Sales & Marketing Alignment – Overcoming the Divide

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A lot has been written about the fracture between the sales and marketing departments and the quest for sales and marketing alignment. Everyone has answers. The American Marketing Association shares Four Best Practices to Ensure Sales/Marketing Alignment. discusses The Why and What of Sales and Marketing Alignment. HubSpot talks about 10 Tried-and-True Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment. I can go on and on throwing stories at you, but I won’t.

What I will do is give you a few observations I’ve made after reading several of these articles:

  1. Marketing delivers garbage leads.
  2. Sales doesn’t know how to work leads.
  3. Marketing doesn’t know much about the sales process.
  4. Sales doesn’t know what it takes to generate leads.

Hmm. Sounds like we are at an impasse.

After years and years of talking about sales and marketing alignment, why do so many of us still get it wrong? I’m of the opinion that most of these issues, at their root, boil down to department-centered vanity and control. Sure, both teams have the ultimate goal of driving more sales. However, each has its own agenda for how to get there.

#Sales and #Marketing: Both teams have the ultimate goal of driving more sales. However, each has its own agenda for how to get there. Click To Tweet

Marketing feels fierce ownership of the brand strategy and voice and wants to craft the recipe for how to increase awareness and leads to fuel sales. Sales feels passionate about the one-to-one conversations with prospects and the real-world issues that can lead to productive dialogues that close deals.

Each department will claim research or first-hand experience as the guide to their approaches. Instead of arguing one as superior to the other, sales and marketing teams need to be in sync to meet revenue goals together.

Marketing Must Make Buyer Persona Creation More Collaborative

Marketers often take a lot of time and effort to create buyer personas. These personas help drive their marketing strategy and lead generation efforts. Unfortunately, not all marketers take the time to brain check these personas with the sales team.

Sure, there may be times when sales feedback may not be as useful — if you’re launching in a new vertical, for example, or rolling out an entirely a new product. Maybe the executive team or product marketing/management team want to attract a different kind of customer. Still, marketers shouldn’t underestimate the value of what sales representatives can bring to the buyer persona creation process.

Sales reps speak to people every day who are interested in your product. Salespeople know who will and won’t buy and the reasons why. They can give you insights into whether or not the marketing strategy is really attracting your target personas.

Ask sales for input to brain and gut check your personas.

Sales Must Speak Up About Their Content Needs

Buyers want to educate themselves before they ever talk to a sales rep, so compelling content is more important than ever. Unfortunately, many sales organizations feel they lack access to strong sales content. But instead of constructively voicing their concerns, they re-create the same sales deck, product sheet, script, or email that the marketing team attempted to put together for them.

Don’t be a martyr who “has to do everything because marketers just don’t get it.” Help your marketing team understand the difference between the content marketing they create to attract people to start a conversation versus the sales content you need to convince people to buy.

Marketing content and sales content should work together to drive more leads and sales. Marketing content helps buyers research pain points and diagnose problems. Sales content should help salespeople convince buyers that your product or service is the best solution.

#Salespeople - Don't be a martyr who 'has to do everything because marketers just don't get it.' Help your marketing team understand the type of content you need. 🤝 Click To Tweet

When It Comes to Leads

Obviously, sales and marketing teams should work together to define lead criteria and processes for closing the loop on lead follow up. With that said, years of rivalry may still cause a little petty back and forth — “Your leads stink!” “No, your followup stinks!”

How do you move past this back-and-forth griping? Here are some ideas worth considering:

Marketing Should Consider Further Qualifying Leads Before Handing Off to Sales

Marketers, if you firmly believe you’ve got some great leads, put on your sales development rep (SDR) hat — or get some SDRs on your team — and start reaching out directly to these leads before handing them over to sales and account executives. Instead of letting your marketing investment turn to dust, put your money where your mouth is and prove the value of your efforts. Get those leads into an SQL state to hand off to the reps who can close the deal.

Sales Should Stop Cherrypicking Leads

Salespeople, if you’ve got a loosey-goosey CRM where you pick out the leads you’re going to call that day, you’re already at a disadvantage. A list-based CRM makes it all too easy for you to spend a ton of time “panning for gold” in that stream of leads instead of just picking up the phone and getting down to business. A list-based solution allows you to make judgment calls based on your “gut.” You think the leads marketers are sending over are garbage because they don’t fit your preconceived notions of what a good lead is. You may be passing up real sales opportunities because of your cherrypicking.

Both Teams Should Embrace the Value of a Sales Engagement Platform

Sales engagement software is often the missing link in the sales and marketing tech chain. Marketing automation only gets a lead so far in the sales process. Once that lead gets dumped into the company’s CRM solution, it often falls off a cliff. A sales engagement platform is the bridge that safely moves a lead from prospect to potential customer by allowing your SDRs to engage with qualified leads at the right time using content that matches a prospect’s progress in the buyer’s journey.

With a sales engagement solution, sales & marketing can ensure that leads get:

Sales & Marketing Can Work Together

The secret sauce in sales & marketing alignment is working together. Instead of reading a bunch of articles about what should be happening, start looking for ways to make collaboration and communication work in your company. With open minds, a little less ego, and the right technology stack, you’ll be amazed at how much more these two teams can accomplish together.


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