Today’s marketers have a variety of tools to position and promote a company, product, or service. But if marketing and sales efforts are not aligned, market success cannot be achieved.
Think of the elements in the yin-yang symbol. When integrated, they are whole — making a perfect circle of unison and harmony, but when pulled apart, they still have their own distinct strengths.
This is a great way of looking at marketing and sales. When both functions leverage their individual strengths to work together toward a common goal, they are a power team — complementing each other while contributing to revenue growth.
Don’t like metaphors? Many business surveys have emphasized this point.
One study reported that 56 percent of aligned organizations met their revenue goals and 19 percent surpassed them.1
In contrast, only 37 percent of misaligned organizations met their revenue goals and only 7 percent managed to exceed them.1
So, aligning marketing and sales helps businesses grow — faster and more efficiently. And there are four key considerations marketers should keep in mind as they work to create that important alignment.
1. Set a Shared Goal
No matter the industry, marketing and sales alignment cannot be achieved unless both are clear on — and work towards — the same overarching market goals.
The market goal must be broad enough to allow each team to set its own unique objectives, but specific enough so that it’s clear how each team’s objectives align with the ultimate goal.
For example, creating a 5 percent growth in revenue is a shared goal. Generating a 5 percent increase in website leads is a marketing goal that moves the organization closer to its overarching market goal.
2. Flesh Out Shared Responsibilities
Creating and accomplishing marketing and sales objectives that hit shared goals is not as easy as a team developing a “plan of attack” and insisting that people follow along.
Back to the yin-yang symbol — marketing and sales need to rely on each other for the balance and cross-departmental input that leads to a mutual understanding of where areas of responsibility overlap, and how they can complement each other.
Work together to figure out where marketing and sales share the responsibilities for achieving the goal. By communicating with each other and planning together, it should be easy to recognize where joint objectives lie and how they can be attained based on past statistics and the shared goals of the company.
Establishing different methods of collecting leads at trade shows is an example of where there is ample shared responsibility between marketing and sales.
3. Agree on Systems of Accountability
Marketing and sales should be accountable to each other and share status on action items and vital stats that have an impact on all efforts.
The best way to do this is to set up predetermined inter-team tracking and reporting processes.
For example, tracking and reporting on how many marketing-qualified leads marketing passes to sales and how many of those leads sales follows up on within a month is a great way to measure the activities of both teams. And it provides an indicator of how both marketing and sales are contributing to an overarching goal.
4. Be Transparent
It’s important to be transparent with each other. There’s no point in hiding stats and getting possessive over things like progress reports and lead lists if you’re working as a team trying to achieve the same overarching goal.
Sales should be sharing any difficulty they are having following up on marketing qualified leads. Marketing might have to improve on the ways it filters through leads, attracts different audiences within the target market, or provides additional sales support materials.
Marketing should be directly supporting the sales team by mining the market knowledge they have about customer issues, concerns, and pain points that have come up in sales conversations. This makes it easier to develop new content to hit those points.
Alignment Leads to Market Success
Ultimately, working together to address market objectives will lead to market success. The strengths of both teams will be leveraged in an integrated effort to present, position, promote, and sell the target audience on the value of your product or service.
You can read a real-life story about the need for alignment between marketing and sales in Notes From the Road to Marketing Nirvana – Part 5. I highly recommend it! This is a great example of where sales and marketing aren’t aligned in the slightest, and how to best approach and fix the situation.
1 (Act-On Sales & Marketing Alignment Survey, 2015) http://ledgeviewpartners.com/blog/10-stats-prove-sales-marketing-alignment-critical/