Marketing and sales alignment

The importance of marketing and sales alignment

There are still a number of companies of all different sizes with sales and marketing teams working separately. However, both teams are aiming to achieve the same goal of attracting more customers and generating more revenue. So why are they not working together? Surely, if marketing and sales were aligned and working together, it will help both departments to achieve this.

Why are marketing and sales misaligned?

There are a number of reasons why marketing and sales teams could be misaligned in a company. Once you know why your teams are, you can then work to try and fix the problems.

Company culture

The importance of marketing and sales alignment has not always been high on companies’ lists. With the competition not being as high as it is now, the two departments were able to work on their own towards separate goals. Because of this, they then worked in a way they believed was the most efficient and effective within their own departments. However, as competition in the market has increased, companies haven’t changed the way they work and therefore, departments carry on working separately to each other. Having always been isolated from each other, they have little to no knowledge of what either department is doing.

Lack of understanding about goals

In a typical company, the marketing department is responsible for lead generation and the sales department is responsible for converting the leads into customers. However, if the two departments are not aligned, they are making their jobs a lot harder and creating more work for themselves. Within the inbound methodology, it’s no longer just the job of the marketing department to generate leads and the sales team to convert them. Marketers and sales reps should have an active role in all three stages of the methodology – Attract, Engage and Delight. The marketing department needs to create helpful content and experiences to attract leads, however the sales department can support by providing valuable data that the marketing department can analyse to ensure they are creating best, relevant content. This will then help the marketing department to attract better quality leads that the sales department can then convert into customers. 

Different approaches

Another common reason why marketing and sales are not aligned in some companies is due to different approaches in each department. Successful marketers continuously adapt their processes to take advantage of new technologies and trends to try and get ahead of their competitors. However, some sales departments are less keen to try new approaches and prefer to keep with their tried and trusted methods. This is especially the case if sales departments are rewarded for hitting certain targets.

Lack of management emphasis

It’s natural for people to focus on their own tasks and targets. As already mentioned, if there is a company culture in place of departments working independently, it’s unlikely that the marketers and sales reps will take it on themselves. Once the culture changes, it’s down to the management to ensure that the collaboration between the departments happens.

How to align marketing and sales

Marketing and sales alignment isn’t going to happen overnight. If the two departments have worked independently for so long, it’s going to take time and effort from both to create a new way of working.

Listen to the departments

As already mentioned, each department will have their own approach to working and might not be very keen on changing. The first step to align the two is by listening to them and asking for their opinion on the current marketing campaigns and the lead conversion rate. Find out if the sales team are happy with the quality of leads they are receiving from marketing and if the marketing department is happy with the number of leads being converted from the leads they are sending through. This will then provide the perfect opportunity to list the advantages of aligning marketing and sales to solve the problems they have mentioned.

Improve communication between marketing and sales

Communication breakdowns are normally one of the main problems in companies. With the sales department relying on the information the marketing provides and the marketing department relying on customer feedback from the sales department, communication is key. Make it easier for information to be accessed by both departments. One way of doing this is with cloud storage and shared files. Implementing a CRM system like HubSpot will allow both teams to enter and see information around customers’ interactions with the company, including past purchases and social media engagement. Have team-building activities that encourage employees to communicate with each other in different departments and build personal relationships. By getting to know each other on a personal level, they will be more open to communicating with each other in the office.

Discuss goals for both departments

The main goal for both departments is to increase revenue. In order to achieve this, it’s likely that this will not be the only shared goal. It’s also important for the two departments to know how their own goals will not only support their own department, but also the other. This way, marketing and sales will start working together with their own goals in mind, as well as how achieving them will help the other.

Benefits of marketing and sales alignment

50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting whilst 60-70% of B2B content created is never used – mostly because the topic is irrelevant to the target audience. By working together, both sales and marketing teams can save time and increase the probability of leads becoming customers to 67%. The sales department can provide the marketing department with valuable customer feedback which can be used to tailor marketing campaigns and attract better quality leads for the sales teams to convert. Aligning marketing and sales doesn’t just support businesses with attracting new customers. When marketing and sales are aligned, business experience a 36% higher customer retention.

If your company is one of the many that is yet to align marketing and sales, the first step is to focus on the factors that are stopping them from being aligned. Once you know why your marketing and sales are not aligned, you can start working on ways to bring them together. Compare the results and see how they have improved. It’s important to continuously measure so you can improve and adjust when necessary to ensure you continue getting great results.

Written by: Thomas Coughlan
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