Misalignment between sales and marketing is an age-old issue that most organizations still struggle with. While these two teams may not always agree, it’s imperative to get them aligned if your business hopes to increase revenue and accelerate growth. Industry research shows that those who pursue revenue-driven marketing and sales alignment improve their Return on Investment (ROI) by up to 20 percent.
Essentials of Marketing and Sales Alignment
It isn’t surprising that the drive to get marketing and sales teams to work together often runs into difficult roadblocks. For decades, the two have pursued different goals with contrasting strategies. Marketing campaigns tend to focus on generating and nurturing leads over time. Sales teams move at a faster pace, looking to find quick and personal solutions for leads or customers. The sales team looks to marketers to give them the information they need to make a sale today, not somewhere down the road.
Putting Sales and Marketing on the Same Page
Inbound marketing developer HubSpot refers to marketing and sales alignment as “smarketing” and they’ve written extensively on how marketing and sales teams can efficiently work together. Other experts have weighed in on this topic as well. Here are some of the ways believed alignment barriers can be broken down, so companies can better move forward.
- Establish shared definitions. It’s important that everyone speak the same language. If your teams cannot agree on what defines a contact, a qualified lead, an opportunity, or what the sales stages are, it prevents your organization from reaching its revenue potential.
- Talk about revenue. A sales team is often more plugged into this. The marketing team needs to learn and understand what the revenue goal and average deal size is; how many customers are needed to meet that goal; what the lead to conversion rate is; and how the number of leads needed is calculated. Then it can set its own goals that are tied to sales.
- Define your ideal buyer. Both teams need to know exactly who the customer is. Otherwise, you’ll waste time – and money – marketing and selling to the wrong people. Talk about product and service benefits, industry sectors and the basic traits that make up buyer personas, such as age, gender, job title, location, values and challenges.
- Understand when a lead is sales ready. Marketing, in an effort to give sales a high quantity of leads, often ends up including leads who are in no way sales-ready. Again, the two sides must agree on what a sales-ready lead truly looks like and come to an agreement on how to recognize a buyer who is moving through the funnel; which behaviors show a lead is considering buying something; and what the process is for handling each lead.
- Track important metrics. Both teams need to consistently track essential indicators to ensure their alignment is working. What to track varies from business to business, but common things to look at include the percentage of qualified leads that become sales-accepted; the length of the buying cycle; what content moved leads through the funnel; where leads are getting stuck or exiting the funnel; and how many leads are cycled back into marketing automation.
Revenue driven marketing and sales alignment does not have to be complicated. Companies who manage to do it successfully understand that the way people buy has changed so they, too, must change the way marketing and sales work together. It’s worth the time and effort it takes, as taking marketing and sales from disconnect to alliance can mean the difference between mediocre and stellar sales.