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Cats and dogs. Oil and water. Sales and Marketing. Commonly these pairs do not get along well with each other. Do you experience friction between Sales and Marketing? If you do, you’re not alone. There is a natural rivalry that exists between Sales and Marketing in most organizations. But the best Sales and Marketing teams agree on one thing: Strategy.

 

Our Annual Research Report identified that the best teams are differentiated by their strategic plans. But are the goals, objectives, and metrics that support the strategic plans aligned? Are Sales and Marketing working together or are they creating friction with each other?

 

Sales Operations can be an effective bridge between Sales and Marketing organizations. Sales Operations can ensure alignment on key elements of the business to reduce friction. How can you tell if you’re aligned? Answer these three questions:

 

  • Do you have a single view of the customer?
  • Have Sales and Marketing agreed on common terms and definitions?
  • Are goals and metrics aligned between Sales and Marketing?

 

Step 1: Establish a single view of the customer.

Sales owns customer engagement and new customer acquisition. But Marketing plays a significant role supporting them in their efforts to obtain customers. Without alignment the customer may receive too many, or worse, competing messages. A single view of the customer will reduce friction and the risk of customer dissatisfaction. Sales Operations can align its CRM system with the marketing database to enable this single view. To begin, make sure each system exchanges a basic set of information:

 

  • Identification: shared customer and/or contact ID.
  • A log of marketing interactions: outbound email details, engagement with social media, outbound telemarketing calls.
  • A log of sales interactions: outbound email messages, face-to-face meetings, presentations and proposals in process.
  • A log of customer-initiated actions: website visits, social media interactions.

     

This common single view allows Sales and Marketing teams to avoid customer disruption. Activity logs can be used to generate dashboard reports that track progress against goals. With these insights, teams will be more collaborative and less competitive with each other.

 

Step 2: Gain agreement on common terms and definitions.

A significant source of friction between Sales and Marketing is with terms and definitions. Without alignment on a few key terms there will be discord throughout Sales and Marketing. Marketing will count leads differently than sales. Sales will complain that leads aren’t qualified properly, if at all.

 

Sales Operations has a vested interest in pipeline and funnel management. The best marketing organizations contribute to revenue growth by supplying top of funnel leads. But without a common set of terms and definitions misalignment is inevitable. Start with the following list to drive consensus and alignment between Sales and Marketing:

 

  • Contact: What is a contact? When is a contact created in the system? Who can create a new contact in the CRM and/or marketing automation system? Is there a difference between a marketing contact and a sales contact?
  • Lead: What constitutes a lead and differentiates it from a contact?
  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): What is the criteria for qualification? How was the qualification conducted (telemarketing or automation)? What are Marketing’s expectations when the MQL is passed to Sales for follow up? What is Sales’ service level agreement (SLA) for follow up on MQLs?
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): What is the criteria for qualification? How is it different than an MQL?
  • Marketing Contribution: How does Marketing calculate its contribution to pipeline and closed revenue?

     

 

Step 3: Ensure alignment on goals and metrics.

In step one, Sales Operations and Marketing established a single view to the customer. In step two, you gained agreement on key terms and definitions. Now you’re ready to align your results reporting and metrics. In most companies, Sales and Marketing organizations have different methods of reporting results. This can create tension any time a monthly or quarterly report is generated.

 

What’s the solution? Leverage the single view of the customer to establish common metrics and ensure alignment. Start by jointly defining the goals and objectives for the fiscal period. Marketing is accountable for the generation of MQLs that align with the goal. Sales is accountable to further qualify and convert leads into opportunities. By working together on common goals and establishing common reporting frameworks, dashboard reports align. Friction is reduced.

 

What’s Next?

For most companies we are entering the annual planning season. As you develop your plans for next year download our research report. Review it with your team and your VP of Sales. In addition, sign up for our free workshop. In just 90-minutes you’ll discover additional benefits of Sales and Marketing alignment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Bauer

Drives business growth through brand strategy, sales and marketing alignment and marketing effectiveness.
Learn more about Eric Bauer >

As a global marketing leader, Eric helps clients identify and implement strategies that result in sustained growth. He works closely with marketing and sales teams to help clients align go-to-market strategies and navigate the complex, multifaceted issues that affect branding, demand generation, and lead qualification. He oversees projects that help clients optimize their marketing resources and deliver measurable return on investment. He counsels clients on emerging trends in marketing automation, content marketing, demand generation, marketing operations, sales and marketing alignment, and lead management.

 

Eric is the author of many marketing and sales related articles. His recent experience includes developing a scalable campaign development process for a software company. Eric identified gaps in their existing process and created a standardized, repeatable process that addresses all aspects of demand generation, lead nurturing, and result reporting. He also helped a global petro-chemical company optimize their marketing and branding efforts to identify and recruit top site operators and retail locations for their products and services.

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