Tragically, many efforts to create better alignment and results between sales & marketing at B2B organizations are dead before they even begin.

It’s not due to execution or focus, lead definitions or effort. Unfortunately, in many cases, it’s the head of sales who doesn’t buy into the program, doesn’t support it with his or her people, and therefore kills any chance of it working and creating value for the organization.

Of course, demonstrating before-and-after results in other organizations can help. But I’ve found that directly appealing to the things that head of sales already cares about – and demonstrating how better coordination & alignment with marketing can help – is what gets them over the hump and into productive, cooperation mode.

Here are eight sales benefits that work best.

Better leads
Sales teams worldwide, for thousands of years, have complained about the quality of their leads. But coordinated, agreed-upon definitions of qualified leads between sales & marketing helps solve that problem.

It can ensure your sales team is working with better leads, making better use of the reps time, and helping your team more efficiently drive towards quota and beyond.

Happier reps = better retention
Sales reps who struggle to hit their number, slog through not-ready leads, and feel they’re on their own often get frustrated and leave. And every head of sales can tell you eight reasons why it’s incredibly expensive to lose even an average rep (plus have to find, train and get to quota a new one).

Reps who get better leads and are supported with an aligned marketing organization tend to be happier, more productive, and stick around.

Faster support & solutions from marketing
Every sales team I know has a laundry list of things they’d like from marketing. And most sales teams complain that they don’t get these tools delivered fast enough, or that some things languish on the list forever.

With better alignment around revenue responsibility, sales & marketing can agree on the order and urgency of those support tools. If marketing is also responsible for revenue contribution, they’re just as motivated to get the right tools completed and delivered quickly.

More focused reps with better results
Imagine you had a pre-determined definition with marketing about what a Sales Qualified Lead looks like. Imagine these are the only leads your team receives. Yes, volume may go down from what they’re used to, but I bet your reps are more productive and have healthier pipelines as a result.

Share the blame!
This may be superficial, but ask any head of sales and she’ll tell you it’s important. When sales are down, sales gets blamed. But if you’re aligned with marketing from a revenue responsibility perspective, you can work together collaboratively to identify what’s wrong and operationalize a solution.

It’s less about sharing the blame, and more about having an active partner to proactively solve problems, someone who’s now equally aligned with you from a visibility, responsibility and even compensation perspective.

More sales training “for free”
In a non-aligned world, marketing generates leads and throws them at the sales team. Occasionally, there will be a “heads up” email about the offer, but little else.

In a marketing-aligned world, sales teams get detailed briefings about campaigns, what customers are targeted, what the intent of the inbound leads will look like, as well as response and follow-up tools, scripting and more to support the reps and increase conversion rates.

You might have a sales training organization or effort already, but with better alignment marketing becomes part of that training effort as well.

More efficient salespeople
An aligned marketing organization now cares just as much as you do about helping sales reps be more efficient. This includes faster and more effective pre-call prospect research, less time on administrative tasks (including entering data into the CRM system), and more.

In an aligned sales & marketing world, marketing is recommending and helping to implement tools, processes and more that ultimately improve both the quality of the process & leads as well as the efficiency with which reps can work through and convert them.

Help with sales operations
Somewhat related to the previous point, but worth pointing out again. In essence, your sales operations team just got bigger. You now have a marketing organization working proactively to ensure leads are seamlessly integrated into the workflow of the reps, data augmentation and research tools are ready and working, and that leads & opportunities that fall back out of the pipeline are supported with nurture campaigns until they’re again active.

Together, these “reasons” can make a highly compelling case for your head of sales.

  • Great post, Matt! Sales and Marketing have to own the pipeline together. We are big believers in providing Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) via our Business Development Reps who qualify the marketing generated leads before passing them on to Sales. It also helps when you have tools that can provide specific data regarding the extent to which marketing materials are used by the sales team, as well as correlating the use of individual assets with actual account wins or losses.

    Here’s a post we did on that:

    -Team Q

  • Excellent post! Couldn’t agree more from my years spent brokering peace between technology company sales and marketing teams! My biggest successes were when I was “in it” with the Sales team and not just throwing leads over the fence. Thanks Matt.

  • Michael Bonner

    Great piece!
    One thought – You may have missed one of the key reasons for the disconnect – they don’t speak the same language. Marketing has their objectives, sales has theirs. There will always be different perspectives. On the one hand you have statisticians trying to influence en masse, and at the other you have people dealing with people one-at-a-time.
    Until they speak a common language that addresses the full cycle from the prospect first hearing about a given solution through to being a year-over-year re-purchasing customer you have silo-ed information, dis-integrated dashboards and divisions.
    I mention this because we are in this space. We have experience aligning tools to give people a big picture look at the continuum of the process so that marketing can have visibility over the sales dropoffs, the stalls, the wins, etc. They can insert special guidance and questions into key steps of a sales process to gather complete and vetted information better than all the annoying surveys. This also gives sales a voice that tells marketing when the leads are good – and how to improve them.
    It’s rare when people can just talk their way out of a culture issue. There needs to be a means to define the new language and processes so that people get more facile with the language every day.