8 Steps to Aligning Sales and Marketing

Does your company have tight alignment between sales and marketing?

Most of us would agree that neither sales or marketing can afford to be a separate entity. In fact, according to a 2010 report by Aberdeen Research, companies that are best-in-class at aligning marketing and sales, experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue, compared to a 4% decline in “laggard” organisations.

In addition at many of these companies, both the sales and marketing departments report to one senior executive who’s responsible for both lead generation and closing business.

So what does that mean I hear you ask?

It means that sales and marketing share goals, they share technologies and they also share processes that in turn allow them to monitor and optimise each stage of every sale, from first touch to closed deal.

True marketing and sales alignment requires a fundamental shift. We know that aligning marketing and sales can be challenging. That’s why we’ve crafted a post specifically designed around solutions to help organisations achieve true marketing and sales alignment. Read on to learn more.

Our 8 steps to aligning sales and marketing teams are:

1. Identify a starting point

Both departments need to mutually agree that change is required; this will enable an important bridge to be built between the two teams facilitating better communication and cooperation, it will also go a long way to resolving entrenched conflict.

2. Adopt the correct goal – which is integrated

So.. the marketing strategy should ‘pre-emp’ the sales focus. Realigning both teams toward the same revenue goal is a good initial step but the strategy for getting there needs to be defined together. Sales and marketing need to come to the table together and clarify the following: lead scoring, lead generation metrics and SLA’s (read on for further detail). Breaking down these common communication barriers will pave the way for both teams to work together as one team.

3. Create a shared pipeline

In most organisations pipeline are treated as separate processes; there is little visibility into how each side gets things done. With the creation of a single pipeline, both the sales and marketing team will understand how each stage in the process works as well as why each is important to the business.

darts4. Define the ‘Sales Ready’ lead

The process of handing off a lead from marketing to sales is critical to both sides. It’s the point where the marketing team proves its value and where the sales team gets the raw material for closed deals.

I hear you ask “How?”. 

For example by using lead scoring techniques you can define which leads need prioritising for follow-up, or those that should still be nurtured by marketing (marketing automation technology like Marketo or Pardot are very good at this!)

5. Create a clear process for handling off leads

Establish a process for handing off leads to sales and also for sales to establish a closed-loop reporting relationship with marketing. This could be done by using an integrated sales and marketing CRM system like Salesforce and Pardot.

6. Agree on common metrics and definitions

Ensure each team is speaking the same language; set agreed-upon performance metrics.

7. Establish SLAs

The Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an important way to define the relationship between your sales and marketing teams and to hold both sides accountable for their commitments. Targets needs to be set; separate SLAS for your sales and marketing teams can be created, with each team making commitments to agreed-upon ‘quarterly’ goals.

8. Follow up, review and refine your efforts

Alignment is a lifetime process for an organisation. Ensure you follow-up on initiatives, track progress, create accountability and encourage continuous improvement. With shared performance metrics and SLAs, your sales and marketing teams will have sufficient feedback on their efforts. This in turn will help build motivation to improve on their performance.

Even after marketing and sales have reached a point whereby they are on the same page, it’s vitally important for them to revisit their responsibilities annually to ensure they’re still relevant in dynamic environments.

If you have any questions, want to suggest a post, or are interested in how Klaxon can support your business, you can contact me here, on twitter @lauren_klaxon, or in the comments below.