There’s often a misconception in the B2B space that marketing is secondary to sales, whereas, in reality, the two need to work hand in hand in order to fire up the lead gen engine. In this article, we take a look at some ways sales and marketing can work better together to generate real, tangible results.
A clear-eyed common business goal
When you think of marketing as ‘secondary’ to sales, that’s where you start having problems. When you instil a culture of seeing the two as complimentary, everyone’s mindset shifts towards being more collaborative. After all, there is a lot of dependency, especially in B2B that marketing has on sales and vice versa. The whole idea of alignment is understanding what those key dependencies are, aligning roles and responsibilities so everybody has a clear-eyed view of what the future looks like.
Common language and framework for business growth
One of the first ways to align is by creating a common language. As an example, what a ‘lead’ means for your marketing department (MQL), may be completely different to what it means to the sales team (SQL). If the marketing team says, ‘I've generated 27,000 MQLs’, but zero have turned into revenue, there's a terrible disconnect. A common framework or a common language and clear expectations is a starting point for any of this to create alignment.
Common business metrics and performance indicators
The second way to align is to look at performance metrics together, evaluate revenue goals and budgeting. This is critical, because how you budget against your demand gen plans, your account-based marketing plans, or inbound lead gen strategy - whatever those may be, you need to formulate targets together so you're all aiming for the same thing.
Once those things are clearly defined, you can consider creating a playbook that clearly outlines roles and responsibilities and who's doing what - it's a place to hold one another accountable. Every quarter, you can then review the metrics and playbook, and continue to iterate and evolve, so sales and marketing continue to complement each other and work like a ‘well oiled machine.’
Common mistakes to avoid when trying to get sales and marketing alignment right
One of the biggest mistakes is not getting C-suite buy-in and executive sponsorship. Even if the sales leader and the marketing leader are thinking, ‘yes, let's do this, let's walk arm and arm and go,’ if you don't have buy-in across the C suite, it's not going to take off and have the ‘oomph’ you want it to have.
And in times of economic uncertainty, the CFO or the CRO are often the key people in this equation, because they're funding the sales and marketing budget - but they're also looking at the business holistically. If there's a perception in the organisation, that marketing performs one way and sales performance another way, then it’s harder to convince the CFO that you’re anything but siloed.
How third party experts can help align your sales and marketing teams
As an agency, we’re often considered a ‘safe, unbiased third party’ who comes in to analyse an organisation’s lead generation and demand generation systems. Before even engaging with a client to help support their media and marketing strategy and campaign, we take a deeper look at their sales and marketing alignment. Are the MQLs being nurtured through the right marketing activities to become SQLs? Are there key things slowing the sales cycle down that could be sped up?
The solution could be as simple as instigating a segmented, automated lead nurture EDM campaign that turns those MQLs into SQLs. Or the solution could be optimising a landing page with video to convert better, or providing sales with the right collateral such as customer use cases and cost comparison tables. In many cases however, it’s more complex, and involves a complete cultural and mindset overhaul that starts at board-level and a serious dissection of the customer journey.
In essence, effective alignment is all about continued communication and collaboration. It’s about bringing all of your sales and marketing talent and resources together, in one place, and creating a playbook. This means sales and marketing can work together, driving demand, closing business, looking at the full customer lifecycle, tackling retention, renewal, cross-sell, upsell - all as one robust ecosystem.
This article was originally published in Marketing Mag.
This article was also featured in LBB Online, one of the world’s leading marketing news publications