Sales and Marketing Alignment – Why is it so hard?

CEOs struggle to get their Sales and Marketing teams to work together. It seems simple enough. We all are driving toward the same outcome. Yet there is friction between the Sales and Marketing teams that is either visible or simmering below the surface.

Sales has a mission that is clear and visible. They sell stuff and bring money into the company. The Sales team has a quota to hold them accountable for achieving their mission. Sales often believes the only role of Marketing is to support selling efforts.

Marketing has many missions ranging from strategic market planning to supporting day-to-day sales efforts. The Marketing team has a wide range of metrics to hold them accountable for their efforts. Marketing doesn’t believe they are short-order cooks for the Sales team.

When there is a disconnect between how each group approaches achieving the goals of the business you experience Sales and Marketing misalignment.  Each group understands the definition of success (the business goals). Where the tangle starts is the interpretation of how the goals get accomplished.

Sales chooses to take one path to success. Marketing takes a different path. The result is misalignment. Both seek to take the moral high ground. There is great irony when both groups claim victory (and get bonuses), but the business doesn’t get what it expects.

Marketing spends budget on activities that don’t return value. Sales wastes valuable resources on low quality sales opportunities.

What can you do to start down the path to Sales and Marketing Alignment?

1. Ensure better alignment through shared goals and supporting metrics. Sales doesn’t market and Marketing doesn’t sell, but we need both for the business to succeed. The most common goal is revenue. Translate that into metrics both groups can track against.

2. Change the focus from how you sell to how they buy. Understanding the buying journey encourages collaboration between Sales and Marketing. It breaks down the barriers between the “this is what we do and that’s what they do” silo mentality. Track every opportunity through the buying journey not your sales process.

3. Acknowledge that marketing efforts don’t end when the Sales team gets a lead. Marketing efforts start long before there’s a lead and long after the lead becomes a customer. Those efforts track to the buying journey.

4. Generating ‘leads’ are not a good measure of marketing efficacy. We want leads that close, not leads for leads sake. Define the characteristics of high quality leads. Create incentives for Marketing to deliver more leads that close (not just more leads).

5. Take small steps. Learn. Adjust.

David Daniels

David Daniels

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