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Marketing and Sales Alignment Missteps: Top Mistakes to Kill Alignment

Need a quick test to determine if marketing and sales alignment is an issue at your company?

Ask someone from marketing how the (month, quarter or year) is going. Then ask someone from sales the same question. The results can be incredibly telling. If the two responses don’t match up or resemble anything close to the cartoon below, lack of marketing and sales alignment could be an issue within your organization. If sales reports having a bad quarter, marketing shouldn’t be out celebrating. Something is broken. Something failed.

In a recent collaboration with Steve Farnsworth, we interviewed 6 marketing leaders on the state of the marketing and sales union and uncovered common missteps that can potentially push marketing and sales so far apart, they can’t get imagine being in the same cave – er – on the same page.

Common Missteps

Assigning Different Goals to the Marketing and Sales Organizations

“What I’ve seen for many companies, my experience at Eloqua, Forrester Research and Reed Elsevier is the best way to have alignment is for the head of marketing and the head of sales to have the same goal, and the goal should probably be closed business. Very often you’ll see that the head of sales has closed business or bookings as their target, but marketing’s target is leads or opportunities. That’s not the right way to do it because we all know you can just create leads. A lead can be a name in a phone book if definitions aren’t well managed.” – Brian Kardon, Lattice

Not Having a Full View of the Data

“A big mistake in the sales and marketing alignment process is not having a real handle on the data. It’s very easy to talk about metrics and reporting, but where it goes south is when we tend to use anecdotes. When we aren’t using the full set of information available to us, it’s challenging to figure out where the real problems are.” – Katy Keim, Lithium

Not Speaking the Same Language

“The big mistake is that sales and marketing are not communicating with each other well enough or listening to each other and hearing each other’s language. What I mean by that is even in well-aligned marketing and sales organizations, you’re going to find that they aren’t focused necessarily on the exact same metrics to measure their own performance.” – Jon Miller, Marketo

Multiple Reports, Dashboards and Opinions

“First, marketing should be aware of what metrics sales is looking at – the average sales price (ASP), the length of time deals take, etc. Often those are indicators of what’s happening. For example, if ASP is decreasing, the marketing programs are potentially skewing towards events or programs that are addressing a smaller market that may be less appealing to the sales cycle. Looking at the length of sales, potentially different sources of programs, campaigns or even the branding could be affecting those. Often numbers that feel like sales KPIs are often indicators of what’s happening on the marketing side. Marketing should be looking at a common dashboard with the sales team. I know that sounds a little cliché but it’s true. in front of that, marketing should be looking at indicators that then address those issues.” – Maria Pergolino, Apttus

Poorly Defined Hand-off

“One mistake is that sales and marketing will discuss the hand-off position between the two teams without going into the right amount of detail when defining a sales ready lead. It’s important to really get both sales and marketing to agree on all the different aspects to it. Many companies run into this problem a fair amount of the time because the marketing team may pass leads over to the sales team, while the sales team may look at the leads and reject them.” – Mike Volpe, Hubspot

Having a Silver Bullet Mentality

“The promise of technology, hands-down, is one of the biggest inhibitors to success between the two organizations. There is a tremendous amount of really powerful value propositions that exist on behalf of software companies that are selling to sales and marketing. Pick your Salesforces, your Oracles, your Eloquas, your Marketos; the promises are absolutely enormous. The promise is that when you select a software partner, whether it is on behalf of the sales team or the marketing team, is that it is going to solve all your challenges. This promise that software is going to fix everything for you or even make it incrementally better is one of the biggest fallacies that exist in our space. One of the biggest challenges between sales and marketing teams is thinking they can fix the problems that they have purely by investing in software.” – Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Mindjet

Need more information? Check out the full version of Straight Talk for more solid advice and know how on achieving marketing and sales alignment in your organization.

Many thanks to Brady Bonus for collaborating with us on this cartoon!


   Image Credit(s):                Brady Bonus                    

Written by

Amanda Maksymiw