Solving Sales & Marketing Alignment Challenges with Insights from 80 Marketing Leaders

Marketers around the globe have issues aligning with their sales teams to create a true partnership. But there are ways to ease the burden and create a working partnership that creates a better customer experience. At our recent Marketing Nation Engage event, marketing leaders gathered to learn. One of the most significant opportunities we found was in creating a sales and marketing partnership to better facilitate alignment.

Here’s what marketing leaders find most challenging about sales and marketing alignment and what they recommend to solve these problems:

Accountability

Being a marketer can be tough. Not only does marketing have a full plate of responsibilities to fulfill, but they’re also expected to keep sales in a happy place. Marketing often generates lots of high-quality leads, only for them not to be followed up on by sales.

Holding sales accountable starts with set responsibilities, education, and SLAs. If it remains an issue, marketing can run reports on sales follow up, and bring it to the attention of sales leaders if necessary. Another way to get sales to pull their weight is to frame alignment in terms of things they want: better leads, a smoother process, and more deals closed.

Lead Definition

Another problem marketing teams face is generating leads only to turn around and hear sales claim that they would have gotten them anyway, greatly undermining the department’s efforts and credibility. This problem stems from a common lack of distinction from sales and marketing leads. Does sales know what an MQL is, and do they care? You have to get stakeholders together regarding the implementation of technology and establish what each team will own. Everyone must buy in, from the CFO to the CRO, head of sales, and CMO.

There is also a big change when you can move from lead generation to account-based marketing. Teams can unlock success by working together upfront, crafting a joint strategy for target accounts, and figuring out how marketing can help sales get into them. Practicing ABM forces sales and marketing to be aligned if they want to achieve results.

Lead Nurture

Marketing needs to drive lead nurture, not just single activity interactions. It can be tempting to hand over leads to sales too early after a single engagement or form-fill. Scoring leads helps prevent premature handoff by assessing readiness and providing prioritization. Take the time to learn and evaluate prospects and their engagements to that sales has the proper insights and the right content to reach out. Ultimately, until leads are sufficiently qualified, sales will not be interested. Having sales and marketing sitting next to each other helps facilitate these communications. 

Measurement

If you can’t define and quantify how marketing helps sales, your contributions are meaningless. Marketing success should be measured based on revenue and pipeline attribution, which will come from closed deals from inbound leads. To get there, both teams must be upfront about what has worked (and what hasn’t), along with what needs to be followed up on by the sales team.

Inputting Data

Sales buy-in can be an issue because they don’t always get automation. They’re not always involved in data inputting and often have limited experience. For instance, getting sales to update Salesforce can be a considerable challenge. If done properly, Salesforce data can illuminate marketing contributions to sales. To get ahead of this, you need to educate early on and come up with quick wins for them. For instance, hold weekly meetings with Salesforce dashboards, giving reps the chance to run through who their leads are, how they’ve communicated with them, and when meetings are occurring.

Sales + Marketing Alignment = Partnership = Success

Keeping sales happy can make or break the success of marketing automation, and thus the effectiveness of marketing, so getting to a state of alignment is crucial. Only when sales and marketing are on the same page can you maximize customer-centricity, creating a seamless journey from lead to customer.