In 2004, Airbus was working on the A380, the largest passenger plane in the world at that time. As the company started to build the plane, it sent parts from Toulouse to Hamburg for assembly; on arrival, however, team members discovered that the parts didn’t fit together as they should have. An investigation revealed that different parts of the organization had been working in isolation, using different CAD programs with different measurements.

When it comes to determining the right mix of marketing approaches for annual planning, we similarly see marketing teams working in isolation from sales. As a result, when the moment comes to share their plan, marketing leaders often face a lack of interest or understanding from sales, as it’s not clear how the marketing plan supports them directly and fits with their go-to-market (GTM) strategy.

What should you do differently to drive a better outcome? Here are five steps you can introduce to your planning this year to drive better alignment from the start.

  1. Use account data and insight as the foundation for your planning. Sales takes an account-centric view when it comes to territory allocation and revenue forecasting. Getting a deeper understanding of the go-to-market strategy behind account allocations will help you ensure a closer fit between the sales GTM strategy and the marketing-approach mix.
  2. Partner with sales operations to gather the data. You’re going to need a range of data inputs for your plan, including target account lists, share of wallet, and average win rates. Sales operations owns this data and will need to gather it for you, so a close relationship here is crucial.
  3. Group accounts based on value. For most organizations, it is too time-consuming and resource-intensive to plan demand activity against all accounts individually, as these could number into the thousands. If that is your situation, look to build segments of accounts based on shared opportunity type (retention, development, or acquisition) and target revenue bands. Moreover, by using the data that sales operations has helped gather, you’ll be able to calculate values for each segment.
  4. Map marketing approaches against segments. Use a combination of segment value and the number of accounts in each segment to determine the best-fit marketing approach (e.g., one-to-one account-based marketing, vertical marketing, demand marketing). As part of this exercise, you may decide to focus efforts on specific segments and/or suggest that other teams such as customer marketing or channel marketing take the lead.
  5. Create a simple visual summary to share. Think carefully about how you’re going to summarize and share the output of this process with sales. A clear visualization that shows how demand approaches and accounts fit together will get the sales team on board and ensure that your plan takes off.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to better align your marketing approach mix and sales GTM strategy, join my colleague Alisa Groocock and I at this year’s B2B Summit EMEA on September 28–29. We’ll walk through the steps I’ve outlined above in more detail and share a new tool to support this process.