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Sales and Marketing: United They (Should) Stand

By Liz PateJun 30, 2014

Sales and marketing alignment Your CMO is probably brilliant and your VP of Sales is likely good at closing deals. And though the two are supposed to work together to drive revenue, it doesn’t always happen that way. In fact, both are often confused about what the other is doing, how they’re doing it and when they’re doing it. Not to mention they rarely see eye to eye.

But, imagine a scenario where sales and marketing respected and understood each other’s points of view. What if all discussions were about more than just pointing the finger when a campaign didn’t deliver the expected pipeline? Sounds ideal if you ask me.

The good news is—alignment is possible, it just takes some work. And according to the Aberdeen Group, the effort is worth it since companies with sales and marketing alignment experience up to a 20 percent growth in annual revenue.

To get started, sales and marketing need a shared vision. They need to agree on common goals, strategies and success metrics. They’re on the same team after all, so they should strive for the same things. Furthermore, they need to make their expectations of one another apparent and realistic. But getting there isn’t always easy.

Sales and marketing alignment is not a new concept. Businesses have tried to build this professional camaraderie for years. However, there still seems to be debate about what alignment actually means, who’s responsible for what and whether each side is pulling their weight. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. But when these teams don’t work together, it’s obvious, and worse, it’s detrimental to the success of the organization.

To gain a better understanding of how sales and marketing can align their efforts, check out the following tips:

Agree on the Basics

Both sales and marketing struggle to agree on things as simple as defining leads. To succeed, both teams need to agree on the basics that make up campaigns, such as:

  • Terminology (what defines leads
  • Goals (volume of leads needed)
  • Strategy (how you reach your goals)
  • Expectations (quota, pipeline goals, quantity of content, etc.)

Without a shared understanding (and agreement) of these essentials, sales and marketing activities will remain disjointed.

Create Closed-Loop Reporting

Closed-loop reporting is one of the most powerful tools online marketers have in their arsenal. The idea here is all activities should be based on actionable data and insights in order to drive prospect engagement. It’s crucial sales and marketing work together to gain the intelligence they need to optimize these efforts.

Marketers should strive to arm sales with the insight they need in the field, and sales should inform marketing of what’s working and what isn’t. Neither should make assumptions about what is useful to the other—it’s important to communicate this early on. Often, organizations will rely on CRMs and other marketing analytics software to “keep tabs” on the progress of leads and other key bits of information they might need.

When sales and marketing agree on what tactics are most effective, they need to be used. For example, sales should not ask marketing for an email nurture to follow up with prospects, then not use it. If marketing utilizes resources to build a certain tactic or campaign and it doesn’t get implemented, then those efforts are wasted.

Implement Bi-Directional SLAs

Before implementing a service level agreement (SLA), sales and marketing need to determine how much effort will be required to meet their goals. Per HubSpot, implementing a bi-directional SLA is crucial to alignment, because it helps both teams determine what percentage of opportunities they can realistically create and what percentage of opportunities they can influence.

Sales should decide how much effort they need to spend on each lead and how many follow-ups they should attempt. And marketing needs to establish the percentage of leads that should come from their activities versus the percentage that come from sales prospecting. Determining the level of effort from each team will allow the organization to allocate resources properly and build an effective strategy to meet their goals. Also, an SLA will allow both sales and marketing to hold each other accountable for their activities.

At the end of the day, it’s about teamwork and communication—especially upfront. Sales and marketing don’t have to like each other, but they do have to work together. So team up and put those brilliant minds to work.

Still not sure how you feel about this union? Check out this guide to sales and marketing alignment—it might just change your mind.

Sales & Marketing Align Blog Post

photo credit: StockMonkeys.com 

Additional Topics: Inbound Sales
The Author

Liz Pate

Liz Pate is a seasoned writer, editor and content strategist. She has a diverse background in content marketing, social media, communications and journalism.
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