Sales and Marketing Alignment

Sales and Marketing Alignment

I’ve spent a good number of years planning and running marketing programs with companies of all sizes. One thing that still perplexes me is the amount of strife that continues to exist between the sales and marketing organisations in many companies.

Conversations – when not particularly bad – tend to follow this line of thought:

We do not get enough leads and the ones we get aren’t good enough.’

‘Sales does not follow-up on our leads – maybe we have the wrong sales people.‘

Here a few questions I was asked at a recent client workshop on this topic.

I: What is the meaning of Marketing & Sales alignment?

In the business-to business sector, a well-known source of tension is the relationship between many sales and marketing executives. Evidence of this can be heard with comments such as, ‘Marketing only does advertising in our company’ or ‘These are not leads. Sales doesn’t know how to close leads.’ Or even, ‘I have no idea what marketing does for us.’ Whether or not these complaints are legitimate or simply the result of frustration at not meeting corporate revenue or customer satisfaction goals, the end result is the same – reduced productivity, lack of focus, poor communications, work dissatisfaction and a failure to meet targets.

When Sales and Marketing teams are aligned within a company, they work cooperatively to meet a set of agreed upon goals.

Areas where cooperation should be seen:

  • The Buyer’s Journey – It is more important than ever that companies understand how, where and why their customers buy. Joined-up Sales and Marketing teams will align their strategy, approach, process and activity.
  • Campaign Structures – An agreed view on nomenclature, lead definitions, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), owners, targets and ‘what success looks like.’
  • Integrated Campaigns – Successful marketing campaigns are integrated in approach and execution. Well thought-out campaigns that incorporate input from Sales during inception improve chances for success.
  • Planning and Measurement – A cooperative, communicative process for planning and agreed targets will stimulate dialogue verses finger-pointing.

II: Why do many companies have major Sales and Marketing alignment issues?

There could be a variety of reasons, but three of my favorites that tend to solve a significant part of the problem if fixed are:

  1. Management doesn’t understand Marketing. The top decision-makers do not understand the full contribution that marketing can make and should make to the business.
  2. Marketers are not adequately trained to be true partners with Sales in the revenue generation process. Many come from communications or advertising backgrounds and do not understand or take into account the required commercial elements.
  3. Companies lack an integrated planning process to enable (or force) Marketing and Sales to craft joined strategies and tactics.

III: What are the 3 most typical mistakes that prevent Sales and Marketing from working together?

  1. Lack of agreed goals.
  2. Different vocabularies
  3. Not having a full view – or having too many different views – of data.

IV: What can be achieved by optimizing Sales and Marketing alignment?

Oh! The world looks a lot different: to customers, buyers and to Sales and Marketing professionals inside the company.

Revenue can increase, customer satisfaction can improve and the overall work environment inside the company can go from abusive in the worst cases or counterproductive in the best to communicative, successful and even enjoyable.

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