A study from Marketingprofs found that sales and marketing teams with high alignment saw a 36 percent increase in win rates compared to less aligned organizations. Readers will undoubtedly realize the importance of having strong alignment between sales and marketing. After all, if the wrong leads are provided to the sales team, win rates will suffer and salespeople will become discouraged. Conversely, if high quality prospects are delivered to sales, and the sales organization is unable to close prospects, customer acquisition costs will rise, and the marketing team may become frustrated with sales.
The age-old question becomes: how can organizations effectively create alignment between sales and marketing teams to ensure improved success? This article reviews five of the most successful strategies used by some of the world’s most successful B2B companies to create this alignment.
- Ensure marketing goals are aligned with revenue goals
In order for the sales organization to be successful, marketers must deliver enough of the right leads, or engage enough of the right accounts. Therefore, it is essential that marketing be responsible for KPIs that are related to the sales team’s revenue goals.
In most instances, the central KPI for demand generation marketing is pipeline value. This means, the marketing team is responsible for providing leads or engaging accounts that have a potential value four or five times greater than the revenue goal (assuming a 25 percent or 20 percent-win rate respectively).
If marketing hits the pipeline creation goal, that it is up to sales to hit their win rate commitment. If both the pipeline goal and win rate goal are achieved, then the target revenue goal should be hit.
In order for the marketing team to calculate a pipeline goal, sales and marketing need to align on the average deal size, average sales cycle, and expected win-rate. With these numbers in hand, marketers can set clear KPIs and develop campaigns designed to produce the right amount of pipeline.
- Calculate the time it will take a salesperson to handle each lead
Let’s assume your organization is taking a lead based approach to marketing. In order for the team to hit a pipeline creation goal of $1 million, assuming an average deal size of $10,000, marketers will need to deliver 1,000 qualified leads.
Even if marketers are successful at delivering 1,000 leads, does the sales team have enough manpower to handle the leads appropriately. If the sales team is understaffed, marketers will have delivered leads that go untouched. If the sales team is over staffed, sales people should be told they will need to do additional outbound marketing in order to hit their quotas.
The only way to know if the sales team can handle 1,000 leads is by knowing the time is takes a salesperson to properly handle one lead. Some of the factors to consider when making this calculation include:
- The number of available hours per week a salesperson has to qualify or work new leads,
- The time it takes to qualify a new lead, including time to enter this information in a CRM.
With time to handle information in hand, sales leaders will know whether or not their team has the capacity to handle the leads provided by marketing. If there is misalignment, either goals can be revised, or team size can be changed to support demand.
- Have marketers listen to representative sales calls
Marketers will benefit from listening to representative sales calls. Listening to sales calls should be a monthly activity that everyone on the marketing team participates in. Even if your organization has crystal clear buyer personas, it can be helpful for marketers to hear from real prospective customers on an ongoing basis.
Consider using tools like Gong or Chorus.ai, recording sales calls, and use machine learning to tag the conversation by topic. This means marketers can skip to relevant parts of the sales conversations, and that these calls can be listened to at any time. There’s no need to sit in on live demos to get close to prospects.
- Agree on qualification criteria
What types of leads count as marketing qualified leads, what is the criteria for advancing a marketing qualified lead down the funnel? If a lead is unqualified, is the sales team required to indicate why? Does the marketing team use unqualified reasons to optimize the marketing mix?
Hopefully you have positive answers to all of the questions above. If you do, it means that there is a good chance your marketing and sales teams have at least partial alignment. If you do not have clear answers, it is time for the marketing and sales team leaders to sit down and hammer out qualification criteria, and to review unqualified reasons. Doing so will help both teams to work more effectively.
- Consider implementing an account-based approach to sales and marketing
While an account-based approach is not right for every business, it has helped many B2B organizations to sell more effectively. That’s because taking an account-based marketing and sales approach requires that both teams identify target accounts. From there, marketing works to engage these accounts and sales works to close them after the accounts have engaged.
That means that alignment between teams is there from the beginning. Since both teams must agree to targeting a group of accounts up-front, both teams are aligned from the get go.
Creating sales and marketing alignment is one of the most important ways organizations can improve the effectiveness of both teams. Forging this alignment can also help to lower customer acquisition cost, while also providing a better sales experience for prospective customers.