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How to align marketing and sales

Posted by Adriane Simon on Feb 25, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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How to align Marketing and Sales

The battle between Sales and Marketing isn’t anything new: Sales complains of low volume or low quality leads, while Marketing counters that Sales isn’t working the leads they are generating hard enough. But with inbound marketing and more technology in play, this age-old struggle is easier than ever to resolve. If your company’s marketing and sales teams are on two different islands, it’s time to build a bridge and create Marketing and Sales alignment.

Communication is key

If Sales and Marketing are not openly communicating, then neither can anticipate what the other needs to do their jobs better – thus originates the conflict (sounds a lot like a marriage, doesn’t it?). Often, the marketing team is unaware of poor lead quality, frustrating both sides when deals are not closing.  The easiest way to fight this issue is to require the sales team to provide feedback on leads quality each week/month/quarter.

By knowing what leads to target, Marketing can refine their efforts to capture the types of leads that are most likely to close, based on direct feedback from Sales. The sales team should provide contrasts of high quality leads versus low quality leads delivered by Marketing; this will help marketers better understand why some leads are better than others, and work on advancements that will increase revenue.

Instead of being pitted against each other, Sales and Marketing need to recognize they are on the same team working toward the same goals. Meeting and communicating regularly to discuss strategy and provide input is the surest solution for how to align Marketing and Sales.

Stake your claims based on data

Once you get the line of communication open, there are sure to be bumps in the road to success. Frustrations will be aired and criticisms will be made – however, the only way to be constructive is to back up claims with actual data, not feelings. Start with the following two metrics, which can hold both teams accountable for achievement.

  • Flow of leads: quality leads and lead volume must work in tandem – Marketing should work to increase both criteria every month in order for business to succeed.
  • Close rates vs. percentage of leads worked: you might be surprised how few companies actually measure this, but it can make a huge difference in productivity among the sales team.

As long as Marketing increases lead flow, and Sales maintains a high percentage of leads worked, close rates should increase month over month. Everyone is happy! However, if there is a dip in revenue, each team can be accountable for their efforts based on hard data instead of opinion.

Create a Service Level Agreement

To take Sales and Marketing alignment a step even further, create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the two teams. SLAs are typically a points system that creates solid expectations for each party. Here’s what a Sales and Marketing SLA could look like: Marketing assigns a point value for leads they bring to Sales (higher quality lead = higher point value), and they are held accountable for meeting a certain number every month. Sales is then responsible for working a certain number of those leads, and progress can be tracked throughout the month. By setting clear expectations through an SLA, neither team can criticize the other as long as goals are being met or exceeded.

Show the big picture by integrating software

If you’ve learned anything about how to align marketing and sales, it should be that data is one of the most important components to success. In business, it is safe to hold to the belief that nothing is really true without data to back it up. Having data readily available for both Sales and Marketing creates an environment of accountability and transparency. If Sales and Marketing are using two separate software platforms, integrating the systems will show the big picture of a lead – from their first website visit to converting to paying customer.

If Marketing knows the behavior of an online prospect, that’s great – but it doesn’t help the sales team make warm calls if they’re not in the loop. And vice versa: if Sales follows up with certain types leads, but Marketing doesn’t see the entire sales funnel, they cannot make adjustments to maximize resources for those leads. Integration allows both teams to see the full lifecycle of a lead.

If your company has strongly aligned sales and marketing teams, your success in closing deals and increasing revenue will be unstoppable. Open communication, arguments backed by data, and clear expectations are essential to the equation. Are you gathering the data necessary to achieve success in the Aspen marketing climate?


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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing