Are your sales and marketing teams aligned?

If you’re like most organizations, the answer is a firm NO. And that’s a shame because, as Ema and James Roloff explored in their February 27th Craft Marketing presentation, misalignment can cost you big time:

  •  Misalignment costs your business AT LEAST 10% in revenue each year. That’s top-line revenue growth that’s suffering just because your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned (IDC).
  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. This is often due to a lack of lead nurturing. (HubSpot.)
  • 60-70% of B2B content created by marketing is never used by the sales team in their sales process. In many cases, this is because the topic is irrelevant to the buyer audience. That’s what happens when sales and marketing don’t communicate with each other effectively (Content Marketing Institute.)

Why is this the case? According to James, it’s because marketing and sales have very different roles and responsibilities even though they’re going after the same end goal of driving top-line revenue growth:

Marketing: leads with a long-term strategy, goes after the entire market, is more focused on corporate brand and identity, more focused on the top of the funnel, more focused on nurturing leads, and is compensated with a salary.

Sales: leads with a short-term strategy, focus on individual prospects, is more focused on developing a personal brand and their reputation in the marketplace, usually more focused on the bottom of the funnel, tries to work on leads to close deals, and are commission-based.

As you can see, the two teams’ goals butt heads in multiple ways. Marketing feels that the sales team is bad at managing their leads, doesn’t understand their top-of-funnel metrics, and doesn’t appreciate them and their work. On the flip side, the sales team feels like marketing isn’t giving them enough leads, is focused on vanity metrics, and has a “go it alone” mentality.

The true cost of this misalignment: Less revenue, lower close rates, poorer customer service, slower deal velocity, and a bad work environment. To stop taking these losses, read on for three areas your sales and marketing teams need to focus on to boost your alignment.

3 Areas You Should Focus on to Align Your Sales & Marketing Teams

1.    Goal Alignment: Work Toward Revenue

The most powerful way to bring your teams together is to focus their mindsets on the shared goal of generating revenue. To start, encourage both teams to measure KPIs that drive toward revenue. Ema and James then shared their tips for how to lead this conversation.

Review Revenue Goals

Get your sales and marketing teams together and establish an answer to the question, “What are our revenue goals for the year?” After establishing that goal, you must determine how both teams will work up the funnel to achieve it. This is where it’s time to crunch some numbers and answer additional questions like:

  • “How big does our pipeline have to be based on our deals and close rates?”
  •  “How can we work together to nurture our deals in the pipeline?”
  •  “How many leads do we need?”

Set & Track KPIs for Each Team

Both sales and marketing need to set their own KPIs that tie back to the shared goal of generating revenue. If everyone on both sides of the aisle owns the same KPIs, nobody owns them, and nothing gets done. For example, you could set KPIs like:

Top of Funnel: For sales, the KPI might be Sales Sourced Leads, while marketing focuses on Marketing Sourced Leads (MQLs,) with the shared KPI being Total Leads.

Middle of Funnel: Sales might focus on the KPI of Stage Conversion and Velocity, while marketing focuses on the Content Journey and Attribution to Deals, with the shared KPI being Total Pipeline Size.

Bottom of Funnel: For sales, the focus might be on Deals Closed, while marketing focuses on Growth in Market Share, with the shared KPI being total revenue.

Build Dashboards to Track

If your CRM allows it, build dashboards in your CRM. Otherwise, you can use a simple spreadsheet to track your progress. Monthly, you should have touchpoint conversations where you focus specifically on how you’re driving revenue forward between teams.

2.    Customer Alignment: Focus on Your Ideal Customer

Identify The Ideal Customer

Next, sales and marketing must collectively determine who your organization’s ideal customer is. To determine this, sales and marketing should do an 80/20 analysis of current account lists and manually identify ideal customers. From there, look for trends like common industries, buyer roles, and company size.

Research Your Ideal Customer

Then, pick the top five best accounts that represent your ideal customer most effectively and research their customer journey.

Create Buyer’s Personas

Then, write your buyer personas and ensure every sales and marketing team member has a copy and knows how to apply it to their daily work.

3.    Buyer’s Journey

Gather your sales and marketing teams and go through the buyer’s journey stage by stage based on your experiences with past ideal customers. This exercise will help the marketing team create content targeting the right audience about the right topic. This way, sales will be more likely to use the content that’s created to close even more deals. Here are some questions to get you started:

Problem Awareness (Top of Funnel)

  • What is the persona’s problem?
  • What role is most impacted by the problem?
  • Why does the problem matter to them?

Solution Research & Active Buying (Middle of Funnel)

  • What are the solutions available to the persona?
  • What phrases or terms do they use when researching? This is where SEO comes into play.
  • What are the industry’s best practices?
  • Where are these solutions found?

Decision Making – Vendor Selection (Middle of Funnel)

  •  Who are you competing against?
  • How are options compared?
  • What social proof do your customers use?
  • How do they make the purchase?

Post Purchase (Bottom of Funnel)

  • What does success look like?
  • What does the ongoing relationship look like?
  • When do customers provide referrals?
  • When will they need to purchase again?

Implement a Content Strategy

Now that you have the background information to drive better content, make sure your creations are actually used. To accomplish this, create a content repository for your sales team. This will help them become aware of the content you’ve made and ease the process of locating it, so it gets used.

How to Start the Conversation

To get started on your alignment journey, Ema and James suggest the following tips:

  • Have monthly meetings with sales and marketing that focus exclusively on your alignment efforts.
  • Get real with data that is directly tied to revenue.
  •  Find your people. You won’t win over everyone in your alignment efforts, but there will be some people on both sides who are excited to work with you. And as your efforts start to succeed, the less enthusiastic people will trickle in.

The Outcomes You’re Going to See

  • Your revenue will increase
  • Your sales team will start using your content more frequently
  • Your close rates will increase

See You at Garth’s Brew Bar for March’s Craft Marketing

Craft Marketing invites you to its next live in-person event at Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison at 5:00 PM on March 27th, presented by Alyssa Spiel, Ace Hilliard, and Jessica Wagner on the value of professional development and continuing education in the time of mass layoffs. And as always, you’ll get to network with your peers and enjoy a delicious craft beer.

Thanks to our sponsors:


About the AuthorPicture of author, Kara Martin

Kara Martin, Content Writer at Naviant, specializes in written B2B content, from case studies to blogs and beyond. She transforms complex technical information into compelling, data-driven content that helps organizations turn their digital transformation goals into a reality.

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