What is sales and marketing alignment?

Sales and marketing misalignment is extremely common, and companies with divided sales and marketing teams that function separately are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Both your marketing and sales teams have the same goal of driving sales and revenue, so it is crucial to keep them in sync. Sales and marketing alignment is potentially the largest opportunity for improving business performance today. When marketing and sales teams unite around a single revenue cycle, they dramatically improve marketing return on investment (ROI), sales productivity, and, most importantly, top-line growth.

The silos between sales and marketing departments are a long-standing issue throughout every industry. The problem with misaligned sales and marketing teams is the inefficient processes that arise, ultimately wasting time creating content without a clear objective. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute reports that 60 to 70% of B2B content is never used because the subject topics are irrelevant to the buyer audience. Meanwhile, 79% of marketing leads never convert due to a failure to nurture consumer connections (HubSpot). If both teams were on the same page, all that work would be less likely to go to waste.

When sales and marketing align, revenue increases, the sales cycle shortens, and conversion rates improve along with forecast accuracy. One method of aligning sales and marketing is sales enablement. Sales enablement helps companies deliver a better buyer experience, create alignment between sales and marketing teams, and empower their representatives to be more efficient and productive. Industry leaders in sales and marketing have started to regard sales enablement as the new standard of doing business.

With the ever-changing B2B sales funnel, silos are being thrown out in exchange for cross-functional teams working together, and for good reason. The buying behaviour of today’s B2B customer has evolved so much that marketing must support sales through each stage of the sales cycle in order to nurture leads every step of the way. 

Common problems that sales and marketing alignment can solve

Today’s complex buying cycle introduces new challenges for marketing and sales alike. However, when sales and marketing align, many of those problems can be resolved.

  • Problem: The sales team isn’t doing anything with the leads I’m sending them. According to research from Marketo and ReachForce, sales ignores up to 80% of marketing leads, instead of spending half their time on unproductive prospecting. Since sales have prospects to recycle, they’ll spend their time focused on older leads if marketing isn’t providing another option. If sales and marketing take the time to align on goals, lead definition, and handoff process, both teams will spend their time more effectively on promising leads.
  • Problem: I need to align my marketing strategy with our sales strategy. Sales and marketing alignment is vital for both organisational success and boosting morale. In order to sync up, sales and marketing teams should schedule regular meetings to keep track of shared goals and communicate freely about workflow, obstacles, and wins. Ensuring both teams have a voice when setting strategies and planning content will be the most impactful at each stage in the buying process. 
  • Problem: I need to simplify my workflows. Sales and marketing alignment not only unifies leadership and combines shared goals and targeted personas, but it can also simplify workflows by sharing tools. Instead of marketing logging into one system and sales into another, both teams can use the same dashboards and tools, including customer engagement platforms. 
  • Problem: I need to increase revenue and show a clear marketing ROI. It can be difficult to show the true value of your marketing program without a direct response or purchase to measure. This is especially true for B2B marketers focused on lead generation programs with long, complex sales cycles. In order to demonstrate a clear marketing ROI, you must be able to track and measure impact in an integrated fashion across all sales and marketing systems.
  • Problem: My sales team is relying on me to help them to shorten the sales cycle and go to market faster. The way the B2B buying process has evolved has resulted in a more complex buying cycle and a massive shift in customer relationships. Buyers are choosing to delay interactions with sales and tend to ignore traditional tactics such as outbound phone calls and emails. In order to meet customers where they are, sales and marketing professionals must work together to shorten the intricate new type of sales cycle. This includes syncing segmentation, targeting, content development, contact strategy, nurturing, engagement, closing, and customer support.

Components of sales and marketing alignment

In order to have a truly coordinated sales and marketing team, everything must sync up, including goals, roles, systems, and technology 

  • Aligning goals. Marketing projects are often long term, including setting a foundation with strong branding and generating qualified leads. Marketers look at metrics and focus on increasing brand recognition, as well as scoring and nurturing leads for the long haul. Salespeople, on the other hand, are looking to meet quotas, help solve problems for prospects, or be the personal touch that someone is looking for. They want to know what the marketing team can do for them now so that they can make the sale today. 
  • Aligning roles. Often, the sales and marketing departments view their respective roles in the revenue generation process quite differently. Sales worries about meeting quarterly goals, while marketing believes they are the only ones thinking strategically. Sales wonders why they have to generate their own leads, while marketing complains that sales ignore everything marketing generates, and so on. Coming to a common understanding of roles can help to remedy these inconsistencies.
  • Aligning systems and technology. Powerful account-based marketing (ABM) and marketing automation tools enable one-to-one conversations with prospects instead of just one talking to many. For maximum benefits, marketing must ensure the methodology, process, and terminology used to support these efforts is in alignment and collaboration with sales.
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