Sales Productivity

Aligning Sales and Marketing: A Quick and Easy Guide to Boost Sales

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Is your business prioritizing marketing and sales alignment? If not, now’s the time to start.

Both sales and marketing teams play crucial roles in a business and have a massive impact on the bottom line. When these teams work together in harmony, it shows in the revenue number. But when there’s misalignment, the impact on the business can be dire.

Luckily, taking the proper steps to align sales and marketing teams can prevent any serious issues from arising, prepare you to tackle the ones that already exist, and put your business on a path to success.

Not sure how to get started? We’re here to help. Let’s dive in.

What is sales and marketing alignment?

Essentially, aligning sales and marketing teams means getting everyone on the same page. Aligning sales and marketing involves creating shared goals, strategies, and communication between the two teams. For example, this may include integrating workflows and/or objectives.

What’s the point of sales and marketing alignment? Well, in short, it could make the difference between a business that’s successful—and a business that runs itself into the ground.

When sales and marketing teams are aligned, they work more effectively and perform better. Working together, aligned sales and marketing teams can deliver high-impact marketing initiatives, boost the effectiveness of sales, and grow revenue.

However, when these two teams don’t work together, the business consequences are dire. Studies show sales and marketing misalignment is costing businesses more than a trillion dollars per year! Not only that, but sales and marketing misalignment is the number one reason why an organization’s annual revenue stagnates, or even declines.

That’s why it’s crucial for smart businesses looking to grow to align their sales and marketing teams as soon as possible. After all, time is money! When it comes to protecting (and growing) the revenue number, every second counts.

How can sales help marketing?

The main goal of every sales team is (you guessed it!) to make sales. However, that doesn’t mean the sales team is limited to that one goal. In fact, the sales team can use their skills to help the marketing team in a variety of ways.

If there’s one advantage the sales team has over marketing, it’s their proximity to the customer. Developing and maintaining close customer relationships is something every sales professional needs to be able to master and prioritize.

Because of these relationships, sales teams have a wealth of valuable information to offer marketing teams when it comes to buyer needs, product capabilities, and operational efficiency.

Sales teams can best support marketing teams by sharing intel on real-world solution applications, market dynamics, process efficiency, and content validity. By sharing this insider information, the sales team ensures the marketing team is updated on buyers’ pain points and needs, which allows them to execute marketing initiatives more effectively.

How can marketing help sales?

Marketing teams are most focused on guiding buyers through the early stages of the buyer journey in order to prepare them for future engagement with the sales team. Once a deal is closed, many businesses will also continue to market to customers so they can hopefully deliver additional solution value.

When it comes to supporting the sales team, marketers can be a huge help by educating buyers, providing competitive intel, engaging customers on a regular basis, influencing the market, and (most importantly) nurturing and qualifying leads.

By taking these actions, marketers can ensure buyers are educated, interested, and engaged, which makes it much easier for the sales team to close a deal at the end of the day.

Organizational problems alignment can solve

When a business is looking to grow rapidly, aligning sales and marketing teams needs to be a top priority. Otherwise, it won’t be long before the misalignment causes irreparable damage to the business.

But where should you begin? Let’s review some of the main problems sales and marketing alignment can help solve.

Poor customer data quality

The amount of data entering the CRM is higher than ever before. In fact, over 328M terabytes of data are created every day!

This avalanche of data makes data maintenance incredibly difficult, and if you don’t have a solid data management plan in place, it can become overwhelming. This leads to an increase in data entry errors, maintenance mistakes, and oversights, lowering the quality—and ultimately, the usability—of your CRM data.

Strong sales and marketing alignment can help uncover hidden patterns and trends by encouraging teams to centralize technology. Technology solutions that equally serve both sales and marketing teams make it possible to tackle the hordes of data coming into your CRM every day—and ensure it remains useful. Learn more about dirty data and what your business can do to improve CRM data quality.

Difficulty handing off leads

Handing off leads, otherwise known as lead handoff, can quickly create tension between sales and marketing teams.

For example, let’s say the marketing team generates hundreds of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) at a high-profile marketing event. While it would make sense for the sales team to pursue these leads, the sales team decides to pursue recycled opportunities instead. The reason? They don’t think the leads that marketing acquired are qualified enough for them to pursue.

Establishing how leads are scored (and when sales should act on them) puts both sales and marketing on track to operate more efficiently. This ensures that any interested buyers receive a timely response, and no opportunity is ignored.

Stagnant growth

Launching new products or exciting marketing campaigns are great ways to encourage business growth. However, as business growth plateaus, these types of initiatives can lose their luster. When buyers aren’t picking up what you’re putting down, aligning sales and marketing is the key to rekindling your go-to-market fire.

When sales and marketing teams are tightly aligned, they can take advantage of closed-loop feedback. This feedback can be used to empower leaders from both teams to take a close look at buyer behavior, market dynamics, and new opportunities. Then, they can adapt and change strategies if needed to pursue them effectively.

Problems demonstrating ROI

When you’re working on your own, it can be tough to properly demonstrate ROI. For example, it would be especially difficult for someone on the marketing team to prove a content asset significantly influenced a deal. When decision-makers can’t clearly see where deals are being influenced, it can make it especially difficult for them to understand where investment is needed.

This is where sales and marketing alignment is incredibly valuable, as it ensures credit is given where it’s due. This minimizes any frustration between teams who may feel that one department is pulling less weight. It also provides a more transparent view of business investments and how they are impacting the bottom line.

Under-utilized sales content

The marketing team can spend a great deal of time crafting killer content for the sales team to utilize. However, a lot of the time, the content marketing provides goes unused by the sales team!

Why? Well, poor sales and marketing alignment is often a contributing factor.

The marketing team creates, develops, and delivers content and other assets to the sales team quite often. But it’s much less often that they’re creating this content with any input from the sales team. The result? The marketing team’s sales content doesn’t meet the needs of the sales team, or worse, fails to impact deals.

When marketing and sales alignment is prioritized, marketers are given the ability to create content that addresses the sales team’s needs effectively. This results in much greater adoption of sales content from the marketing team.

Sales and marketing alignment best practices

Now you know what problems sales and marketing alignment can solve, but we’re still left with the big question: how does great sales and marketing alignment begin? Here are some of the main ways to build strong marketing and sales alignment.

Share goals

When it comes to defeating misalignment, the first step is to recognize and make clear to both teams that they (and the rest of the business) are all working to achieve the same goals. Whether these objectives are wider company initiatives, such as boosting revenue by X amount, or more granular, such as launching a new product or service, it’s crucial that both teams agree on business outcomes.

When it comes to their individual operations, sales and marketing leaders tend to have blinders up. What does this mean? Well, the people on the marketing team are accustomed to thinking about objectives in a generalized way, such as the number of leads generated at an event.

The sales team, however, usually has a more individualistic view, like a specific account they’re trying to close on a deal. Combining these perspectives by uniting them under one common goal makes it easier for sales and marketing teams to understand how their respective goals relate. The best part? It boosts collaboration!

Agree on processes

When it comes time to execute goals, sales and marketing managers will need to interact with each other. This type of cross-functional collaboration can be useful, but it can also be complicated when teams are misaligned.

Agreeing on processes ahead of collaboration allows managers to engage one another more easily. This eliminates any confusion about roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

How can you do this? Establish and document how you expect sales and marketing teams to interact. This will help streamline collaboration in the future.

Centralize communications

The biggest contributor to sales and marketing misalignment? Poor communication.

Centralized communications and a regular distribution cadence are key to ensuring that stakeholders never miss important news or conversations. This also increases transparency.

Centralize your communications via a dedicated tool, like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Inform teams about where they can locate updates and how frequently they should expect to receive them. This way, everyone is always in the loop.

Make an investment in sales enablement

Sales enablement is usually the go-to when it comes to increasing sales and marketing alignment. In fact, many businesses are already relying on sales enablement for this reason!

A sales enablement team can make sure that no assets are presented to the sales team without training that explains how to use them effectively. This ensures the content is used the way it is supposed to be used and has the desired effect.

Have difficult conversations

Difficult conversations are necessary for teams (and businesses) to grow. Encouraging constructive feedback can bring sales and marketing closer together, since this type of transparency helps people from each team understand why certain decisions were made.

How can you have these difficult conversations? Try asking for feedback in a formal setting, like a forum, to ensure respectful interactions. Embracing tough conversations will ensure teams don’t just make the easy choice, but that they make the right one.

Strategize together

When it comes to building go-to-market strategies, sales and marketing teams should not be riding solo. Sales and marketing leaders need to bring their teams together to ensure everyone understands the state of the market, what buyers’ main pain points are, and how your product or service can address them.

Scheduling regular meetings or hosting an off-site for sales and marketing to come together in conversation is a good place to start. Whatever approach you choose to take, make sure you’re doing it in real time. Open and honest discussions can only happen if people are given the time and space to facilitate and/or contribute to them.

Strategizing together ensures both the sales and marketing teams have cross-team buy-in, which prevents any miscommunication and sets you up for success.

Lead by example

One of the most important (but often overlooked) things that sales and marketing can do to stay aligned is lead by example. When upper-level executives and other leaders make a conscious effort to remain aligned, this can have a powerful influence on direct reports.

Celebrating cross-functional wins, or even just saying thank you, goes a long way toward building alignment.

Aligning sales and marketing is the key to success

Aligning sales and marketing teams is no easy feat. However, it’s crucial to the success of your business. Following the steps outlined above is a great place to start.

Next, check out our cheat sheet, Top 5 Complaints of CRM Users and How to Address Them, to learn how small changes in the CRM can have positive impacts on sales, marketing, and your business as a whole.