Better Together: How to Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams for Success

If sales and marketing alignment seems like nothing more than a pipe dream, listen up: Industry research shows misalignment between sales and marketing technologies and processes costs B2B companies 10% of revenue or more per year.

If you want to crush your revenue goals (who doesn’t?!) then both teams should move as a unit – although methods and processes may differ, both departments are seeking the same end result—growing customers and sales.

It’s the conversation that never ends, so we’re giving you some pointers to get your team in sync once and for all. Check out the tried and true tips we’ve developed to help you foster alignment between your teams.

Start with shared goals and build processes around them

You might feel like you have different objectives, but your goals are identical! Driving revenue for your company. Aligning sales and marketing leads to 38% higher win rates. The steps each team needs to take to get there is where lines can blur. Marketing technology can help you gain clarity once you identify specific goals, roles, and ownership for each side, pertaining to how you use it.

Within your typical martech stack, you have a CRM, marketing automation, sales enablement tools, web chat, and maybe even intent data or predictive analytics. Who is responsible for what and how do you make sure everyone is communicating about how the technology interacts? Sale’s job begins before they get the lead and marketing’s doesn’t end once they deliver it.

Consider the following when it comes to your marketing technology:

  • Often times, a company’s CRM can get a little messy, with people from sales and marketing both using the tool in different ways. There can be a disconnect with what you’re tracking in your CRM and who is responsible for updating accounts and contacts. Develop a process identify and iron out the typical kinks. This way, you can proactively work together to eliminate issues.
  • Ensure sales understands how marketing automation will be used and what criteria will cause a contact to reach the lead threshold. Communicate any updates to this system as well to ensure both teams are on the same page with how the tool is being used.
  • The same goes for sales enablement tools, marketing should have a say in the strategy behind their execution. Any time you implement a new tool, ensure both teams communicate and understand how it will help both teams reach their goals.

Now that we’re thinking goals and process, let’s head into the next point.

Speak the same language—across platforms

In our experience, disagreement on what constitutes a lead is the top killer of sales and marketing alignment. Creating a common language between sales and marketing helps to facilitate seamless and effective communication

It all starts with coming together on the basics, which is to examine what each team defines as a marketing qualified lead (MQL), sales qualified lead (SQL), and sales accepted lead (SAL). How many times has marketing sent a lead to sales only to have it go dark? Before you know it you have a graveyard of MQLs – after all, sales ignores half the leads marketing sends over.

Budget, need, time, and authority (BANT) is tried and true for a reason, and if you stick with it, there will be no question about M.I.A. leads. This will help marketing understand when in the nurturing process a lead is ready to be passed over to sales.

You’ll also want to develop service level agreements (SLAs) between sales and marketing. Typically, this will be something like marketing making a commitment to deliver a specific number of leads to sales and sales converting a certain percentage of those leads in a certain timeframe.

As you develop your SLA, you’ll need to know these three numbers:

  1. Average conversion rate from lead to opportunity
  2. Average conversion rate from opportunity to closed sale
  3. Average sales price

These metrics will provide the key insights required to determine a realistic amount of leads marketing will need to send to sales so both teams meet their quota, and down the road, your company revenue goal.

Here’s a pro tip: It will make life for both teams much easier if you can agree on which data sources will drive analytics about leads, attribution, and pipeline. If marketing is using one dashboard as a source of truth and sales another, misalignment is bound to occur. Instead of sales using Salesforce dashboards and marketing using Marketo (for example), align the reporting of metrics so each team can view them from the same place. This will provide both teams with the clarity they need.

In closing: Communicate!

The relationship between sales and marketing teams is like any other in your life, meaning communication is key! Come together with your counterparts often and in detail about topics such as number of qualified leads available and actual feedback from customers and prospects. Bi-weekly meetings are a simple fix to alleviate a lack of communication. Go into the meeting with a set agenda to make everyone’s time worthwhile.

It all comes down to finding the acres of common ground between both departments. It can be hard to see eye to eye, but you can’t have one without the other. A stronger relationship between sales and marketing will allow you to maximize the information from your marketing automation technology allowing you to have a greater impact across your organization.

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