5 Steps to Better Align Sales and Marketing

5 Steps to Better Align Sales and Marketing
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Are Sales and Marketing at Odds?  5 Steps to Better Align Sales and Marketing

Your ability and commitment to align sales and marketing matters.  Misaligned goals, roles, scope, or success metrics between sales and marketing can greatly inhibit revenue growth, profitability, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement.  You know the story…

When sales are lagging, Marketing typically blames the sales force for its inability to effectively follow-up on leads, sell solutions, negotiate, and close deals faster.  Conversely, when sales targets are being missed, Sales faults Marketing for not generating enough quality leads, for being unable to provide relevant sales collateral, for having unrealistic or inflexible pricing, and for being too out of touch with what matters most to key customers.

Both typically feel misunderstood and undervalued.  Regardless of the root cause, misalignment between sales and marketing hurts.  IDC found companies lose at least 10% of potential revenue growth from misaligned sales and marketing functions.  HubSpot reports that decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts due to misalignment costs a whopping $1 trillion a year.

A Better Way
Today’s organizations, however, acknowledge that there’s a better way for Sales and Marketing to work together.  Sales Managers know that when you align Sales and Marketing teams, results are simply better.  According to three recent studies by Sirius Decisions, Marketing Profs, Act-on, and HubSpot here’s how much better:

  • 24% faster three-year revenue growth
  • 19% better at meeting revenue goals, and 12% better at beating goals
  • 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates
  • 27% faster three-year profit growth

5 Steps to Better Align Sales and Marketing
When Sales and Marketing are aligned, sales cycles decrease, win-rates improve, and margins increase.  To succeed, we recommend bringing your Sales and Marketing departments together to clearly define responsibilities and collaborate in new ways.

  1. Define Your Ideal Target Customer and Value Proposition
    High performing sales and marketing functions ruthlessly identify, segment, and focus on target customers who fit their ideal client target profile where they know they will win most of the time.

    That is because ideal target clients don’t just buy your stuff; they passionately buy and use what you have to offer.  They don’t just need what you offer; they feel they must have what you offer.  And they are not merely satisfied with what you offer; they are thrilled with what you offer.

    It all begins with Sales and Marketing agreeing on your ideal customer profile and unique value proposition that sets you apart from the competition.  You will know you are on the right track when both groups can articulate your target client attributes and what differentiates you from the competition.

    Then it is Marketing’s job to create sales and marketing collateral that resonates with your target clients to enable Sales to get qualified meetings and close deals.  Without full agreement on this first step, it is almost impossible to align Sales and Marketing.

  2. Define Your Ideal Marketing and Sales Leads
    Once you agree upon your ideal target customer and your value proposition, it is time to define marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads.

    A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a prospective customer that is more likely to become a paying customer compared to other leads based on pre-determined demographics, activities, attributes, or behaviors that are aligned with your ideal target client profile and unique value proposition.

    A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospective customer that has been researched and vetted — first by marketing or business development, then by sales — and is qualified enough to move to the next stage in the sales process.

    Sadly, when sales and marketing are misaligned, 73% of MQLs on average are NEVER contacted by sales.  Until Sales and Marketing agree to criteria for MQLs and SQLs it is very difficult to measure progress and hold teams accountable.

  3. Don’t Chase the Wrong Customers
    We believe that the fundamental purpose of Marketing is to create brand awareness and generate consistent marketing qualified leads that have a high likelihood to turn into sales qualified leads. In short, Marketing should help set the stage to convert more sales prospects into buying customers.

    We believe it is the job of Sales to convert more sales prospects into buying customers by turning marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads — that turn into profitable customers.

    Both Sales and Marketing need to monitor the quantity and quality of leads and the ability to convert those leads.  Neither should try to be all things to all people or to chase every opportunity.  Only chase ideal target customers where your value proposition — or your relationship — should win.

    The good news is that there is vast room for improvement.  HubSpot reports an alarming 79% of marketing generated leads never convert to sales, and 73% of leads are never even contacted.

  4. Align Success Metrics and Rewards
    When both teams are trying to accomplish shared goals with aligned metrics and rewards, the chances of working at cross purposes diminishes. Review goals, team norms, roles, scope, success metrics, interdependencies, and rewards.  Make sure that they set both teams up for combined success.
  5. Build the Team
    Whenever there’s an opportunity to get to know each other, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, or build trust (strategy sessions, conventions, conferences, industry events, celebrations, appointing team liaisons, etc.), take advantage of the opportunity.

    Teamwork is founded on psychological safety, trust, vulnerability, empathy, accountability, and commitment.  While it can seem like the “HR-type soft stuff,” invest the time to strengthen relationships to play to each other’s strengths.

The Bottom Line
When Sales and Marketing recognize that they have a common goal and align their efforts more effectively, performance should soar, and finger pointing should begin to vanish.  What are you waiting for?

To learn more about how to get aligned, download our Latest Organizational Alignment Whitepaper

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