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Why Every Business Needs to Align Their Sales and Marketing Teams

inbound marketing
Why Every Business Needs to Align Their Sales and Marketing Teams

We’ve all heard the philosophical question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” As it relates to modern business, the question very easily could be, “Which came first, the sales team or the marketing team?” While I won’t open that can of worms any further, it’s important to remember how both departments are crucial to the success and growth of any organization.

Let’s start with a simple question: What do sales and marketing teams actually do?

Usually, sales is tasked with identifying and contacting prospective clients, delivering a tailored presentation of services and closing a client. After closing, sales continues to manage their relationship with the client while assisting with any future business needs that may arise. On the flip side, marketing’s job has traditionally been to create promotional and advertising materials, as well as analyze consumer data, competitors and market trends.

Looked at this way, it seems as though we’re actually staring at two sides of the same coin. So why then do so many companies separate these two lines of business so severely?

Sales and marketing aren’t just on same team, they essentially are the same team with the same end goal of increasing revenue.

Working from this concept, the inbound methodology combines sales and marketing to create “smarketing.” A term invented by sales leader Dan Tyre, smarketing is the process of aligning sales and marketing around common goals ultimately tied to organizational revenue.

Research backs up this strategy. When sales and marketing are aligned, companies become 67% better at closing deals.

How to Increase Sales and Marketing Alignment

While uniting previously fractured sales and marketing departments around a common cause may be enough incentive on its own, the smarketing approach can lead to other benefits in the form of cohesive and collaborative initiatives, instead of the sadly more familiar redundant or discombobulated ones.

Sounds great, though as you’re no doubt asking yourself, how does one actually go about getting these two teams aligned?

Here are two things you must to do to begin aligning your sales and marketing teams:

1. Develop a Common Language:

Alignment starts with language – and everyone needs to be speaking the same one. It’s nearly impossible to align strategies when two groups are using entirely different vocabularies. Take, for example, how each group defines a lead. To a marketer, a lead is someone who has filled out a form to download a report, ebook or other piece of gated information, and indicated that they’re interested in learning more from the company. On the other hand, salespeople, who need to to hit their monthly sales number, define a lead as someone who is ready to make a purchase.

In our example, this misalignment of what constitutes a “lead” contributes to the marketing/sales dysfunction. Gleanster Research found that 25% of marketing generated leads aren’t actual opportunities and up to 50% represent possible future opportunities. This leads to a sales team frustrated by all the leads sent their way that aren’t ready to make a purchase. It’s no surprise then, according to The B2B Lead, that sales ignores 50% of leads that they’re given by marketing. This then causes further resentment because marketing feels like their lead generation efforts are wasted.

To help sales and marketing work together successfully, a smarketing approach focuses on first defining what success means to the entire team, then building a common nomenclature around it. In this case, that would mean defining what what constitutes a “lead.”

2. Set-up Closed-loop Reporting:

Closed-loop reporting between teams is another necessity for smarketing alignment. When sales closes the loops and reports back to marketing about the status of their leads, marketing is able to fine-tune their effort to create more “sales ready leads.”

For example, when marketers discover that leads are more likely to make a purchase when they come from a specific source, they’re able to realign lead generation efforts toward the strongest source of leads. As they get insight into the commonalities of the weakest sales leads, they’re also able to weed out leads who will never buy.

Creating these open channels of dialogue for sales to report back to an open-eared marketing department helps sales and marketing teams work together more effectively. When both teams rely on the same set of data, they’re able to identify barriers that are keeping them both from reaching their goals. Equal metrics also help curb destructive behavior, such as finger-pointing when numbers or goals aren’t hit.

Smarketing isn’t just Sales plus Marketing. It’s Smart Sales plus Smart Marketing.

It’s important to keep in mind that smarketing isn’t just a theoretical concept—the facts back up that return on investment is higher when sales and marketing activity is centered around common initiatives and practices. The Aberdeen Group found that when sales and marketing are aligned, companies achieve a 20% annual growth rate. On the other hand, companies lacking sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.

The numbers from Bulldog Solutions are even more convincing. Companies that reach best practices in sales and marketing alignment stand to close 500% more deals than their competitors. Looked at it from that perspective, it's critical to create alignment between marketing and sales. Otherwise you're just leaving money on the table.

To learn how we can help your team achieve alignment between sales and marketing, schedule a consultation with our expert team.