By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

It’s one thing to talk about a revenue-responsible marketing department at the sales kick-off.  It’s fairly common these days to have sales and marketing leaders agree to common objectives.

It’s quite another thing, of course, for these two teams to know how to work together on a Tuesday.  True alignment between sales and marketing doesn’t happen at sales kick-off, it happens via the tactics, processes and habits that connect the two groups on a daily basis.

And for most organizations, that isn’t about your next campaign.  It’s a culture change.  Culture changes take time and require alignment at the very top of the organization.

If sales and marketing alignment isn’t an executive priority, it simply won’t stick.  Revenue is a team sport, not assigned to sales only.  But if creating alignment isn’t supported by the company’s leaders, it simply won’t have the stickiness and longevity it needs to become a habit, to become part and parcel with how your company naturally does business.

Executive sponsorship of this alignment drives more velocity, greater efficiency and better results.  It allows (in some cases, early on, forces) the two groups to work through the initial awkwardness and failures inherent in trying to operate in a new, different way.

Too often, attempts to create tactical sales and marketing alignment fall apart when best-laid plans don’t work out perfectly.  It devolves into finger-pointing, it takes more time and is harder than the previous status quo, so both teams quietly retreat to how they’ve always operated before.  Same words, same objectives, old failed practices.

With executive sponsorship and prioritization, organizations can push through those initial awkward periods to find optimized, sustainable integrations.

Most new initiatives have a “trough of disillusionment” before they accelerate and peak.  Sales and marketing alignment is no different.  Executive support (if not straight mandates) make it far easier to get to that point of success and sustainability.

So how do you get your executives to support sales and marketing alignment?  Try pointing out the impact of not doing it.  Calculate (or at least ballpark) the declining results if the two groups continue to work in silos.  Quote research and precedents (including findings from our own research over the past couple years-see related post links below) that show the widening gap between companies embracing this alignment and those stuck in the status quo.

Look at companies at similar stages of growth, similar sizes, even in other industries, who have embraced sales and marketing alignment and have accelerated their impact, efficiency, effectiveness and results.

Merely starting that conversation at the executive level in your organization will allow it to fester, to marinate, and eventually to become a higher priority than it is now.