Does Sales & Marketing alignment really exist?

I recently received an email from a large software company inviting me to a networking event to discuss the topic of sales and marketing alignment. The invite opened with…

  • Only 8% of B2B companies say they have alignment between sales and marketing

That is a pretty low number in my books. And if the number is so low, the obvious next question is why? Why do companies not create an environment within their business where sales and marketing work together to improve revenue and achieve business goals.

I have worked with hundreds of B2B companies in the technology, professional services and manufacturing sectors. I have been hired by CEOs, business owners, VPs of sales and directors of marketing and the most common reasons I have seen that companies lack sales and marketing alignment are threefold:

  1. Marketing is seen as a cost centre and sales as a revenue centre so they are naturally divided by people’s views of the functions.
  2. Companies often wait a long time before hiring anyone in marketing to support the business so by the time they do, marketing is tacked on to the sales function as an afterthought and therefore not clearly defined with respect to its role in the business.
  3. The information stone wall – as companies grow, they often fail to plan for systems that will track and manage data that both functions can use to improve their results. The sales team may not be disciplined in their use of a CRM or sales process data and the marketing team is not measuring their results against the correct metrics.

How to break the sales and marketing bias’ and create alignment

Resetting the view of the functions

With today’s digital transformation of the sales and marketing function firmly upon us, there has never been a more important time to address sales and marketing alignment. Everyone should know how to market and sell a product or service. The marketing team should have a precise picture of how a buyer buys something and the sales team should know precisely who the target audience is and who they are looking for in the sales process. When these two things are identified clearly in a business, magic happens creating alignment. You can’t build lead generation or lead nurturing programs if you have not documented buyer personas and understand intimately what someone needs to short list your company. You can’t improve sales results if you have not documented your sales process and have a clear description of who you want as customers and why.

Table #1: Ingredients for creating alignment

Marketing needs to…. Sales needs to…
  1. Have a documented value proposition that can be tested that sales agrees resonates with buyers
  2. A documented buyer persona that describes the vision and requirements of the economic buyer and how they short list customers
  3. A content road map that shows where and how prospective buyers will engage with your company and how to measure whether they are sales ready
  4. Track and measure on a 30 day cycle which leads moved to the sales team and what worked and what didn’t with inbound marketing
  1. Document the process they need to follow to qualify a prospect and the steps required to close a sale
  2. Provide a tightly defined description of the ideal prospect profile to the marketing team mapped against the buyer journey
  3. Identify through social channels and online connections where the ideal prospect hangs out and connects with companies
  4. Track and measure on a 30 day cycle which leads from marketing moved through the funnel


The old sales and marketing paradigm…


Sales marketing alignment

The new approach created by digital transformation of the sales and marketing function…


Sales marketing alignment2

The magic ingredients needed today to support the digital transformation of the sales and marketing functions and create alignment to drive long term strategic growth…

  1. Agreement on business goals and objectives – Get our new guide here to understand how to set better marketing goals
  2. The right people to manage the process – if your sales and marketing team cannot deliver on the items in Table #1, get help! Consider recruiting outside support. Marketing and sales are complex functions today and an outside set of eyes and a process to follow will help. Check out the Marketing CoPilot Methodology.
  3. The right systems – If you have not embarked on implementing the right CRM and marketing automation tools for your business you will fall behind quickly. Anecdotal evidence is no longer enough to know whether your sales and marketing functions are performing.
Still wondering? Check out this podcast with Marie Wiese and Rick McCutcheon to listen on the new paradigm in sales and marketing and how to create alignment in your business.
Marketing CoPilot