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The Power Couple:  Sales and Marketing Alignment

Posted by Dean Moothart

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February 24, 2020

The Power Couple Sales and Marketing Alignment

Hollywood has seen its share of celebrity power couples over the years – starting with Desilu (Desi Arnza and Lucille Ball), then leading to others like Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), Bennifer (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez), TomKat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes) and more recently, Kimye (Kim Kardashian and Kanye West). This isn’t a new phenomenon. However, super couples with cute nicknames aren’t limited to Hollywood. 

The business world may have the most powerful power couple of all. In fact, this couple is so powerful that they have a commanding presence in virtually every business around the world.  No, it’s not Bill and Melinda Gates or Barack and Michelle Obama. So, who is this business power couple?  It’s Smarketing — sales and marketing.

Breaking the Barriers Between Sales and Marketing 

Marketing Infrastructure ChecklistUnfortunately, in most companies, the sales and marketing power couple have a lot in common with Brangelina, Bennifer, and TomKat. There’s a spark of attraction, but soon the reliance on one another for success produces a lot of drama and dysfunction.  

Instead of producing revenue growth and higher net promoter scores, the interaction between sales and marketing departments often only leads to increasing levels of frustration and an atmosphere of finger pointing and excuses. The sales team says, “Marketing wouldn’t recognize a good prospect if one were standing on their desk. We need more qualified leads.”  And marketing counters with, “Our Sales team can’t sell a glass of water to a man dying of thirst.  We give them leads, and they just don’t know what to do with them.” 

Some organizations, though, have successfully addressed the dysfunction. They’ve broken down the walls between two disparate teams, promoted open communication, and established common goals, objectives, and mutually agreed-upon supporting processes. This isn’t usually a quick and easy task, but it can be extremely worthwhile. 

Steps to Align Sales and Marketing 

According to CSO Insights, companies that can align their sales and marketing teams see 19.3% improvement in quota attainment and 16.3% improvement in win rates.  So, how can the sales and marketing power couple of your company join forces; stop spinning their wheels separately; and achieve these kinds of results? Below are some of the most important steps to take.

Leadership “Buy In”

True sales and marketing alignment will not occur if it’s being driven by only one department.  Mutual trust can only be established when leadership from both teams are involved in the process and the interest of both group of stakeholders are fairly represented.

Jointly Define Target Personas

Most marketing organizations have done quite a bit of research to define their target markets and to understand their key decision-makers. Involve the sales team, not only as a sanity check for your research, but also to add a dose of reality and detail into this foundational element of your go-to-market strategy. 

Agree on Lead Qualification Standards

Often the most common source of frustration is poor communication. Communication can be improved if everyone is speaking the same language. Establish specific criteria and definitions for terms like:

Involve Sales in Marketing Planning

Salespeople have keen insights into emerging market opportunities and potentially troublesome competitive scenarios. Salespeople should be sharing what they hear on the front lines and be taking an active role in identifying the marketing campaigns that represent the shortest route to revenue.

Involve Marketing in Sales Process Planning

What happens once a lead is generated? How and when is it passed to the Sales team for follow-up? Who is it sent to? What will they do when they get it? Do they know what to say? Do they know what to do? What is the next-best-step for that lead? Do they have the tools they need to advance the sale? What sales collateral content or other resources would help improve the sales team’s performance?

Instill Accountability

Everyone involved in the sales and marketing functions must know that they’re reliant on each other for success. They must have common goals and agreed upon expectations. Then everyone must be held accountable to follow through. A mutual SLA (service level agreement) that’s jointly negotiated and everyone signs will communicate the importance of being accountable.

Agree on KPIs

Accountability is fostered further when key performance indicators (KPIs) are established, consistently monitored, and included in frequently shared reporting. The reports should reflect performance metrics that span the entire sales and marketing process (i.e., website traffic, leads, MQLs, SQLs, Opportunities, Closed Deals, and Revenue).    

Meet Frequently

Leaders and stakeholders from both sales and marketing can move toward acting as one cohesive team when they communicate open and honestly. This can’t happen with only “once in a while” alignment sessions. It requires regular meetings (weekly or at least monthly) to share feedback, review performance, and brainstorm next steps.  

Taking these steps will help your sales and marketing teams get in synch, streamline their processes, drive revenue, and ultimately perform like a true power couple.

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