on December 14, 2021 (last modified on December 22, 2021) • 21 minute read
What if sales and marketing were so aligned that the marketing team was drowning the sales team in qualified leads each month?
Or, put another way, the marketing team was orchestrating a DDoS attack on the sales team.
Unfortunately, more often than not, the opposite happens. Marketing and sales aren’t on the same page and the result is stalled growth and missed opportunities.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
In this post, we’re going to share how sales and marketing can work together to skyrocket sales.
When sales and marketing are in lockstep, everything gets a little easier.
However, sales and marketing alignment isn’t something you can focus on for one sprint and it works magically forever.
You actually need to invest time into your systems and processes (once they are built out!) to make sure you stay in sync. This is particularly important anytime you add new hires to the mix—be it a new SDR, account executive, marketing coordinator, etc.
The absolute biggest sign that your marketing and sales teams aren’t aligned is that you are dropping the ball on potential sales opportunities. That’s according to the 62 respondents who we reached out to.
Of the 62 people we surveyed, all of them say they work in companies where sales and marketing are aligned.
More than 60% of these respondents work for either marketing agencies or professional service businesses.
While dropping the ball on potential deals was the biggest sign that sales and marketing aren’t working well together, here are some additional red flags that it is time to fix some things, like: :
Sales happen every day, and if you have an active sales team, they’re busy setting up appointments, making calls, creating and nurturing deals, and closing them to generate new revenue. It’s your job to monitor their performance and work with your team to improve it. To do that, you need up-to-the-minute information at your fingertips, including:
Now you can benefit from the experience of our sales experts, who have put together a great Databox template showing all the most important KPIs for your sales team’s performance. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in sales reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up this Sales Manager KPIs Dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your HubSpot account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
Misalignment between sales and marketing shouldn’t be the norm. In fact, here are a bunch of tips to get both departments working together.
In many organizations, the sales team has a representative of being the “popular jocks” and the marketing team are the “nerds that the jocks bullied.” However, we are not in high school anymore. If both departments want to get the best results possible, they need to unify and form one team.
“Sales and marketing are the two most important aspects of a business,” says Steve Anevski of Upshift.work. “They are also two departments that seem less likely to co-exist, given how closely their tasks depend on each other.
If motivated to work together, both sales and marketing can be the yin and yang of each other, producing amazing results.
Our company faced the same predicament last year, and we decided to make sure that both our sales and marketing departments aligned. We arranged small events as practice setups and had both departments collaborate daily.
While at first, it sprouted arguments and disagreements, eventually everyone involved became a two-player, and seeing these two departments working together in such cohesion has been a delight to watch. Last month, our marketing team reached out and secured a multimillion campaign thanks to the expert analytics of the sales team.”
Sanju Ganglani of gang&lani media agrees, “Aligning Sales and Marketing allowed us to create a noncompetitive environment and promoted a culture of working together vs against each other as most times Sales and Marketing tend to do. Now marketing provides Sales the strongest materials so they see success, and Sales provides feedback to Marketing by identifying new opportunities in the marketplace to speak about in an effort for Sales to see higher close rates.”
Tearing down any silos will take time and the methods you use will depend on your company. One method that has worked well for many companies is adopting agile methodology and weekly (or) daily stand-ups.
For example, Jake Peteson of Atiba says, “Our sales and marketing team regularly communicate, having weekly standups to coordinate our efforts.
Despite our company being around for almost 30 years, we’ve only had a dedicated sales and marketing team for about 18 months.
Our biggest success story comes from when our sales team alerted us to a number of questions we were getting from prospective clients. These questions were centered around some services that we offer but don’t talk about on our website. We ended up combining those questions that our sales staff heard so often with some of the most common questions on the web around the same topic. We were able to build out new service pages and one-offs that were used as printable brochures we could send to clients. It helped us better understand what our clients were looking for and we could make content reflecting on what they wanted.”
Evan Morris of Corvus Janitorial Systems adds, “Aligning our sales and marketing departments has had a huge (positive) impact on not only our
bottom line, but also on our corporate team’s overall capacity. When there is open, ongoing collaboration between sales and marketing, we are able to be incredibly agile and adaptable to the needs of our customers and franchisees. Input from our sales team on recent trends, customer pain points, and areas of need heavily influence our marketing team’s short-term initiatives and campaigns, and in turn, guide our medium and long-term strategy.
Departmental alignment has focussed our marketing strategy from a “spray and pray” approach – one that was fairly detached from ROI – to a very targeted approach that carefully evaluates ROI as a driver of where to focus our marketing initiatives and capacity to generate revenue for our sales team. Alignment of sales and marketing is a long-term focus for us that we are continuing to improve, and early results are very encouraging – the marketing team’s contribution to revenue has increased two-fold since the initiative began.”
A radical approach is to run a holacratic organization.
“Sales and Marketing have never operated in silos inside Convert,” says Trina Moitra of Convert.com. “We run on a Holacratic platform and as such, each team member is like a sensor for the entire organization and can offer inputs and suggestions about all aspects of the business. This leads to work transparency and openness.
Members in the “sales” circle have shared enablement resource requirements with the content unit that sits in marketing and have helped refine social and distribution strategies with answers to questions like, “Where do our best customers hear about us first?” and “Which jobs to be done are best served by our application?”
In return, marketing has kept sales abreast of changing trends and buying patterns. This cooperation has improved lead quality over time and made everyone within Convert more aware of how purchase cycles have evolved especially post-pandemic.”
Another method that can work well for tearing down silos, especially in large organizations, is to create a cross-functional sales development team to be a bridge between both departments.
“We’ve struggled historically with sales and marketing alignment,” says Jarrod Wright of Chargebacks911. “I used to speak about the inevitability of misalignment between the “nerds” in Marketing and “cool kids” in Sales. The thing that helped to redefine the relationship between our departments was the creation of a Sales Development team that was managed within Marketing, but ultimately reports to Sales.
We hired a small team of nerdy sales associates (or cool marketers) to act as a bridge between our departments. We looked for people who thought about things like process, reporting, and scalability, but who had the social chops to be successful on the phone.
The SDR team operates, on a day-to-day basis, as an extension of marketing. They are focused, much like the rest of the team, on driving leads and creating opportunities for Sales. This has alleviated much of the friction between our departments. It has allowed for increased cooperation and has had a measurable impact on our bottom line revenue.”
Having the work you do to break apart any silos will be for nothing if one or both teams don’t feel supported.
“Sales and marketing might be two different departments, but only by working together in sync can both of them perform at their maximum potential,” says Angela Blakenship of Best Neighborhood. “Alignment between these two business processes has a lot of benefits. It shortens the sales cycle length, grows revenue, and improves the conversion rate. But bringing these two departments together efficiently is easier said than done.
At our company, we have also brought synergy between sales and marketing but it took a lot of effort. We created a marketing to sales circle instead of a funnel.
Marketing campaigns helped generate leads, and marketers and sales reps would qualify and score them together.
Sales would then pursue these leads and provide feedback to marketing, who would then adjust the process accordingly. There were a lot of hiccups along the way, but the result has been very beneficial.”
Dave Ericksen of Waterzen adds, “The coordination between sales and marketing teams is vital for any business to succeed. The two groups need to have appropriate means of communication and data sharing, which they can use to benefit each other’s jobs. They can also play an essential role in streamlining the processes for each other by analyzing data like demographics of existing leads, success rate based on geographic locations, etc.
We faced many challenges because the two teams always struggled to share the appropriate information.
As a result, the company struggled because the lead generation process was not very efficient. We decided to let marketing professionals monitor all sales calls for a month. This helped better understand sales needs, and they were able to give them the information they needed. It eventually became routine as the marketing team would ask for call recording to make smarter decisions.”
Related: 11 Expert Tips for Driving More Sales Qualified Leads
In order for marketing to bring in tons of high-quality leads that sales can actually close, both teams need to be in lockstep around who your ideal customers actually are.
For example, Andre Oentoro of Milkwhale says, “It has definitely improved our leads because we understand our target markets a bit better. When we aligned our sales and marketing teams, it gave us the opportunity to learn about who our audience is and who we should be creating content for. Doing so helped us reach the correct target market, resulting in better leads.”
This process will evolve over time as your product and the market you are undergoing change. So, you can’t spend 6 months creating detailed buyer personas and then not revisit them again for 5 years.
Your brand positioning as well as your messaging needs to resonate with your ideal customers too.
“Aligning our sales & marketing in Q3 2020 helped us tighten and focus our message and value proposition – which led to our climb out of the COVID downturn; a 4X increase in sales; a return to profitability; and a 3X increase in employees,” says John Dubay of Leads at Scale. “It has allowed us to grow more consistently, which in turn has allowed us to continue to offer professional employment opportunities to the blind and low vision community.”
Related: 15 Expert Tips for Driving More Marketing Qualified Leads
Another key is to make sure the handoff between marketing and sales is smooth.
“We significantly improved closing sales because when our marketing and sales teams collaborated,” says Melanie Musson of AutoInsuranceReviews.com. “They started working on dimensions of the same strategy. Previously, they each had their own strategy. While both goals were good, a single goal with different facets is better.”
James Diel of Textel adds, “Aligning marketing and sales helps you educate your targets and nurture your leads at precisely the right time, which helps maximize your sales. Working in the B2B realm, sales and marketing alignment is even more critical, as qualifying leads and educating buyers are two big parts of our selling process. When we started holding weekly marketing/sales check-in meetings, we saw our revenue rise over 10% and started qualifying far more good-quality leads.”
In fact, Marc Bromhall of Trailer Hire Hub saw similar results.
“We increased our bottom line by 12%,” says Bromhall. “Once our marketing properly with our sales, two things started to happen. Firstly, our sales team was able to deliver better presentations with an improved sales deck. Secondly, our sales started getting a greater inflow of leads.”
Your lead nurturing handoff is far from the only process that you should optimize.
“Consistency and collaboration,” says Jordania Schulze of Divining Point. “In sales, results come into fruition almost immediately after taking action. Whether you’re demoing software to a prospect, illustrating previous success stories, or sending over a contract, these short-term activities provide answers for your next move before you’ve even ended the call.
On the contrary, longevity plays a key role when it comes to PR and marketing. For example, a piece of content floating around the internet may take days, weeks, or even months until you see its true impact.
While these counterparts might seem independent, truth is, most successful businesses use a cohesive sales and marketing strategy; in short, each one works better when they work together.
I recently saw this theory come to light during the pandemic. In 2020, I spent a lot more time and effort on creating informational social media videos. I spoke on timely issues so many people were experiencing as first-time remote workers: Hacks to Stay Focused, Maintaining a Healthy Work/Life Balance, Self-Discipline at Your Desk, etc.
Our consistency caught the attention of an audience we may have never crossed before and ultimately, these snackable videos became reliable content pieces for sales enablement!”
One place that it pays to be collaborative is in sales enablement content creation.
“As a marketer, you can help combat some of the sales’ most challenging repeat issues through content creation,” says Alysha Schultz of Intuitive Digital. “We continually meet with the sales team to find out what questions they’re answering time after time and create a blog, website, or infographic content to answer those questions. Then they can use that content in their sales process to foster leads or cut down on lengthy sales calls. It also ensures consistent messaging throughout the process and clear expectation setting, which quickly establishes trust between you and a potential client.”
AJ Alonzo of demandDrive adds, “Aligning sales and marketing has changed the way we create and share content. Previously, when our teams acted independently, sales wasn’t getting access to marketing data, brand kits, or the necessary resources to make polished content on their own. Marketing wasn’t getting access to the anecdotal information from sales to give our content the relevance it needed. And all that meant sales collateral suffered, and our web content was generic.
Aligning the teams and working with one another allowed for the transfer of information and resources from one team to the other.
That knowledge transfer gave marketing an opportunity to leverage “voice of the customer” data from sales, and it gave sales an added layer of credibility to the content they produced. Co-creating content forces us to consider the other half’s POV and what they consider successful. And when both parties are committed to making each other successful, you get stronger content. And stronger content means more inbound leads, better buying experiences, and (overall) a healthier sales funnel.”
Natalie Slyman of BenchmarkONE agrees, “It’s the marketing team’s job to enable sales, and when they are already aware of what the sales team’s daily struggles are and what prospects’ biggest hurdles and questions are, they’re better equipped to create content that addresses those hurdles. And by keeping sales in the loop on what content is being created just for them, sales can then use that content strategically to educate, nurture, and convert leads to customers.
At BenchmarkONE, our sales team uses the content our marketing team creates to build trust with prospects, educate them on areas within marketing automation that may be unclear, and ultimately stay top of mind so that when our leads know we’re here when they need us.”
While you might have to start slow in the beginning, you can streamline and produce more helpful sales enablement content much faster down the line.
For example, Shaye Smith of LeadG2 by The Center for Sales Strategy says, “Inclusion of sales team early in marketing planning helped to build beneficial sales sequences for the sales team to plan around them.
And, discussion with sales/marketing teams at creation phase helped marketing assets be more aligned to the buyer journey because of in-depth knowledge of the target persona.”
Some companies may benefit from implementing an Account-Based-Marketing strategy.
“A recent 7-figure deal was inked due to marketing and sales alignment within our business,” says Anthony Mastri of Park Place Technologies. “Account-based marketing is a big focus for our team, and the marketing and sales teams connected to build a relationship with a target account, nurture those human connections through regular conversation, and then being top of mind once the business need was there.
ABM has been a great way for our sales and marketing teams to stay aligned. We literally have to feed sales pipeline data into our ABM systems so that marketing can optimize our workflow to best support sales. This ABM accountability is helping drive marketing/sales alignment and business growth, and because we can feel the growth as a result, buy-in from both teams becomes natural.”
Not to mention, when marketing and sales are aligned and bringing in ideal fit customers, that usually trickles down to higher customer satisfaction and retention rates.
In fact, Minesh Patel of The Patel Firm says, “When we started aligning our marketing and sales strategy, we started to see a higher rate of customer satisfaction. In our business, we rely so heavily on word-of-mouth that the difference was pretty big – we saw our referrals jump almost instantly. When these two departments collaborate freely, their integrated systems make sharing customer data simple. The feedback from customer sales data helps marketing determine how customers best like to be contacted and what they’re looking for from our services, so they can design campaigns that are aligned with customer wants.”
Related: 26 Effective Ways for Improving Your Customer Retention Rate
Finally, it is essential to have at least one shared KPI for sales and marketing. This further incentives both teams to work together.
For example, Kristen McGarr of Infinite Insights says, “While spending a lot of money on marketing, we weren’t seeing an ROI that could justify that expense. We were planning to cancel the marketing, but then took a closer look at sales.
We realized that sales was not communicating back to marketing the feedback coming in from the leads (the leads coming in were not aligned exactly with the services we were offering so most were determined to be unqualified and tossed out). Without this feedback, marketing didn’t know a change was needed.
Because so many were of poor quality, sales didn’t follow-up with most marketing leads more than 1-2 times instead of the company policy of 6 times. Sales was blaming marketing for poor quality leads and marketing was blaming sales for lack of follow-up.
Once we shared info with marketing that the leads were not aligned with our services, they made the change. The quality of the leads improved, and sales made a commitment to follow-up 6 times with all leads, to give them the benefit of the doubt. Most marketing leads responded on the 3rd or 4th contact attempt (vs 1st or 2nd from sales leads), so implementing this consistently was vital to our growth. Communication between the two departments occurs on a regular basis now for quality control, and the blame game has ceased!”
Mariano Hokama of Global Commerce Online adds, “In many customers we have at the agency, we find Marketing and Sales working in silos. Marketing focusing on branding and developing “great” creatives and Sales demanding for better quality leads and marketing support.
We have integrated both ends with Databox (campaigns from multiple platforms and sales KPI to have a full-funnel view and have a real CPA, improve segmentation and better conversion rate. Apart from that, this has also generated a better relation between sales and marketing teams.”
Once sales and marketing are aligned and have a shared KPI(s), the best way to further incentivize both teams is through highly visible reporting, like a shared dashboard.
You can build a company dashboard with your north star shared KPIs as well as the most important marketing and sales metrics. This is something that everyone in sales and marketing should have access to and should view at least weekly.
Ready to get started building your perfectly aligned sales-marketing dashboard in Databox? Sign up for a free trial here.
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