How to Overcome Sales and Marketing Misalignment

Sales and marketing teams are historically misaligned. Understand how this came to be and how to achieve sales and marketing alignment.

Published on 3 May, 2017 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
Sales and Marketing Alignment Can Be Achieved by Understanding Goals 1

Sales and marketing professionals perform distinctly different roles within your corporation. The result is often a complex relationship regarding internal resources and support. While similar factors limit the work of each department (budgets, staff numbers, industry specifics, etc.), they both experience the work of the company in ways that often put them at odds with each other. Savvy management practices can reduce the negative impact that this sales vs. marketing dilemma often generates.

In the end, the goals of each department are the same: growing the customer base and its related revenue. However, the work of each toward those ends is different. Understanding how the two departments work independently often reveals why there is a misalignment.

Reaching Different Goals

The marketing staff structures the voice of the organization to entice potential customers to try them out. This includes the visuals, content, and messaging for products. While strategic and creative, much of marketing investments are towards digital efforts. Marketing teams’ tools include, among other things, advertisements, email campaigns, content marketing, and public relations activities. All these tools are designed to intrigue the potential consumer base into seeking more information.

The sales staff has the end goal of closing the sale. They do so through a range of activities including prospecting followed by a series of emails, calls, and social actions.

In addition to new business development, many sales organizations penetrate already acquired accounts to get other departments or divisions billing. Oftentimes this is done by engaging in onsite meetings, providing product demonstrations and demonstrating value through use cases.

The experience of the work also sets up a divide between the two internal organizations:

  • Marketing generates the “script” for the product, then moves onto the next product.
  • Sales takes the script into the community and uses it to inform the buying public. Sales can be highly challenging. Especially when you consider that it takes an average of eight contacts between the sales representative and the consumer before closing a purchasing transaction.

Speaking Different Languages

Marketing seeks to increase the number of “leads” generated by their efforts. A successful marketing campaign may engage thousands of high-quality leads through marketing automation. Automation streamlines lead acquisition, nurturing, and scoring for high success probability.

Sales looks at “leads” as potential “accounts.” In other words, soon-to-be customers who will also become repeat customers. A successful sales campaign takes marketing results and uses the data to approach consumers, close sales, and increase the existing customer base.

Missing the “Fit”

Sometimes, however, the marketing leads fail to support the subsequent sales activities. If the marketing algorithms don’t take into account the type of business or consumer who would benefit from your products or services, then the best sales person will most likely not be able to close that deal.

Marketing technology that doesn’t also filter for appropriate customer candidates wastes the sales department’s time and energy.

Avoiding Communications Altogether

Sometimes, these two company sectors fail to communicate at all, and sales staff is expected to discern the intent of the marketing staff. The “siloing” of corporate resources happens in many circumstances:

  • Lack of In-Person Communication — The two offices are physically separate from each other, impeding the opportunity for frequent communications.
  • Missing Stakeholders — One department or the other is left out of management collaboration. Not only does this leave one office in the dark about corporate planning, but it also sends the message that one department isn’t as significant as the other.
  • Blindspots — Digital dashboards between the two don’t align. If the marketing staff isn’t always up-to-date on how sales are implementing their strategy, they can’t measure the success of that strategy.

Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams with these Best Practices

Avoiding Sales vs. Marketing Miscommunications

Discovering the dilemma is one step, solving it is another. Management that actively engages in smooth communications practices between the two departments can reduce company stresses while increasing revenues at the same time.

1. Reassemble as a “Revenue Team”

Since both sectors are each ultimately responsible for driving revenues, encouraging them to work together toward that goal can reduce friction between their respective functions.

2. Focus on the Customer, Not the Sale

One way to shift worker attention away from products is to agree on the target markets most likely to engage with them. This practice aligns the efforts of each sector with the goals of the consumer, so both can address consumer interests using their specific tools.

When each department identifies with the potential customer’s priorities, their joint messaging becomes stronger and more compelling, raising the likelihood of potential sales.

3. Agree on a Common Language

Each office can contribute input into unified communications, including creating standard definitions for critical functions (e.g. “marketing qualified lead” or “sales qualified lead”). With the standardized verbiage, each team understands the scope and expectations that it carries, so both teams perform independently toward the common goal established by that term.

4. Utilize Predictive Analytics

Technology streamlines lead scoring capabilities. These analytics programs analyze both your internal metrics (products, sales, prospects, etc.) with external lead data (phone calls, website or mobile device clicks, etc.) to produce predictions about which potential marketing leads may be superior to others. The resulting “highly qualified” lead represents the best avenue for the next sales department activity.

5. Integrate Assets Into a Single Effort

Use the standardized language and analytical insights to generate an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy that incorporates the activities of both the sales and the marketing departments. With a joint ABM plan, each side of the revenue generation team has distinct roles to play that support, incorporate and enhance the work of the other.

Together the teams determine the prospective accounts to target and the efforts to be made toward those ends. The potential customer experiences a unified, harmonious engagement that responds to its needs while also building confidence that your team knows what it’s doing.

Sales and marketing should go together like a hand in a glove. Careful management techniques will assure that alliance and propel your company upward in its industry.

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