How To Get Marketing and Sales Aligned In Lock Step

This blog focuses on how to get Marketing and Sales aligned and working in lock step.

Alignment is important because according to a report by Aberdeen Research, companies that are best-in-class at aligning Marketing and Sales experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue. When aligned, it creates a win-win formula for your business and your customers.

Are your Marketing and Sales teams truly aligned?

What Is Considered Alignment? 

To perform optimally, Marketing and Sales need to be in lock step.  They need to have a great relationship…be best friends or be a couple, always trusting and collaborative with each other. However, this is often not the case, when each function does not completely understand how the other creates customer and business value.  Marketing and Sales are truly aligned, when there is clarity, transparency, a shared drive and united focus.

The Challenge of Creating Alignment

Currently, my work focuses on Marketing & Communications and Sales Enablement.  However, in my prior roles as a corporate leader responsible for Sales, Marketing & Communications,  I was fortunate to have responsibility for both Marketing & Sales.  This afforded me the luxury of treating them as a single team. It enabled clarity on the value that each role brought to the team and ensured overall alignment of goals and objectives as a Marketing & Sales team.

Not every leader is afforded this same luxury. In fact, most businesses today treat Sales/Business Development and Marketing as separate functions. As such, they report to different leaders, and are measured on different goals and objectives.  This creates a real challenge. Without clarity and alignment, Marketing and Sales cannot truly work together in lock step. Ultimately, they may unintentionally working against each other.

What Marketing and Sales Pros Are Saying

According to a LinkedIn survey of Marketing and Sales professionals, 90% of the respondents indicated that they are not aligned across strategy, process, content and culture. Furthermore, this survey reported that 98% of Sales professionals and 97% of Marketers view the misalignment having a negative impact on both the customer and the overall business.  I get this! Having managed the strategy, process, content, and culture of Marketing and Sales teams, I understand the effect that misalignment has on these areas.

The good news: there is a better way forward.  Marketing and Sales can in fact become a thriving couple…true partners who bring out the best in each other. It all starts with the focus on the customer. Really understanding the customer, the customer needs, and then having Marketing and Sales align according to these needs fosters this partnership.

How to Move Forward With Alignment

Here are proven ways to make this happen:

  • Sharing Data & Metrics
    Marketing needs to know the data and metrics that are most significant to Sales.  Likewise, Sales needs to understand those that are most important to Marketing. Sounds good, but how? You deploy a shared dashboard for both Marketing & Sales. Today, there is an abundance of tech-based applications that allow you to do this with ease.  Whether you refer to this technology and software as MarTech or SalesTech is not important, what is important is that the platform exists for Marketing and Sales to share. Here the important data from Marketing and Sales is posted and integrated to allow for clarity, transparency, and united goal sharing. What are some data metrics that need to be shared on this common platform?

Your brand, product/service exposure metrics. It informs Sales how Marketing is creating visibility and awareness in the market compared to the competition. It informs Marketing how they are helping Sales in the efforts to drive lead/demand generation.

Qualified Leads by Marketing. Often referred to as MQLs standing for Marketing Qualified Leads, Marketing must track the source of these leads, and how they are being developed, qualified, and nurtured. Doing this requires an open dialogue between Sales and Marketing at all times to ensure Marketing is in sync with Sales, and the MQLs being handed off to Sales are well qualified.

Lead to Conversion Ratio.  As important it is for Marketing to provide Sales with well qualified leads, Sales in turn, must keep Marketing informed of the rate of conversion of these leads.  Additionally, Sales can inform Marketing of any gaps, opportunities, or tools that are needed from Marketing to further support or accelerate the lead to conversion ratio.

Sales Closed/Sales Lost. Marketing and Sales need to understand how together they are driving revenue for the business. Therefore, both must understand the metrics used to track sales including the # of sales and size of sales.

Customer Retention. Marketing and Sales work diligently to secure sales. In turn, they need to understand the staying power of their efforts.  Knowing the retention rate of customers is key to ensuring that Marketing and Sales are not creating a “burn and churn” cycle with customers.

  • Joint Meetings and Training:
    When an opportunity arises monthly or quarterly to bring Marketing and Sales together either in person or via an online meeting, this is important to share, discuss, and brainstorm collectively what is working, what is not working, or what areas need more work, and why. Additionally, depending on the nature of the meeting, setting aside time for training in areas that are or should be common to Marketing and Sales is a great use of time.  This allows Marketing to gain a better sense of Sales, and vice versa.
  • Brand/Product/Service Messaging
    In the eyes of the customer, it doesn’t matter if you are in Marketing or Sales, you both work for the same company, so you are viewed as one in the same.  As such, Marketing and Sales are responsible for communicating, delivering, and living the brand, product or service promise, positioning and messaging in the same manner.

To be in sync and maintain constant alignment, Marketing and Sales need to continually communicate around the brand, product, service and messaging strategy.

Ongoing Communication is Critical

How do you do this?

By sharing what’s working, what’s not working, and what might need some tweaking.  Marketing can share campaign ideas with the Sales/Business Development team to get their feedback.  Likewise, Sales can share with Marketing how they are talking and writing about the brand, product or service and gain Marketing’s feedback.  Sharing the results of any Marketing and Sales campaigns among both parties is another successful way to align.

While Marketing is responsible for developing brand, product and service messaging and the corresponding online and traditional collateral to communicate these messages. Sales is responsible for taking these messages and adapting them to be relevant to prospective customers.

Putting the Customer First Always!

The one area that Marketing and Sales must share is a constant dedication to the customer. Marketing & Sales must be aligned in their understanding of who the buyer really is, and what the buyer wants and needs. What motivates and is most important to the buyer, and why? Is the content created by Marketing for Sales resonating with the buyer?

Creating a Win-Win 

Sharing data and metrics, attending joint meetings and training, syncing messaging, promises and positioning, and keeping the focus always on the customer first helps both Marketing and Sales be aligned and more effective. This creates a win-win for Marketing and Sales, and a better experience for prospects and customers.  Marketing and Sales Alignment is proven to drive superior business growth and customer experiences!

Need some help?
Some businesses need a bit of extra help from an expert resource.  If you find this to be true, we’re here for you.  Just let us know .

Marketing Matters based in Stamford, CT in Fairfield County serves diverse businesses and organizations in CT, NY, NJ and throughout the US. We help clients across the entire marketing spectrum from gaining research and insights, developing strategy and plans, branding, traditional and digital marketing and communications, and aligning with and enabling sales to drive growth and achieve results in today’s evolving market.  For questions or to learn more, contact us by phone at 203.329.7773 or online.