3 Best Practices for Sales and Marketing Alignment

For the typical B2B organization, sales and marketing alignment is the ultimate goal. Yet, in most companies, the two departments operate independently—causing frustration and resentment on both sides.

If you’re struggling with sales and marketing alignment, here are a few compelling reasons to get these teams on the same page:

- Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual growth rate. Companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline (source).

- Sales and marketing alignment can generate 209% more revenue from marketing (source).

- When sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates (source).

Not sure where to start? Keep reading for the top three sales and marketing alignment best practices.

Create and maintain an open line of communication.

Marketing is frustrated with sales for not following up on leads and sales is frustrated with marketing for sending them leads that don’t match their buyer personas. This is an age-old issue—but who’s right? Turns out, both are:

  • Research shows sales reps ignore 50% of marketing leads (source).
  • Conversely, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, yet only 27% of those leads are qualified (source).

To bridge this gap, sales and marketing leaders must establish a communication model that allows for regular check-ins and a free flow of information between teams. We suggest holding a recurring meeting to determine the answers the following questions:

  • What does sales need and how can marketing provide it?
  • What does marketing need and how can sales provide it?
  • What does the sales process look like?
  • Do leads typically have a good understanding of products and services before talking to a rep?
  • What are the agreed upon buyer personas that each team should be targeting?
  • What types of content and campaigns attract the best leads?
  • What is sale’s definition of a good and bad lead?
  • What is marketing’s definition of a good and bad lead?
  • What can sales do better?
  • What can marketing do better?

Once both teams come together to answer these questions, hold regular status meetings to check in, report on any progress, and discuss areas of improvement.

Establish a Service Level Agreement (SLA)

An SLA is a formal contract between sales and marketing that details exactly what each team will be held accountable for.  Your SLA should be created and discussed during the recurring sales/marketing meetings mentioned above.

Set clear goals for each department and determine the specific metrics you will use to gauge success. Marketing goals should include things like number of leads, number of qualified leads, revenue, average deal size, etc. Sales goals should include follow up time, follow up frequency, and the percentage of marketing-generated leads sales is expected to follow up with.

Although this may seem a little extreme, research shows that companies who use sales and marketing SLAs achieve greater results. In fact, companies with an active SLA are:

  • 34% more likely to experience greater year-over-year ROI than those companies that aren’t,
  • 21% more likely to get greater budget allocations, and
  • 31% more likely to be hiring additional salespeople to meet demand (source).

For more information about creating an SLA, here are few helpful guides from around the internet:

Keep the customer in mind.

As a marketer, it’s easy to get caught up creating content and campaigns focused solely on the feedback you’re getting from sales. Sometimes, this can cause a blind spot when it comes to what the customer really wants.  In fact, 75% of buyers want B2B marketers to cut back on their sales speak in their content (source).

The same can be said for sales—it’s easy to lose track of quality when you’re focused solely on the quantity of calls/emails you’re making each day.

While sales and marketing alignment is essential for business growth, it should never get in the way of one thing—the customer. If each department is meeting its goals, but customers and prospects aren’t happy, you haven’t achieved sales and marketing alignment.  As Jill Rowley, Founder and Chief Evangelist of #SocialSelling, says “The new reality is that marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.”

Committing to internal alignment, especially within a large organization, is no easy feat. In fact, only 30% of CMOs have a clear process or program to make sales and marketing alignment a priority (source). True alignment requires a lot of trial and error. It isn’t something that can be checked off in a quarter, nor can it be implemented in one training session—but once achieved, sales and marketing alignment can make a significant impact on leads, revenue, and business growth.

For more information about sales and marketing alignment, check out these blog posts:

5 Actions to Foolproof Your Sales and Marketing Alignment Plan

How to Improve Sales and Marketing Alignment through Events

Lead Qualification: The Key to Sales and Marketing Alignment

20 Sales and Marketing Alignment Statistics

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