Your sales reps complain about the quality of leads they get from marketing. Your marketing team gripes that it doesn’t get the data it needs from sales. And it goes on and on… but does it have to be this way?
Sadly, too many B2B leaders aren’t making any progress in ending the battles. Despite an untold number of articles, webinars, and workshops addressing the problem over the past ten years, 90% of professionals surveyed in 2020 still say that sales and marketing misalignment exists. Moreover, 97% of respondents say marketing creates content without the sales team’s input.
This can’t continue, right?
The best way to solve this “sibling rivalry” is to dig deep into the root cause of the friendly conflict. So, let’s talk about the most common reason for sales and marketing misalignment and explore an easy, three-step process that can help you stop the bickering once and for all.
Sales and Marketing: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
The root cause of sales and marketing misalignment comes down to how each group defines the word customer. For your sales team, the definition of a customer is obvious: it’s the people who want to buy your product. Your customers already know they have a pressing problem. They’re desperately seeking a solution. This gives you a golden opportunity to position your sales team as the hero of their journey.
On the other hand, whose job is it to make your sales team your buyers’ heroes? Marketing! It’s a service provider for sales, especially in high-performing organizations. That means sales reps are marketing customers, too. So if your sales team is unhappy, it’s marketing’s job to be their hero and collaborate to find a solution. The best way to make that happen is to help your marketing team adopt a sales mindset and align their primary goal of helping each other.
3 Steps to Sales and Marketing Alignment
I’ve worked in both sales and marketing in my career, and one of the best decisions I made as a marketer was to listen in on sales calls. As a result, I walked away with unique insights that I would’ve never figured out alone. So today, I encourage all marketing leaders to have their staff do the same thing.
Create opportunities for your marketers to hear what happens when your sales reps talk to potential buyers. They’ll learn facts about the fundamental questions buyers are asking and the responses and actions it takes for sales to close a deal. And they’ll gather a treasure trove of insight into buyer pain points that they can use to drive more precise lead scoring and content development.
2. Develop a plan
Now that your marketing team has direct insights from sales, it’s time to take everything you’ve learned and embed it into your overall marketing and sales strategy. This will require sales and marketing leadership to sit down together and agree on both individual team goals and shared goals.
The ideal sales and marketing strategy plan should look like a pyramid and flow from the top down. It starts with executive-level buy-in. Your C-suite may set a goal, like generating $100 million in revenue by Q4. Sales and marketing will then have their own goals and objectives—such as achieving a set number of sales-qualified leads (SQLs) or marketing-qualified leads (MQLs)—but those goals must all tie back to the overall revenue goal.
The key to ensuring sales and marketing alignment within your plan is to let sales lead the definition of what makes an MQL. If they develop the lead scoring, they’ll be much more likely to turn the MQLs they get from marketing into SQLs, and, eventually, buyers.
Bonus tip: Create at least one KPI tied to the pipeline when setting marketing-specific goals. This will give your marketers a feel for the pressure and anxiety that sales reps face on a monthly and quarterly basis, helping create tighter alignment between the two teams.
Step three will be easy if you’ve already completed steps one and two. You’ve done the hard work of listening and planning. Now it’s time to drive results. As you do so, commit to regular meetings with your sales and marketing teams, so they continue to communicate and collaborate.
I find it particularly helpful to include marketing in post-deal follow-up meetings. Explain who was on the prospect’s buying committee. Discuss which campaigns resonated with them. Walk through the steps it took to get them across the finish line. When marketers join these conversations, they’ll get the knowledge they can use to support sales better.
Get Sales and Marketing Aligned To Drive Results
This three-step plan works because I’ve done it myself at another organization. When we got to Step 3, we went from 23 sales decks to just two—one for SMBs and one for enterprises. We also took 500 different dashboards in Salesforce and organized and consolidated them into only a few. And we did it all in just 60 days.
Your marketers and sales reps deserve better than constant bickering and endless guesswork. So start bridging the gap by learning more about successful sales strategies, messaging, and execution here. And if you want help aligning your sales and marketing teams, just shoot me a message.