Who Needs Sales and Marketing Alignment?

Sales and Marketing Alignment

Every marketing cloud and marketing automation vendor out there is touting the importance of sales and marketing alignment… but what does that even mean? I’ve worked in marketing departments for the majority of my career and we always operated separately from the sales team. Of course, we were responsive to the sales team’s needs but, overall, we focused on the brand and getting our message to key audiences. That’s why my gut reaction to all this “alignment” talk is, who needs sales and marketing alignment? What kinds of organizations succeed with these two groups working together?

Can we be truthful for a minute? Has there ever been a marketing team that actually liked the sales team and vice versa? I’m serious. From time to time, I’ve worked with salespeople who just “get it” and we’ve been a great team. But what’s the difference between a director of marketing and a business development manager working together towards a common goal and sales and marketing alignment?

Sorry for all the questions, but I’m figuring this out along with you. Bear with me.

According to a report published by Aberdeen Research, companies that are best-in-class at aligning marketing and sales experienced an average of 20 percent growth in annual revenue, compared to a 4 percent decline in laggard organizations. What’s important to note here is that at many of these companies, the sales and marketing organizations report to one senior executive who’s responsible for both attracting and closing business.

With the same executive overseeing both marketing and sales, these two vastly different groups of folks share processes, technology, and goals. That makes a big difference!

With the same goals and technology in place to reach them, sales and marketing can together define and agree on what makes a qualified lead and when marketing should pass a lead on to sales. Organizations without sales and marketing alignment have different definitions. For example: A marketer may consider a lead who fills out a web form as “identified” and from then on the responsibility of sales. A salesperson may think a lead isn’t ready for them to touch until they have reached a certain engagement level with the marketing team via social media, email marketing, the blog, and company website.

Of course, marketing automation platforms such as Right On Interactive and CRM systems make sales and marketing alignment easier by providing all team members with the same level of insight into who is engaging with the organization and where they are in their relationship with the brand.  In fact, in the same Aberdeen report mentioned above, the research group shared 84% of the best in class organizations empower marketing with access to CRM. Complete visibility is crucial, not just because sales and marketing share the same goals but also to hold each other accountable to reach those goals.

In the past, marketing was not viewed as a key element of revenue generation. That was something completely owned by sales/business development. However, in today’s fast changing business world, marketing is responsible for much more than lead generation and by holding marketers accountable to sales goals (i.e., revenue), organizations can closely align sales and marketing teams – ultimately shortening sales cycles and improving revenue.

Still not sold on sales and marketing alignment? Read this blog post.