While we know it’s ideal to approach a campaign with integrated marketing in mind, the ultimate goal is to operate in parallel with sales, nurturing prospects down the funnel with sales and marketing channels in near-equal frequency. This is called ‘Smarketing’, a blend of sales and marketing referring to when the two teams are fully aligned in terms of goals, processes, and communications.
But how do you know you’ve created a successful ‘smarketing’ team? Here are the key indicators to look out for:
- Transparency: Open communication about shared goals
- Consistency: Processes are assessed for consistency across customer touch points
- Closed feedback loops: Sales and marketing have agreed on a content feedback process
- Cross-functional: All go-to-market strategies require input from both parties
Common reasons why sales and marketing are not aligned
There are a number of reasons why marketing and sales may be at odds. That said, there are several — some broad, some technical — that tend to have major repercussions. Here are four primary issues that may cause collaboration to be a challenge:
1 . No regular marketing-sales meetings
It is simple. It is true. Many marketing teams do not meet with sales regularly and the result is two siloed departments each trying to reach the same end goal with disconnected strategies and tactics.
The meeting allows for a feedback loop, in which the two teams can share information: How many leads are coming in? What is the lead quality? What are prospects asking for in sales calls? What are prospects responding to in ads?
Without a regular (ideally, weekly) meeting to answer these questions and make sure overall efforts are aligned, the sales and marketing relationship will quickly deteriorate.
2. No Lead Scoring System
If you are running a lead generation campaign without an established system for scoring, i.e. qualifying, your leads, you will quickly run into trouble.
Without a Lead Scoring System, it will be unclear to everyone involved which leads are ready for sales to pursue and which need to be further nurtured down the funnel before sales engagement.
Even worse: sales reps will likely reach out to leads who are not yet sales-ready, get dismissed by the lead, then mark the lead as disqualified. The more this happens, the less sales teams will trust your lead gen program — or marketing efforts as a whole. What’s more, these leads could be valuable prospects if nurtured first. Instead, they are prematurely disqualified and both marketing and sales lose an opportunity.
A lead scoring system, coupled with a clear lead-to-sales hand-off process, fixes all of this. But, surprisingly, many marketers do not set them up.
3. No Lead-to-Sales Hand-Off Process
The Lead Scoring System goes hand-in-hand with the Lead-to-Sales Hand-Off Process. Just as critical as it is to know the quality of the lead is to know who is responsible for assessing that quality.
A huge piece of this is determining and assigning the person that will be responsible for reviewing incoming leads. Often this is an SDR, but it can sometimes be a marketer or a combination of both. Either way, someone needs to do it daily, with a built-in plan for how lead quality will be reported out to marketing and sales. Otherwise your lead gen program will likely be a waste of money and time.
4. No insight into sales & marketing programs
As with the regular sales-marketing meeting, it is astounding how common it is for sales and marketing teams to not have full insight into what the other is doing.
For marketing, this typically means getting insight into deals and revenue. If marketing does not get regular feedback on pipeline, closed-lost deals, closed-won deals, and revenue, they have no way to report on which marketing activities influenced revenue and which did not. We need this info!
For sales, this usually entails getting to see and collaborate on the marketing strategy and assets. Marketing is often the first touchpoint for prospects. They create the materials that most leads will see far before ever talking to sales. Therefore it’s crucial that sales can help craft that marketing strategy so that it’s consistent with everything that happens once a lead is talking to sales.
Best practices for aligning marketing and sale teams
Let’s jump right into how you can effectively boost your marketing-sales collaboration and communication efforts.
1. Meet weekly
Or monthly, if you must. But a regularly scheduled sales-marketing meeting — even for 15 minutes — is the #1 most important element of a successful sales and marketing alignment.
2. Build a Lead Scoring Program (and explain it to your sales )
Any work your team does to engage leads, whether it’s demand gen, lead gen, lead nurture, or something else, will be monumentally improved by a lead scoring program.
Your lead scoring program should integrate with your CRM(s) (i.e. Hubspot, Salesforce, Adobe) and make it crystal clear to the whole team what stage your lead is in, and what actions need to be taken (or not taken).
3. Build a Lead-to-Sales Hand-Off Process
A good Lead-to-Sales Hand-Off Process is two things:
- A process document detailing exactly what happens from the moment a lead (from any channel) gets entered into your CRM to where they are stored, who assesses them, how feedback is facilitated, and how this lead will continue to be engaged by sales and marketing in alignment with your lead scoring system
- A series of workflows in your CRM that puts your process document into action, automating workflows that engage your leads with the right content at the right time, and surfacing notifications to sales reps so they can follow-up with the lead accordingly.
Build a B2B demand generation strategy that’s aligned with sales and drives results
Not sure where to begin? Start with strategy.
In order to truly align with sales, marketing leaders need to stop focusing only on lead generation and start analyzing their entire lead funnel. You need to go through the entire process of B2B demand generation, lead generation, and lead nurturing to fuel sales and grow your business.
Ready to see how it’s done? In this guide, you will learn:
- The differences between demand generation and lead generation
- The stages of a robust lead funnel
- Tactics on how to generate marketing qualified leads
- Ways to improve your lead-to-sales conversions