Like any well-oiled machine, efficient companies owe their success to their key parts working well together to get the job done.
Keeping separate departments aligned is hard work, but it absolutely pays off both for the departments in question and the company as a whole.
- 1. Establish Shared Goals and KPIs
- 2. Define the Ideal Customer Persona
- 3. Work With the Same Definitions
- 4. Clarify Roles and Responsibilities
- 5. Formalize Duties in Service Level Agreements
- 6. Have a Well-Defined Lead Handoff Process
- 7. Align Content and Messaging
- 8. Rely on a Centralized Communication and Shared Tools
- 9. Meet up Regularly
- 10. Have Marketing Experts Sit in on Sales Calls
- 11. Prioritize Sales Enablement
- 12. Focus on Lead Enrichment
- 13. Establish Best Practices for Optimization and Feedback
In this post, we’ll be discussing the importance of sales and marketing alignment, how it can benefit your business, and the steps your departments should take to achieve it.
What Does Sales and Marketing Alignment Mean
Sales and marketing alignment is one of the biggest opportunities for businesses to improve the company’s sales process and achieve revenue.
It occurs when both departments purposefully synchronize their efforts to achieve company goals, and it’s indispensable for companies who want to succeed.
When the sales and marketing departments are aligned, they secure more sales.
Misalignment, on the other hand, has a profoundly negative impact on company sales.
If critical departments are misaligned, they will duplicate efforts, fail to capture opportunities, and cause a drop in customer satisfaction.
Aligning the efforts of marketing and sales and turning them into a unified front should be a priority for managers and company leaders.
This allows two departments to coordinate tasks more effectively and focus their efforts on achieving the same goal, i.e., closing sales and generating revenue for the company.
As they become better at exchanging information, taking advantage of leads, and exchanging feedback, their actions cultivate teamwork in the company.
For example, the Content Marketing Institute found that 60-70% of B2B content never gets used because it’s irrelevant to the audience. Simultaneously, according to MarketingSherpa, 79% of leads fail to convert.
If marketing and sales teams were aligned, they could directly address those issues.
Department alignment is necessary for achieving top results.
The Steps for Great Sales and Marketing Alignment
These are the steps that both departments need to take together in order to align and combine their efforts for the benefit of both.
1. Establish Shared Goals and KPIs
The first step for aligning your marketing and sales departments is to establish shared goals and KPIs.
When goals are misaligned, it can create friction between two key departments of your company, hindering communication and making the teams unable to exchange feedback and coordinate.
This causes a significant drop in overall company performance.
On the other hand, shared goals remind both departments that they’re in this together and should work alongside each other.
Companies should establish unified KPIs and goal tracking for sales and marketing to prevent these interconnected departments from chasing disparate things with limited success.
Without establishing shared goals and KPIs, your sales and marketing departments underperform in two separate goals, instead of working together to achieve top performance in one.
Both departments must be in tune with each other with regards to company goals and shared objectives.
Thankfully, there are solutions for creating common goals and encouraging alignment. You should try these practices:
- Have feedback exchange sessions between departments
- Identify which marketing objectives help the sales department reach its own
- Educate both departments about effective communication
- Agree on KPIs that are relevant to both departments
- Exchange analysis insights
Establishing shared goals and KPIs is critically important if you want to start the process of aligning your sales and marketing departments.
2. Define the Ideal Customer Persona
An ideal customer persona (ICP) focuses your efforts and facilitates making data-informed decisions to achieve goals.
When misaligned, both departments can end up wasting their efforts chasing a different ideal customer.
Defining a customer persona requires resources and time, all of which need to be justified with secured sales.
If there are discrepancies between the types of customers pursued by the two departments, they risk spending twice as many resources for achieving only half the results.
A well-aligned ICP between marketing and sales is necessary for top performance.
However, according to a report compiled by LinkedIn, on average, there’s only a 23% overlap between the target audience of marketing and sales departments within the same B2B company.
If departments within the same company don’t go after the same audience, they can’t be fast and efficient at securing sales.
Sales and marketing departments must focus on the same target, so that the efforts of the marketing team will complement those of the sales department, allowing both to secure more sales.
Eliminating any discrepancies between their understanding of the ICP enables both departments to go beyond their separate capabilities and reach the overall goal by working together to find solutions.
A tool like Soleadify enables you to find customers that fit the right profile with ease.
Defining the shared ICP is vitally important for achieving sales and marketing alignment.
3. Work With the Same Definitions
Marketing and sales departments will struggle to align unless they work with the same definitions and terminology.
When different departments use the same definitions to communicate, they build a faster, more efficient flow of information.
Establishing a shared terminology is critically important for improving communication between departments.
In other words, they improve the way they exchange ideas, feedback, and tasks.
When two different departments agree on the definitions and terminology, they actively reduce misunderstandings that can be harmful to company goals.
Departments that miscommunicate often underperform because they have increased risks of task doubling and unsynchronized priorities.
For example, when sales and marketing departments use definitions differently, the phrase buyer behavior can be misunderstood to mean customer needs.
Since behavior refers to the attitude that leans a buyer towards a brand, and needs are the desires that a customer has which a product or service can address, if the two terms are misunderstood, departments can double tasks and act uncoordinated.
Therefore, agreeing on definitions is key for boosting communication between sales and marketing.
To achieve alignment between the two departments, facilitate communication and guarantee top performance, it is vital that marketing and sales teams agree on the terminology.
4. Clarify Roles and Responsibilities
Clarifying roles and responsibilities is a key step towards achieving sales and marketing alignment.
Both teams must have roles and responsibilities clearly defined and assigned to achieve top performance.
Marketing departments must create demand and bring customers, while the sales department must qualify leads and close sales.
If those roles are not clearly delineated, team members can overstep their bounds, resulting in similar tasks being undertaken twice and mixing up the entire workflow.
This can even lead to conflict between the teams.
When responsibilities and roles are clarified, you can promote collaboration and effective goal setting between departments.
Everybody can focus on their own role to deliver the best performance. In case goals aren’t met, pain points are easy to identify, and you can establish accountability.
It becomes easier for both departments to set goals that align with one another and complement each role.
According to research by HRDive, 82% of respondents have difficulty holding others accountable for their performance results, with 92% reporting that the ability to do so is one of the top leadership needs of their company.
Achieving accountability at the workspace is a major issue for organizations.
Clarifying roles and duties can address that problem directly.
An aligned sales and marketing have responsibilities laid out so that both departments can achieve top performance and accountability.
5. Formalize Duties in Service Level Agreements
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is vital for formalizing company duties and achieving alignment between departments.
SLA document should disclose specific details about the obligations of both the sales and the marketing departments and contain the terms, conditions, and parameters that both departments have agreed on.
This way, the assignment of duties and responsibilities is formalized, moving both departments towards alignment.
SLA documents act as a contractual agreement between marketing and sales and ensure they will execute assigned tasks.
SLAs are great tools for incentivizing departments as they encourage departments to cooperate on achieving goals.
Since both departments are responsible for honoring their parts of the SLA, they have an additional incentive to deliver results.
A report by Sirius Decisions has found that B2B companies that have sales and marketing operations disclosed and properly documented achieve 24% faster revenue growth and 27% faster profit growth over a period of three years.
Therefore, ensuring that sales and marketing operations are in sync has a direct impact on how much revenue your business will generate in the next three years.
Formalizing duties is beneficial for businesses and SLA agreements between marketing and sales departments serve as tools to achieve this.
6. Have a Well-Defined Lead Handoff Process
Lead handoff is a critical step between marketing and sales that has to be coordinated to perfection.
A well-defined lead handoff process makes sure that qualified leads make a smooth transition from marketing to the sales department.
This way, the sales development representative can follow up with the prospect lead and convert them to a paying customer.
Lead handoff is where aligned sales and marketing departments capitalize on the leads.
When organizations have a seamless handoff process, both participating departments gain the perspective on how the tasks they each perform contribute to the success of the entire company.
This fosters teamwork and allows them not only to collaborate better but also to share feedback to make further improvements to the process.
Achieving a highly efficient lead handoff process can be challenging for many organizations.
Here are some amazing practices you should try to improve lead handoffs:
- Introduce handoff automation to reduce risks of mistakes and time to perform lead handoff time
- Have both departments do regular reports and check-ins
- Make feedback exchange common practice between departments
A well-defined lead handoff process is a natural extension of a strong lead generation strategy and you should make developing it a priority.
7. Align Content and Messaging
Content and messaging that have to be aligned in all stages of the sales funnel for best results.
When that is the case, companies are more effective at achieving sales.
Since both marketing and sales play a vital part in getting prospects through the funnel, when they are aligned in their messaging, they complement each other and enable a seamless buying experience.
For a high-performing sales funnel, companies should align content posting and messaging activities.
Misaligned content and messaging activities waste resources and confuse prospects passing through the funnel.
Producing content and spending time to communicate to prospects costs time, resources and opportunities, so it is important to ensure those efforts are successful as much as possible.
If the messaging seems inconsistent, your departments are wasting leads and resources in a dysfunctional sales funnel.
A study has found that 60-70% of content that B2B marketing teams produce doesn’t get used at all. This wastes companies around $50 billion.
The amount of those losses shows how vital it is for content to be properly used to secure sales.
That’s why it is important that sales and marketing stay consistent in their messaging.
Aligning these two components of the sales funnel is vitally important.
To achieve maximum effectiveness throughout the sales funnel, sales and marketing departments must work closely together.
8. Rely on a Centralized Communication and Shared Tools
Your departments should learn to rely on centralized communication and shared tools so they have the infrastructure to work together.
Having a centralized tool that’s available for employees of both departments facilitates communication and improves transparency.
With a shared communication tool, they are free to reach out to their colleagues from different departments and exchange information and feedback which nurtures teamwork and healthy communication between departments.
Providing marketing and sales teams with a centralized communication tool also boosts their productivity.
Thanks to the shared platform, they can access files and resources they need in real-time and quickly ask their peers for help.
Along with sales tools, communication tools for departments are your key digital assets for achieving more productivity.
According to Smarp, employee productivity increases by 20-25% in organizations where employees are well connected.
Providing your departments with a centralized communication tool helps employees exchange information in a timely manner.
Shared tools offer organizations opportunities to connect departments and improve productivity.
For your marketing and sales departments to align, they have to rely on—and derive insights from—the same tools.
9. Meet up Regularly
Your organization should encourage regular meetings so that sales and marketing departments can connect better and keep everyone on the same page.
Meetings offer an opportunity to discuss the execution of tasks and inform other departments of recent developments.
Keep in mind that meetings between departments are not optional if you want to keep everyone up to speed.
Regular meetups have a positive impact on the coordination and planning capabilities of your marketing and sales departments.
When multiple departments get together, they can make cross-department plans and stay ahead of negative surprises that might affect their work.
Your organization would do well to schedule regular meetings between sales and marketing, since those two departments work towards shared goals.
Changing work dynamics and making room for cross-department meetings helps the two departments coordinate their efforts and provide and receive feedback on the work that’s been done.
Here are some ways you can create opportunities for meetings between departments in your organization:
- Do weekly debrief meetings
- Attend industry-related events together
- Brainstorm content and ideas together
- Hold meetings outside
Regular meetups are one of the best practices for achieving sales and marketing alignment.
10. Have Marketing Experts Sit in on Sales Calls
Having your marketing experts sit in on sales calls is a great way to raise their awareness of the needs and practices of that department.
Additionally, inviting a marketing expert to join the team during calls is a great way to bring outside value to the sales department.
An expert from the marketing department can provide unique insights and help sales experts improve their results.
This way, your marketing and sales departments will cooperate more effectively.
Since marketing experts excel at identifying customer pain points, have them sit in on sales calls.
They can help pinpoint flaws in the sales process that your sales department might’ve missed and come up with new sales methods that land more conversions.
Additionally, the insights they acquire that way will help them shape their campaigns.
According to a survey by Demand Gen, strengthening the collaboration between marketers and sales team members to convert leads remains one of the biggest challenges for organizations.
Having marketing experts add their professional value provides a solution for this problem and your sales calls can achieve more conversions.
You should invite a marketing expert to join the sales team on calls and increase alignment between marketing and sales departments.
11. Prioritize Sales Enablement
Your marketing department should focus on enabling sales. Prioritizing sales enablement is a great tactic for boosting revenue.
Since experts from your marketing department can help define customer needs, your sales team will benefit from their knowledge and use it in their communication with customers.
This will enable them to become more connected with the customers and achieve more sales.
Your marketing experts can use their expertise to educate the sales team.
When sales reps attain new skills, they will become more effective, so any additional education of the sales force your company invests in will reflect positively on customer conversion.
Research by CSO Insights found that 70% of B2B buyers fully define their customer needs before reaching out to a sales representative.
For sales reps to be able to close the sale, they have to understand the needs of their customers.
Prioritizing sales enablement helps sales reps convert qualified prospects.
To align marketing and sales, you should make sales enablement one of your cross-department priorities.
12. Focus on Lead Enrichment
Lead enrichment refers to the practice of collecting supportive data around your leads, and
It is important because it allows your sales reps to achieve more conversions.
Doing it effectively helps push sales and marketing into alignment.
When members of the marketing team prep supportive data around leads, sales reps can be better prepared and more effective at converting leads to customers.
Successful client prospecting will deliver relevant information about the prospects will help sales reps create a personalized outreach effort that is more likely to succeed.
Lead enrichment is a fantastic collective effort that fosters alignment between sales and marketing.
Since your sales reps depend on your marketing specialists to supply them with supportive data around the lead, it helps them develop trust and mutual dependence.
This way, marketing and sales departments align together.
A study by Experian Research has shown that the average lead-to-conversion ratio is 143:1, but companies with better lead supportive data and database management have a ratio of 63:1.
More accurate data supporting the lead has a profound impact on the success rate of your conversions.
Lead enrichment is one of the best supportive practices for securing more sales.
13. Establish Best Practices for Optimization and Feedback
Your departments should adopt practices that are process-centered and focused on optimization.
A process-centered approach will address any inefficiencies between departments and bring them together.
When process improvement becomes a cross-department aim, you’ll see an increase in collaboration between departments.
If marketing and sales are free to exchange feedback, ideas and brainstorm solutions together, they can align their efforts more efficiently.
Feedback plays a vital role in optimizing a process that demands cross-department teamwork.
Introducing new feedback and optimization practices between departments that don’t communicate frequently is beneficial but often difficult.
You can start by adding these meetings to your schedule:
- Meetings for optimizing qualified lead generation
- Sales enablement meetings
- Revenue metrics analysis
When your sales and marketing meet up regularly to exchange feedback on these points, they’ll be able to optimize the processes between departments.
If you want your sales and marketing to align, you have to establish feedback loops and optimization practices.
In this article, we’ve discussed the benefits of sales and marketing alignment and shared insight into how you should achieve it within your organization.
Remember that sales and marketing alignment is a fundamental principle for cooperation and coordination between two departments for the benefit of the company.
By working together closely, different departments have an opportunity to teach and learn from each other at the same time and create a thriving professional environment.