5 specific ways to guarantee alignment between Marketing and Sales

Picture1“Sales is calling all the shots.”

Does this sound familiar? In the collaborative dynamic between sales and marketing, there should be a balance of power, but sometimes this balance gets a bit off-kilter. No company is perfect, but if this is an ongoing symptom of your M&S team, it’s time to take a closer look at restoring the harmony here.

All the data support the importance of balance between “Team M” and “Team S”. Engaging buyers at the right time is critical to an organization’s success, and it is the client-facing team members’ responsibility to successfully perform this function. To do so, they need insights that can only be derived from aligned teams. Marketing must provide quality sales leads, engaging content, and relevant materials and tools, and must provide sales with the story line necessary to engage with buyers and positively influence their purchase decisions.

According to a report from Gleason, 69% of top-performing companies cite “cooperation between marketing and sales as the most critical value driver for maximizing ROI. More importantly, M&S teams that are rated as ‘highly aligned’ achieve a 32% year-over-year growth rate, versus a seven percent decrease in revenue when compared to competitors (Aberdeen Group, “Sales & Marketing Alignment”).

This is compelling incentive to get on the same page, and to do so quickly!

A unified organization is cohesive between marketing and sales. In such an organization, trust, collaboration, and mutual goals will foster productive forward momentum. Without it, you will lose output from both sides.

Here, we’ve outlined five specific ways to set your Marketing and Sales up for success:

  1. M&S should align to a single plan that they create together. This ensures that they will take the time to understand each others’ goals, processes and challenges, and better equip them to generate and follow up on company leads.
  1. Sales and marketing should agree to Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that define the number and quality of marketing leads that the home office team should deliver, and the deadline for a sales follow-up. This will avoid a “quality over quantity” sales lead situation, and will avoid wasted leads.
  1. Define scoring criteria for lead score This will ensure that only qualified leads are passed to sales and will help determine which leads should be nurtured. Scoring should be re-visited regularly to account for updated approaches or customer strategies.
  2. Be sure to define the terminology used (e.g., “lead” vs. “prospect”, “marketing qualified lead” MQL vs. “sales qualified lead” SQL) so everyone is on the same page and using the same lingo. This could avoid costly miscommunications within your process.
  3. Marketing should agree with sales on timeframes for the effective follow-up of leads to maximize the chances of success. This can be accomplished through a lead tracker or lead website. Regularly measure results and tweak your program as necessary to ensure repeatable wins. The end result will yield better quality leads that sales will be happy to follow up with.

Aligning sales and marketing ensures that all are working towards the same outcomes efficiently and effectively, as one team. Ultimately, a shared understanding between marketing and sales is rooted in a shared strategy, and is based on the unified goal of engaging and converting leads successfully.

Once these teams are moving in the same direction, marketing will be better able to generate leads and the content needed to meet buyers’ information requirements. Likewise, sales is better able to foster a personal relationship and meet prospects’ needs. Not to get too ‘kumbaya’, but isn’t that what we are all working toward?

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