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Why The VP Of Sales Should Care About Marketing and Sales Alignment

What Is Marketing and Sales Alignment?

Many people think marketing and sales alignment means putting people in more meetings together, but that’s usually a waste of everyone’s time. True marketing and sales alignment means blurring the line between the two traditional functions and operating as a coordinated, cohesive revenue generation engine. Sales will still have its role, and marketing will still have its role. But instead of operating from different plans, true alignment means unified goals, strategies and execution plans.

Tragically, many efforts to create better alignment and results between marketing and sales at B2B organizations are dead before they even begin.

It’s not due to execution or focus, lead definitions or effort. Unfortunately, in many cases, it’s the head of sales that doesn’t buy into the program, doesn’t support it with his or her people, and therefore kills any chance of it working and creating value for the organization.

But marketing and sales alignment is one of the keys to success for today’s sales leaders. Below are seven compelling reasons sales leaders should advocate and support marketing and sales alignment:

The Result Of Better Marketing and Sales Alignment Is Higher Quality Leads

Sales teams worldwide have complained and will continue to complain about the quality of their leads. Part of marketing and sales alignment is the presence of a coordinated, agreed-upon definition of qualified lead. Marketing only passes these pre-defined qualified leads to sales. In return, sales will typically agree to thoroughly follow up on these leads.

Now the sales team is working with better, more qualified leads and as a result, freeing up time for sales reps to do what they do best – close business.

Happier Sales Reps Leads To Better Retention

Sales reps who struggle to hit their number, slog through not-ready leads and feel they’re on their own often get frustrated and leave. And every head of sales can tell you eight reasons why it’s incredibly expensive to lose even an average rep (plus have to find, train and get a new one to quota).

Sales reps that get better leads and are supported with an aligned marketing organization tend to be happier, more productive, and stick around.

Well-Aligned Marketing Will Provide Faster Support & Solutions To Sales

Every sales team I know has a laundry list of things they’d like from marketing. And most sales teams complain that they don’t get these tools delivered fast enough, or that some things languish on the list forever.

With better alignment around revenue responsibility, sales and marketing can agree on the order and urgency of those support tools. If marketing is also responsible for revenue contribution, they’re just as motivated to get the right tools completed and delivered quickly.

Sales Will Be More Focused And Achieve Better Results

Imagine you had a pre-determined definition with marketing about what a Sales Qualified Lead looks like. Imagine these are the only leads your team receives. Yes, volume may go down from what they’re used to, but I bet your sales reps will be more productive and have healthier pipelines as a result.

Sales And Marketing Alignment Means Shared Revenue Accountability

When sales are down, sales gets blamed. But if you’re aligned with marketing from a revenue responsibility perspective, you can work together collaboratively to identify what’s wrong and operationalize a solution.

It’s less about sharing the blame, and more about having an active partner to proactively solve problems, someone who’s now equally aligned with you from a visibility, responsibility and even compensation perspective.

The Aligned Marketing Department Is Incented To Provide Sales Training “For Free”

In a non-aligned world; marketing generates leads and throws them at the sales team. Occasionally, there will be a “heads up” email about the offer, but little else.

In a marketing-aligned world, sales teams get detailed briefings about campaigns, which customers are targeted, what the intent of the inbound leads will look like, as well as response and follow-up tools, scripting and more to support the reps and increase conversion rates.

You might have a sales training organization or effort already, but with better alignment marketing becomes part of that training effort as well.

The Aligned Marketing Department Becomes Part Of Your Sales Operations Team

The aligned marketing organization cares just as much as sales does about helping sales reps be more efficient. Marketing actually recommends and helps to implement tools and processes that improve the day-to-day lives of sales reps. There are a number of areas where marketing tends to become involved:

Process and workflow – Marketing wants to ensure conversion of the leads they pass to sales and help optimize lead delivery so it is seamless to the sales person. They also work with sales to track lead progress in the CRM system in order to optimize the leads they generate.Sales intelligence – Marketing will often assist sales in finding efficient pre-call research tools and processes. As well, marketing will often try to augment as much data as is reasonable to ensure that sales has much information they need to be effective immediately.Sales efficiency and productivity tools – Marketing needs sales to be successful so they often help find and recommend tools to optimize sales such as sales email tools and e-signatures.Lead nurturing – In the old days, sales was solely responsible for tracking and following up with leads and opportunities that went cold. Marketing wants sales working on sales-ready leads and will take the leads and opportunities that fall back out of the pipeline are supported with nurture campaigns until they’re again active.

Initially, marketing and sales alignment seemed to be a conversation that marketing was trying to have with sales and sales was not paying attention. Once sales leaders began to see the benefits of marketing and sales alignment, they became willing partners. Phil Fernandez from Marketo said it best with the following quote: “Establishing a single revenue cycle is the last frontier in productivity.”

[Editor’s Note: This post is an excerpt of our ebook, The Sales Leader’s Guide to Modern Sales Management.]

Image Credit(s):                Victor1558

Written by

Matt Heinz
February 10, 2014