Sales and marketing alignment occurs when a company’s sales and marketing teams come together around common goals, strategic approaches, and measures of success. It is a proven approach to increasing revenue; a study from Aberdeen Research showed that companies with the strongest sales and marketing alignment grew their annual revenue by an average of 20 percent. A common strategy these successful companies use is to have both their sales and marketing teams report to the same top executive, ensuring that the teams not only share a manager but also have common goals and procedures, and use common technologies to enhance operations at every point of contact with consumers.
To achieve successful sales and marketing alignment, businesses must ensure lines of clear, consistent, and open communication. Sales team members can offer feedback to marketing personnel about the quality of the leads passed to them on a regular basis; marketing team members may sit in on sales calls for a first-hand account of the common questions or concerns sales people receive from prospects. It’s also important for sales and marketing teams to have key languages in common, such as what constitutes a qualified lead and how buying behaviors should be scored a These questions and issues need to be discussed, agreed upon and documented. Best in class companies go as far as to creating a service level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing covering all aspects from defining a qualified lead, how it will be identified and scored, when a lead will be passed from marketing to sales, how unqualified leads will be nurtured (how often and what content) as well as what happens to a lead first deemed qualified and later become unqualified.A solid SLA helps keep both teams working together harmoniously.
Companies must hold their sales and marketing teams accountable for a continued alignment once common procedures and language are in place. This process takes time and a commitment between sales and marketing departments in order to refine. Rarely will a lead management process be created without any further need for refinement. Sales and marketing alignment is a journey, not a destination constantly changing with the economic conditions and growth of the company.
There are many marketing technologies on the market designed to help facilitate sales and marketing alignment. One of the most popular technologies is referred to as marketing automation platforms (MAP). Also popular are account based marketing solutions where both sales and marketing focus on ideal accounts vs ideal prospects which require a slightly different strategy and process with a different set of metrics to track results.