5 Essential Strategies To Align Sales and Marketing

The battle between sales and marketing has been a long and bitter one. A study by the Corporate Executive Board found that 87% of the terms used by sales and marketing professionals to describe each other have negative connotations. The lack of alignment between sales and marketing can be crippling. According to Forrester Research, companies with poorly aligned sales and marketing teams experience a 7% annual revenue decline as compared to those with more tightly aligned teams.

Here are five tips to point you in the right direction in terms of achieving alignment between sales and marketing:

1. Orchestrate strong communication channels  

When asked to identify the primary obstacle to achieving alignment between sales and marketing teams, one might be inclined to point to contention over lead quality between the two teams. While this is certainly one contributing factor, it (contrary to popular belief) is not the leading factor. In fact, according to a survey by DemandGen and Insideview. the greatest challenge associated with achieving alignment is a lack of inter-team communication. Nearly half (49%) of sales and marketing respondents identified communication as the top challenge.

It’s critical to establish strong communication channels between sales and marketing teams. At a minimum, sales and marketing team members should meet on a weekly basis. These meetings should be devoted to discussing what is working and what is not.

It’s also good practice to ensure that sales and marketing teams are physically co-located in the workplace. Ideally, sales and marketing teams should not be situated at opposite ends of a floor (or, worse yet, on different floors). The casual interactions that are facilitated by co-location are essential to fostering communication.

2. Agree on definitions for key metrics

It’s essential that sales and marketing teams speak the same language. According to research by CSO Insights, only 44% of companies have established a company-wide definition of a qualified sales-ready lead. Both teams need to agree on key terms. At an absolute minimum, there needs to be agreement on the definition of a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL).

3. Implement SLAs

Service-level agreements (SLAs) can move waters in terms of ensuring integration between sales and marketing teams. An SLA is a written agreement that defines how sales and marketing teams will achieve their specific objectives. It solidifies, for example, that the marketing team is responsible for delivering X number of MQL each month or each quarter to the sales team. Jointly agreeing on the responsibilities and expectations of each team goes a long way in terms of ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

4. Clearly define success metrics and measure results

The misalignment between sales and marketing is exacerbated when success metrics are vague and/or not monitored regularly. The implications are detrimental and infectious. In scenarios such as these, it’s easy to play the blame game.

By clearly defining success metrics and tracking results, each team can be held accountable for its results. MQL to opportunity conversion rates, average deal size, average deal velocity, and the percentage of marketing content leveraged by sales, are but a few of the very relevant and important metrics to track. Ideally, sales and marketing teams should use the same dashboards and jointly evaluate their performance. Marketing should celebrate only when sales does.

5. Invest in predictive sales and marketing intelligence technology

No matter how strong communication channels are or how much structure has been put into place, sales and marketing teams will remain misaligned if they don’t experience results. Technology can be an enabler in this regard. Predictive sales and intelligence tools like Enlyft allow sales and marketing teams to identify the prospects that exhibit the highest buying propensities.

When equipped with highly effective lead scoring intelligence, marketing is able to pass off more high quality leads to sales. Sales team members are less likely to express frustration over valuable time wasted on leads that are unlikely to convert. According to research by Nugrowth, 68% of “highly effective and efficient” marketers identify lead scoring as a top revenue contributor.

The importance of attaining alignment between sales and marketing cannot be overstated. The benefits are no small potatoes. A study spearheaded by App Data Room and Marketo found that sales and marketing alignment can cause an organization to become 67% more effective at closing deals, reduce friction by 108%, and extract 209% more value from marketing.

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