How To Ensure Sales & Marketing Alignment

Aditi Chordia for Outplay

By 

Aditi Chordia for Outplay

Published 

August 23, 2022

How To Ensure Sales & Marketing Alignment

Imagine this: You receive an email to try out a free software application. You see that it’s useful for your business, so you decide to give it a shot. You get connected with the sales team, but it turns out they know nothing about the free software trial. After a few discussions, the sales team offers a discount instead of a free trial, so you decide not to take it up.

What follows after is nothing short of a nightmare. You are bombarded with calls and emails with new offers and discounts. Frustrated, you ask the company to remove you from the mailing list. But the emails and phone calls don’t stop. At this point, you’ve sworn to never engage with the company or its products. What's worse is that you have passed on this experience to your friends and family, who may also never buy their software. 

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This isn’t a unique scenario. Many people have also gone through a similar experience that soured their buying experience with a company. More often than not, this is a direct outcome of the lack of synergy between sales and marketing teams. Sales teams aren’t aware of the marketing strategies in place, and the marketing team doesn’t have the accurate insights to tap into the target audience.

A study by LinkedIn shows that in the US alone, the lack of B2B sales and marketing alignment costs companies an estimated $1 trillion annually. It’s time the companies look into driving a cross-departmental strategy to drive the efforts and sales and marketing teams simultaneously to increase the pipeline growth and revenue.

In this article, we will cover:

  1. What is sales and marketing alignment?
  2. The problems sales and marketing teams can solve together
  3. 5 basic ways you can start aligning sales and marketing teams

What is sales and marketing alignment?

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Sales and marketing alignment, also known as smarketing, is an agreement between the two teams to share a system of communication, goals, and strategy so that they can operate in a unified manner. Both the teams have the same end goals to deliver a seamless experience to the customers, increase conversion rate, and boost annual revenue. 

Previously, sales and marketing worked as two separate departments, where marketing teams looked at the top of the funnel activities, and the sales team focused on the bottom of the funnel. 

The straightforward approach isn’t possible today. Customers are engaged with the brand before the purchase and even after the deal closes. Both teams can benefit from a real-time dashboard of the customer engagement data that can help to serve customers where they are. A continual collaboration loop between sales and marketing professionals ensures a responsive, authentic, and relevant customer experience. 

Common problems the sales and marketing teams can solve together

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Low-quality leads

The sales team often ignores the leads generated by the marketing department and recycles the older, unused leads from before. Marketers struggle with data disconnect because they don’t know where the leads are coming from and which leads are getting converted. This makes finding high-quality leads difficult for marketers, and the sales professionals waste their resources pursuing older leads who may not have an active interest in buying the product anymore.

Poor customer data

Both sales and marketing teams work in silos with different data sets that might not solve customers’ pain points effectively. Synchronization of data between the teams can help to discover hidden trends that can help both sales and marketing to function seamlessly. The high-definition customer view with real-time data ensures both the sales and marketing teams are on the same page with the customer journey. 

Underutilized sales content

Marketing teams often create and develop sales assets and collaterals without inputs from sales reps. This is unusable for the sales team, which leads to a significant waste of resources and time.

When the sales and marketing teams are aligned, marketers can create content relevant to the buyer persona and target audience to help sales rep understand their prospects better and close deals quickly.

Unnecessary long & complex sales cycle

There is a dramatic shift in buyer behavior, and the old promotional tactics such as cold emails and cold calls don’t work as well anymore.

In order to know where your customers are in the buyer journey, sales and marketing need to be unified through various stages such as segmentation, targeting, content development, nurturing, closing deals, customer engagement, and post-purchase support.

No demonstration of marketing ROI

It can be challenging to quantify the return on investment from the marketing efforts. This is more difficult for B2B marketers focussed on lead gen with a long and complex sales cycle.

Aligning sales and marketing efforts helps to understand how one impacts the other, which can justify the investment in marketing efforts. The marketing team can match the results against the internal KPIs and other metrics to know which strategies are bringing results and which are ineffective.

5 ways to ensure sales and marketing alignment for your business

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#1: Set shared goals

To align the sales and marketing teams, both teams need to agree upon the shared goals and vision, whether it’s increasing overall revenue or launching a new product line.

Here are the parameters to align sales and marketing effectively:

  • Lead Scoring: Lead scoring is a methodology used to determine the worthiness of leads depending on the interests and behavior of the potential customers towards the products or services. This is based on their current positioning in the buying cycle, the interest they demonstrate, and where they fit into the business. It’s used by both sales and marketing teams, but when used together, it can help to generate more revenue and strengthen the buyers’ journey.
  • Lead generation: Once the lead moves from the ‘friendly’ to ‘interested’ stage (from the top to the middle of the funnel), It’s important to start qualifying them. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are those leads that have displayed interest in your product or services. A sales qualified lead (SQL) is the MQLs passed by the marketing team, which the sales team had interactions with, and then identified as sales-ready. While these functions can work separately, companies double their leads and revenue and decrease back and forth when both teams work together. 

#2: Create joint KPIs

Key performance indicators or KPIs are benchmarks designed to help the sales and marketing teams measure progress against the objective. 

Sales and marketing teams measure different KPIs. For sales teams, it can be getting new leads, signing customers, and renewing customer contracts. For marketing, the KPIs can be the number of leads, quality of leads, and campaign results. When these are not aligned, the results are often different. Creating and tracking joint KPIs allows both sales and marketing to identify problems in customer acquisition, which can help to fix the leaks in the funnel.

Ensure frequent meetings between the teams where marketers and sales teams can collaborate on OKRs (objectives and key results) and agree on shared metrics to measure performance.

#3: Unify workflows, processes, and communication

As both teams start to work together, creating shared systems and processes is important to eliminate confusion.

Determine how the sales and marketing teams will interact with each other. Will it be hierarchical or ad hoc communication? How will the teams give feedback to each other? How will they set goals and KPIs? 

While creating the process, it’s also important to determine modes of communication to keep everyone on the same page. Dedicated tools such as Slack or Gmail can be the team's go-to for communication. The sales team knows which activities the marketing team is focused on right now that can help with their current objectives and vice versa. 

#4: Work together for post-purchase growth and customer retention

The buck doesn’t stop at converting leads, especially when it can cost up to 7x to acquire a new customer than to retain old ones.

After a customer has bought the product, the marketing team needs to ensure the customers stay with the business, get them to try new products, offer discounts and free trials, and post-purchase customer support. The sales team must work with marketing throughout the process and be ready to step in when a customer wants to know about a new product or service.

#5: Invest in sales enablement

Sales enablement is the process of assigning tools, content, and other resources to the sales team to sell faster and better. 

Marketers can help with sales-ready content that increases engagement and attract leads. For instance, sales enablement can ensure the assets are presented to the sellers after training, so the marketing content is used by the sales team. Similarly, the marketing teams cannot create content without sales reps’ inputs, so the information is aligned with the sellers’ interests and can help them to close deals faster. 

The alignment of sales and marketing can create a reliable hub of information that both teams can benefit from. 

Are your sales and marketing teams aligned?

Aligning your sales and marketing teams is the only way to grow your business to an enterprise level. Both teams must come together for data-driven insights into the sales process and marketing strategies to help them better serve customers.

Marketing teams often don’t know how to capture leads and track their prospects. An integrated tool can help with the data disconnect, so the marketers reach out to the right prospects at the right time and always know the next step. Sales Analytics can help sales reps to understand their leads and drive better quality prospects with accurate insights.

Outplay makes it easier for both the teams to move into ‘smarketing’ and drive efficient, authentic, and relevant customer experience. Want to know how we do that? Book a demo today and find out.

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