3 ways leaders can improve sales and marketing alignment

Posted March 30, 2021

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By Cari Murray

Senior Editor at Outreach

Many of us have been in this situation. You’re driving down the highway and even though you’re headed straight, you feel like the steering wheel is pulling towards one side. Oh no, your car is out of alignment. You think, ‘When did this issue start? Did I hit a curb recently or has the problem developed gradually?’ Likely, your next thought drifts toward the unfortunate cost of the issue.

Sales and marketing misalignment isn’t much different — and it can cost quite a bit more than a blown tire. HubSpot found that it costs companies as much as $1 trillion per year.

Whether it was a gradual shift or point in time hit, it’s not an unfamiliar issue. Sales and marketing teams have been striving for alignment, for some time.

The good news is that there are a few key steps that can help you reach strong alignment. And when you hit the sweet spot, it’s gold. “When sales and marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down and the cost of sales is lower,” according to HBR.

With that in mind, below are three tips on how to hit marketing and sales alignment gold.

Tip #1: Adhere to consistent messaging and coordinated, complementary strategy

a·lign·ment n. a position of agreement or alliance.

This may seem obvious, but it can’t be overstated. Marketing and sales alignment happens when teams have fluid dialogue and agreement around messaging and strategy.

Here’s an all-too-common example of what it looks like when sales and marketing aren’t working from a coordinated, complementary strategy— A B2B company is launching a new product. Marketing has invested time and resources around messaging, assets, and sales tools. The launch happens, yet the sales team continues to focus much of their efforts around a legacy product. Marketing is saying, ‘We need to grow this product. Push this out in the market.’ On the other side, sales is saying, ‘We need to hit our numbers. Plus, we’re better incentivized selling this other product.’

Marketing and sales can’t afford to set their strategies and goals separately from each other. Progressive leadership must keep the dialogue open with conversations focused on common goals, establishing feedback loops, and optimizing a buyer-aligned process.

Tip #2: Make data insights easier to capture, report, and share cross-functionally

Most B2B organizations are swimming in data. Marketing has a wealth of knowledge with website metrics, content downloads, and click-through rates, to name a few. Sales has their own share of metrics like meetings booked, positive replies, conversion rate and more.

So, what’s the issue? It’s difficult to know how to use that data to power both sides. A good place to start is by zeroing in on the right data points. For example, sales can help marketing understand which subject lines generate the most positive replies, which in turn helps them adjust messaging. On the other hand, marketing can help sales teams better understand prospect engagement across a variety of channels.

Tip #3: Take a strategic approach to technology adoption

Technology is a fundamental component to sales and marketing alignment. And these teams often benefit from having a wide array of technology options to do their job.

But oftentimes, that benefit can quickly become a burden. Revenue-generating teams put a patchwork of solutions in place only to find that adoption is low, no one knows how to use them, and there aren’t the right stakeholders in place to get real value from the solutions. Even worse, the data coming out of the systems isn’t connected so leveraging true insights is incredibly difficult.

One way to overcome this is by taking a critical eye to the amount and specific solutions for your business. Then, proactively assemble the right stakeholders and empower them to create a unified adoption model.

Taking Alignment a Step Further

Sales and marketing leaders are in the driver’s seat when it comes to alignment. Knowing when the steering wheel is pulling us off course is crucial to getting back on track and bolstering that alliance between teams.

Taking the rights steps can help everyone thrive, especially in this new sales world. A truly coordinated effort takes bold moves and everyone leaning in to being on the forefront of sales and marketing. Recently, we held a roundtable discussion on the best way to align teams. Sales and marketing leaders at Outreach were joined by Justin Keller, VP of Brand Marketing at Terminus, and Jaime Romero, VP of Marketing at Fortinet.


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