Over the last few years, the phrase, “sales and marketing alignment” has become a major buzzword. But aside from all of the flashy stats touting the success of closely aligned sales and marketing departments, there isn’t a ton of advice out there on how to actually align sales and marketing at your company.
That’s why today, we’re taking a look at the full picture of marketing and sales alignment by exploring the what, why, and most importantly, the how of building an aligned marketing and sales department.
What is Sales and Marketing Alignment?
First things first, let’s get clear on what we’re talking about when we say sales and marketing alignment. Simply put, sales and marketing alignment is the process of creating a shared vision of the problem your company solves for your customers, and a shared goal of driving revenue.
This shared understanding is then employed by marketing to create content, campaigns, and lead nurturing programs that support the sales team in identifying the best leads to follow up with. It also helps your sales team get your best prospects over the finish line, faster.
Why Align Sales and Marketing?
The why of aligning sales and marketing teams is a no brainer today, with 91 percent of buyers preferring not to engage with sales until the middle or end of their buying journey. As a result, marketing content and campaigns have to do the work that sales reps used to do in the middle of the nurture process.
In fact, misalignment between sales and marketing costs B2B companies 10 percent of revenue or more per year. Companies with good “smarketing” (sales and marketing alignment) practices in place generated 208 percent more revenue from marketing efforts. And when sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36 percent higher customer retention and 38 percent higher sales win rates.
While the what and why of sales and marketing alignment are hard to ignore, the how is often where companies end up getting stuck. Like most things in life, aligning sales and marketing is much easier said than done, but success doesn’t require a massive budget or an organizational overhaul. You can start seeing the benefits of aligning your marketing and sales teams by employing some of these simple ideas.
Foster Inter-team Connections
Start by creating more opportunities for your marketing and sales teams to build a relationship across both departments. Strengthening the connection that individual team members feel will allow information to flow more freely between departments and encourage joint creative problem solving.
This kind of connection can be difficult to force, which is why it’s important to create opportunities for it to occur organically within your company culture. So try creating a peer mentor or partnership program to pair up marketing and sales team members and encourage new personal relationships between teams.
The physical set up of your office is also important to consider here. Experts recommend seating marketing and sales teams near each other, and employing “team tables” of four to six people to encourage maximum team cohesion and group problem solving.
Build New Processes
Building sales and marketing alignment ultimately requires a constant flow of information between marketing and sales, but that kind of seamless communication requires structure, especially when you’re working to implement changes in how your teams communicate. Not to mention, trust is absolutely critical here.
Joint editorial and content development meetings can help your marketing team draft content that your sales team wants and can actually use, based on feedback they are hearing from prospects.
Setting up recurring time for sales and marketing to connect on what is working on each side can also help further align your teams behind their shared ultimate goal: building revenue. Carve out time for teams to review successful sales calls and accounts together, and review messaging that is resonating with prospects. Marketing can also share top content performance, and keep sales in the loop on upcoming campaigns and tactics.
Use the Right Technology
Ultimately, closely knit marketing and sales teams rely on data flow between teams to inform a more targeted, and tightly aligned strategy in both departments. But to see the kind of success described in flashy statistics requires a much more sophisticated flow of information than word of mouth can offer.
Above all else, successful sales and marketing alignment relies on marketing’s ability to send qualified leads to sales. Today, that means employing marketing technology to improve lead quality. By jointly identifying terms like MQL, SQL, and lead scoring models between marketing and sales, both teams can ensure they are working to identify useful information about prospects. Most teams will require marketing automation technology to build sophisticated lead scoring models that encompass these jointly created definitions [more on this here].
It’s also important not to overlook qualitative information in the flow of data about your prospects between marketing and sales. Tools like interactive content can help you ask questions of your prospects that help decipher buying interest from buying intent, improving the likelihood that sales is following up with the right leads.
Whether you are working to hone the processes of sales and marketing teams that are already aligned, or bringing together two teams who rarely communicate, these ideas can help marketing and sales better understand their individual needs, and create a process for working together seamlessly moving forward.
Read more on how content can support your demand generation and sales and marketing alignment efforts in our guide below.
Read more: “Smarketing” Plan