What is sales and marketing alignment? It’s when Modern Marketers facilitate sales and marketing team agreement on common goals, strategies, and success metrics.
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Something interesting happens at organizations where effective marketing and sales alignment occurs – they win. According to a 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 organizations. At many of these companies, the sales and marketing organizations report to one senior executive who’s responsible for both attracting and closing business. So, Sales and Marketing share more than just a C-level executive – they also share goals, technologies, and processes that allow them to monitor and optimize every stage of every sale, from first touch to closed deal.
The Essentials of Sales and Marketing Alignment
Sales and marketing alignment begins with shared definitions. What is a contact? A qualified lead? Opportunity? And what are the sales stages? Think of the line from the movie Cool Hand Luke: "What we’ve got here is failure to communicate."
An inability to agree on definitions is the most common impediment to organizations reaching their revenue potential. Even after marketing and sales are on the same page, it’s important for them to revisit their definitions annually to make sure they’re still relevant.
Organizations that have done the hard work to agree on definitions must collaborate to set shared goals for their sales and marketing teams. To make this process easier and transparent, they need a shared set of metrics to define the sales/marketing pipeline – and agree on a single view of the truth. This shared Sales and Marketing dashboard can be a holy grail because it enables organizations to understand the velocity and shape of the sales pipeline and make real-time adjustments if they see opportunities or issues.
Marketing automation software and CRM systems can make dashboards easier and faster to build – though they’re not required to achieve the benefits of sales and marketing automation. But if sales and marketing teams do align with technology, the gains in demand generation and sales enablement can be remarkable. Aberdeen’s report tells us that: “84% of the best in class organizations empower marketing with access to CRM.” The report also identifies marketing automation capabilities such as lead generation, lead scoring, and lead nurturing as important drivers of marketing and sales alignment in top-performing organizations.