Sales and Marketing Alignment Defined

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Shelby Catalano
By Shelby Catalano

May 12, 2022

Inbound marketers have been saying it for years – When marketing and sales work together in synchronicity, the results are far more lucrative than when the two departments have separate agendas. As FDR once said, “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” Things are changing in this realm, for the better, and I’m going to elaborate on why.

In this article, we’ll define what sales and marketing alignment is and discuss how you can close the loop and integrate these teams into a unified whole, so you, too, can look toward tomorrow more clearly.

What is sales and marketing alignment?

Sales and marketing alignment, also known as “smarketing”, is the process of creating a shared system of communication, goals, and strategies that close the loop between sales and marketing functions. The ultimate goal is to create transparency and allow information to flow freely between the two departments so they can better support one another.

Traditionally, sales and marketing teams have operated independently from one another. They often occupy separate offices, have separate goals, use separate CRM systems, and generally don’t communicate with each other at all. 

Businesses that practice sales and marketing alignment strive to break down these barriers and create a free exchange of information between the two departments.

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How do marketing and sales work together?

As buying habits change and more consumers prefer to self-educate, the role of sales and marketing needs to evolve, as well. Buyers spend more time doing their own research and will often be pretty well informed by the time they speak with a sales person. 

Businesses need to rethink the traditional sales and marketing funnel. The role of marketing has shifted from creating awareness to also include educating leads, nurturing leads, and even qualifying leads before handing off to the sales team.

Marketing teams can help sales by:

  • Creating and distributing educational content
  • Building lead nurturing systems to rekindle interest
  • Weeding out unqualified leads early in the marketing funnel
  • Using behavioral insights to identify high-quality leads that are ready to be handed off

Sales teams are now less focused on educating and nurturing, and have now become customer advocates. Their role is to build relationships and establish trust with potential customers by demonstrating empathy and understanding. 

Sales teams can help marketing by:

  • Gaining and providing insights into how customers are using the product
  • Assisting with content creation
  • Refining buyer personas
  • Providing feedback and lead quality to optimize marketing strategies

When sales and marketing teams work together, they can produce better leads, increase customer satisfaction, and ultimately become more efficient in how they spend their time and budgets. 

What are the benefits of sales and marketing alignment?

  • True alignment has the potential to boost the rate of closing deals by 67% (Marketo)
  • It can help generate 209% more revenue from marketing (Marketo)
  • Only 8% of companies have strong alignment between these teams (Forrester)
  • An effective partnership between sales and marketing is the number 1 success factor attributed to achieving revenue goals (Heinz Marketing – Performance Management Report)
  • A large majority (94%) of surveyed top-performing salespeople by LinkedIn called the marketing leads they receive either “excellent” or “good” (LinkedIn)

Common Challenges Businesses Face

Goals and functions are often separate between departments. For many b2b companies, a natural disconnect exists since the two teams are tasked with differing (and most of the time conflicting) objectives. When goals aren’t reached, or sales says leads aren’t qualified, overall revenue growth is impacted, and the blame game continues on. Recalibrating goals to a “when one wins, we all win” mentality helps immensely to focus sales and marketing to chase the same goal of growing revenue. Which is, at its core, what it’s always been, but many businesses have lost sight of that. 

The “we’ve always done it this way” mindset. There are always subject matter experts in their field who have a long-standing success with their methods, which makes them slow to want to change or alter that approach. This makes introducing new technology such as automation challenging and allows antiquated tools to slow down business growth. Technology is not meant to replace people, but to streamline and improve existing processes – this has been a common disconnect seen between teams in the past as well.

Lacking a single source of truth. Using two separate systems doesn’t help with closing the loop. You’ll lack the ability to track the entire customer lifecycle between marketing and sales in separate systems. With a single customer relationship management (CRM) software simplifies sharing between departments to gain insights on the handoff and what could be done better in the future. 

How To Get Your Teams Working Together

When sales and marketing are rewarded for playing on the same team, they’ll be much more incentivized to work together. This opens the door for increased transparency, efficiency, and ultimately more scalability. 

Sales and marketing alignment has ample benefit to businesses of all industries and sizes. The value of optimizing business processes boosts revenue for years to come and is something that continuously improves and grows with your team.

For more information on how to grow effectively using our Marketing Growth Stack, download this free guide today!

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