5 Steps to Achieving Sales and Marketing Alignment

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Keeping your sales and marketing teams aligned is pretty darn vital for success. You can chuck money at as many tech solutions as you want, but if you're teams aren't aligned, your business can't thrive. As our resident salestech expert Frenci says: "SalesTech will never replace your marketing and sales team - People will buy from your story, not from your sales tools". 

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Now, this doesn't mean your sales and marketing teams need to make each other friendship bracelets. Although that would be adorable. There are just a few simple steps you need to take in order to do it, too. How may? Well, that's the surprise. Please don't look at the title of this article if you're big on spoilers. 


Businesses with aligned marketing and sales teams are up to 67% more efficient at closing deals. Sales and marketing alignment is potentially the biggest opportunity to grow your business; when they're united, there's a higher chance of achieving your goals like ROI and revenue. 


Plus, misaligned goals can demotivate, reducing sales' perception they can achieve their goals. On top of this, misaligned goals signal unnecessary difficulty. 


As Krista Neher, CEO at Boot Camp Digital said, “The key to success is understanding that sales and marketing are complementary – not competitive. Strong marketing supports sales teams.” 


Not convinced yet? Well, take a look at these sales and marketing alignments stats:

  • Well-aligned sales and marketing teams drive more than 200% revenue growth from marketing tactics.
  • Organisations with aligned departments can achieve up to 38% higher sales win rates. 
  • Marketing and sales alignment leads to 36% higher customer retention.
  • Aligned organisations save 30% on their customer acquisition cost. Plus, their customers have a 20% higher lifetime value.
  • Gaining new customers can cost 5X as keeping existing ones.
  • Companies with “tightly aligned” departments reach 24% faster revenue growth and 27% quicker profit growth for three years.
  • Companies see an average of 19% faster revenue growth and 15% profitability when sales and marketing teams are aligned. 
  • Over 80% of sales and marketing executives describe each other’s departments positively


How can you tell if your marketing and sales teams are misaligned?

Well, keep an eye out for these sights creeping into your office:

  • Your sales team begin to complain about "low quality" leads
  • The salespeople disqualify a high percentage of MQLs immediately
  • Customers aren't engaging with your ads, content, and emails despite an increase in ad spend and marketing budget
  • Marketing collateral and resources go unused by the sales team
  • Both teams operate independently most of the time

As Douglas Karr explains it:

An analogy I’ve used for quite a while with marketing is fishing. If you’re a sales-driven organization, you just want to get out on the water and throw your lure. The more rods you have and the faster you can get them all in the water, the greater the chances that something will bite.

The problem is that the fish may not be where your boat is, may not like the bait you’re using, and as productive as you are—you may come home empty-handed.

So, how can you see the difference between a misaligned team and a completely aligned team? Well, let's have a look:

Misaligned Teams Will:

  • Be focused only on departmental goals
  • Have no interactions or exchange of feedback between teams
  • Use separate marketing automation and CRM tools
  • Be unaware of what happens before or after their key duties
  • Accuse the other team of poor quality leads or lack of follow-up

Aligned Teams Will:

  • Have common goals
  • Come together for monthly meetings
  • Develop a clear definition SQL
  • Use an integrated system to access data for sales and marketing performance
  • Show an appreciation for feedback from the other team
  • Have a complete view of the customer journey 
  • Value the shared internal communication channels. 

Right-o, let's jump into the steps you can take to develop this alignment nirvana. 

Step One: Share your Goals

The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. So, if you want to tackle misalignment, the first step is recognising, formally, that your teams are working towards the same goals. These can be company objectives, such as doubling revenue, or specific, such as successfully launching a new product line. 

Sales and marketing leaders tend to have blinkers on when it comes to their own objectives. Marketing tends to see objectives in generalisations, like the number of leads generated, while sales often have a more individualistic view, such as a specific account they are trying to close. Combining these perspectives under a joined goal can help both teams understand how their objectives relate to one another and can develop collaborations. 

This also requires your teams to develop a shared language. If your sales and marketing team use different terminology for your products or have different definitions of what qualifies a lead, or even holds unrealistic expectations for the other team, it's a recipe for failure. 

So, how do you align your sales-marketing terminology? Follow these steps, then follow the next, bigger steps, and then you're done with the steps. Promise. 

  1. Create a company-wide glossary for consistent terminology
  2. Define the levels of the sales funnel and what makes a qualified lead
  3. Implement a Service Level Agreement to establish expectations of what marketing and sales will do for each other

Step Two: Bond Around a Common Objective

This step is all about valuing the symbiotic relationship between the two teams. Sales and marketing should agree on a common objective, such as generating more profitable and longer-lasting customers. Then, you should begin to consider the teams as equal partners in achieving this goal. 

Although sales and marketing might not agree on everything all the time, they have to remain Stallworth on their unification when it comes to the bigger picture. Don't develop ideas of "marketing's pipeline" or "sale's funnel" as separate concepts. 

Sales and marketing are different disciplines but can complement each other perfectly. Each has its own language and culture. But these shared goals and objects bring the teams together, so it's critical for marketers o try and understand a salesperson's daily work, and sales reps need to understand how marketers do their day-to-day. This empathy will result in longer-lasting alignment.

Step Three: Agree on Processes 

Cross-functional collaboration works well. When it works. The whole process can be pretty darn complicated. But that's why we're here. 

A repeatable model for enabling cross-functional collaboration means that each teams managers can easily engage one another using agree-upon language (as previously mentioned), thus eliminating confusion on roles, responsibilities, and expectations. Then, you need to determine and document how you expect sales and marketing teams to interact. You should ask questions like:

  • Will they interact through established crews or in an ad hoc way?
  • How much time should participants expect to invest in a project 
  • What does 'good' feedback look like?

Determining these concepts will streamline collaborative engagements later down the line. 

However, there seems to be a lack of agreement on how often sales and marketing believe they are currently meeting. 26% of salespeople say they never meet with marketing to discuss the pipeline, while 31% of marketers say that they meet with sales weekly to discuss the pipeline. This ambiguity should not exist. Official recurring meetings should take place between the teams at least every six weeks to:

  • Discuss new and existing goals
  • Outline strategy 
  • Define common terms 
  • Review past, present, and current campaigns
  • Openly discuss challenges

Step Four: Invest in Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is your secret weapon in increasing sales and marketing alignment, with many organisations already relying on it to do just that.

Enablement can act as a neutral conduit between the two teams. For example, in the case of content, a sales enablement team can ensure that assets are never presented to sellers without training and guidance on how to use them effectively, so you can make sure that the content is being used to its highest potential. 

By investing in an enablement team, you're creating a reliable conduit of information between organisations. Additionally, you'll be allowing sellers and marketers to focus on what they do best. 

Step Five: Use Closed-Loop Reporting 

You can identify whether you're operating in an open-loop if you say yes to these two questions: Does your marketing department know what happens to a lead after it is in sales' hands? Does your sales department understand the prior web behaviour that qualified the prospect as a lead? 

So, closing the loop for sales and marketing alignment looks like the two teams sharing the same reporting data. Cross-functional communication in reporting means you gain transparency with the lead intelligence shared by the teams. When both teams are accountable for the data they share, it forces teams to follow systems correctly, and report more accurately. 

You need to be looking at the following in closed-loop reporting:

  • Customers by marketing source 
  • Conversion rates 

When data is shared that shows this information, your teams can each understand your customers more intensely. Plus, that'll help marketing know which lead generation strategies are working best. 

To align sales and marketing, you have to focus on more than just the lead handoff. Deliverables, data and structuring are needed at all levels of the funnel by both teams to ensure alignment leads to revenue growth. 

So, if you follow these five simple steps, twist round the first bit round the second bit, and add a bead, you'll have some very fancy sales and marketing alignment friendship bracelets. Plus, you might even see a 36% higher customer retention rate. Both are good things.