Sales Best Practices

5 Breakdowns In Alignment Between Marketing Automation and Sales Engagement - and How To Fix Them

Lucy Mazalon, Salesforce Certified Consultant, Editor at, and Founder at The DRIP's Avatar

Lucy Mazalon, Salesforce Certified Consultant, Editor at, and Founder at The DRIP

Sales and marketing both function to generate new business for your organization, but they aren’t always on the same page.

CRM platforms and modern, collaborative work cultures have improved data sharing and communication between departments, but marketing and sales alignment still continues to fall short. And the factors at play are often hard to pinpoint.

As a Salesforce and Pardot Consultant, my aim is to optimize how Pardot marketing automation integrates with both the core CRM platform and sales processes. But I also have a background working on a sales development team, so I have first-hand experience with the frustrations that come with misalignment! Here are five of the most common reasons that I’ve seen for the breakdowns between sales and marketing teams, and recommendations for using sales engagement and marketing automation platforms to avoid these pitfalls.

1. No Mutual Understanding of KPIs

Sales activities have always been quantifiable, but over in marketing, however, the lines of measurement can be different. Marketers have a tougher time proving that their campaigns have any influence on the sales pipeline, let alone calculating campaign ROI. Marketing inputs are generally subjective and cannot be quantified, leading to a mentality that unfairly brands marketing as ‘fluffy’ and not concrete.

More often than not, it’s the sales rep calls and meetings, not marketing efforts, that are credited for ‘getting it over the line.’

To overcome the flaws in Campaign Influence reporting, marketing teams can report on data-driven key performance indicators (KPIs) including pipeline velocity, account-based marketing (ABM), lead recycling campaigns, and call abandonment nurture—KPIs that create a common language between sales, marketing, and leadership.

2. No Clear Ownership Over Prospect Segments

Not having a clear-cut understanding of which team ‘owns’ Prospects at different stages of their customer journey is a primary cause of strategy downfall.

Sales doesn’t want marketing emails to overshadow their discussions. Marketing wants to contribute in order to gain a share of ‘influenced pipeline.’

Without defined ownership, teams can face awkward tip-toeing around each other, or a clash of egos. Regardless, the result is disjointed communication and missing perfect opportunities to communicate with prospects.

This can be solved, simply, by creating a matrix. Note down all lead statuses and opportunity stages, plus any other defining attributes (e.g. how active/inactive the prospect is, or their engagement score):


Adding structure to this confusing web of moving prospects will help to put appropriate automated sequences in place, and ultimately avoid crisscrossing and redundant communication.

At Outreach, the marketing and sales teams use their own platform to automate handoff between the two teams, and have full visibility into status and make sure that leads are followed-up on in minutes.

3. The Sales Team Doesn’t Visualize Sequences

When marketing automation is activated, sales-side concerns begin to bubble up (e.g. “Will marketing send out a campaign or message at the wrong time to one of my prospects?”). The concern, whole common, isn’t that marketing doesn’t know what it’s doing, it’s that sales doesn’t understand what marketers do.

Marketers map out their touchpoints. Running campaigns at scale demands a clear understanding of what messaging goes to whom, and when. Marketing automation platforms on the market have adopted this visualization - take the branching workflow interface in Pardot Engagement Studio as one excellent example.

This time, sales can take a page out of marketing’s book by mapping out Sequence touchpoints to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

4. No Unified Brand (Access to Marketing Curated Assets)

Branding falls into marketing’s remit, and sales can, unfortunately, undermine the brand. Picture this: all of marketing uses the same impeccable messaging and cohesive assets (such as eBooks) to run sharp campaigns. In a rush to meet their activity targets, there is a risk that sales reps will write emails ad-hoc, copying emails from older assets or content and then pasting it right into their inbox.

The solution is simple, and should be a higher priority than it is for most companies. Marketing and sales can work together to build a repository of email templates and complementary digital assets. The brains behind the branding will be able to create, curate, and monitor the repository so that only the best-performing, on-brand collateral ever finds its way to your prospects’ inboxes.

5. Marketing Automation Platform Not Integrated with Sales Engagement Platform

Successful collaboration between sales and marketing has integration at the foundation. Integrated systems have been the baseline standard for many years, yet teams that should be reading from the same page end up reading from different books entirely.

CRMs became mutual land that sales development and marketing could operate in. Then, a proliferation of purpose-built tools entered the market, each promising an enhanced prospecting or marketing automation user experience. As I have seen in some organizations, this has returned the wedge between the two teams.

Sales and marketing should use their sales engagement and marketing automation platforms, respectively, to super-charge their productivity, but not at the expense of integration. Don’t neglect your CRM as the ‘hub’ that connects specialized platforms! Integration through the CRM (the central system of record) really should be top of mind, or revenue teams may face frustrating bottlenecks further down the line.


This post has given you a run-down of my top five reasons for misalignment between sales engagement and marketing automation processes. My next post will cover even more common ways that marketing and sales become misaligned, and how to get that back on the same page.

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