Oil and water. Toothpaste and orange juice. Sales and marketing. Sometimes things just don’t go together. That last one, though? That one really needs to come together. For companies who have achieved tightly aligned sales and marketing functions, they’re seeing 38% higher win rates and 36% higher customer retention rates, according to MarketingProfs. Beyond that, it simply makes sense for the people putting your brand’s message out in the world (marketing) to get along and be in sync with the team speaking to the people who see those messages (sales), doesn’t it? According to recent data, 92% of respondents fully agree with the sentiment.
Terminus, in partnership with UK-based research firm, Vanson Bourne, recently commissioned a study to compare and contrast the state of go-to-market programs of B2B businesses in the US, UK, France, and Germany. The study, which can be found in full here, discovered that fully integrated sales and marketing teams were rare, regardless of region. However, two interesting findings emerged that indicate how some of the best-performing companies are successfully integrating sales and marketing to achieve consistent revenue growth.
Of the 500 sales and marketing professionals surveyed, only 24% indicated that their sales and marketing teams were fully aligned and working towards the same strategy to the fullest extent. Regionally, US-based respondents were more integrated with 30% reporting that their teams’ relationships couldn’t be improved, while UK-based respondents agreed only 13% of the time. Interestingly, it was the larger companies (those with over 1,000 employees) who reported having stronger sales and marketing alignment 27% of the time. Only 20% of smaller companies reported the same.
While sales and marketing alignment is a nearly ubiquitous goal– again, 92% of all respondents agreed that a fully aligned sales and marketing team is vital to activating a successful go-to-market strategy – there’s a fascinating difference in opinion on how it’s achieved. Account-based marketing, a strategy through which sales and marketing collaboratively focus on a finite set of named accounts, is an obvious trait of well-aligned sales and marketing teams. 49% of respondents indicated that their sales and marketing teams need to be fully integrated before employing an account-based strategy, while 50% believed this alignment was an end result of such strategies. To clarify, companies should align sales and marketing before expecting to see positive results from an ABM strategy, not the other way around, indicating there is still much education to be done here.
So, then how do companies go about achieving this much-vaunted alignment? The data indicates that there’s a clear path to expediting this alignment and it’s through trusted, third-party partners. Getting started with account-based marketing can seem daunting, but of the respondents who say they rely somewhat or heavily on a trusted third-party, the vast majority are in the earlier stages of their ABM journey with 78% belonging to the “implementation” stage. As ABM programs mature, reliance on third-parties diminishes but one aspect remains: the elusive alignment of sales and marketing teams!
Within the research, there is evidence that among companies who rely heavily on a third-party, over two-thirds have fully integrated sales and marketing teams. This provides a strong indicator that having a trusted and neutral third-party capable of aiding the strategy for both sales and marketing teams actually accelerates the alignment of those teams.
While it’s still an unfortunate truth that placing sales and marketing teams on the same page is easier said than done, the trend towards an account-based, go-to-market approach is proving to help companies modernize and accelerate their revenue growth. Before that can be accomplished, though, there needs to be some alignment between sales and marketing. As for fledgling ABM programs, the evidence suggests that bringing a third-party in as a sort of revenue therapist helps that evolution happen faster and stick around longer.