• Organizations that fail to align sales and marketing efforts achieve subpar performance.
  • Short of fully integrating marketing with sales, there are a few key steps that will enhance alignment.
  • Marketing and sales should agree on goals, use common metric definitions and engage in authentic interlock discussions.

The recent SiriusDecisions Sales Leadership Exchange brought together CSOs and leaders of sales enablement, sales operations and channel sales  to learn about ways to optimize performance. A key theme appeared across various discussions – the increased need for alignment across sales and marketing. SiriusDecisions research indicates that this alignment can drive between 5 percent and 36 percent of an organization’s growth. Here are six key factors that drive alignment, as discussed at the Sales Leadership Exchange:

  • Goal agreement. Sales and marketing should agree on annual goals and the role of each function to achieve those goals. For example, agree that the team is jointly driving a certain amount of revenue in the quarter, with 20 percent stemming from leads generated from marketing and 80 percent generated by sales.
  • Definitional agreement. Define measures of success in detail. For example, organizations may need to generate interest in a specific targeted buyer persona. Another example mentioned was not just driving a number of leads but driving them from one buyer persona that is prevalent within a specific list of strategic accounts.
  • Integration of teams. Align at the organizational level as much as possible. Some organizations have teleprospecting roles (inside sales) report to marketing, and account-based marketing roles report to sales. Some clients mapped sales teams to specific marketing teams to support their efforts to drive leads, nurture prospects and secure appointments. For example, some clients have assigned demand creation teams to specific sales teams and their goals. Additionally, handoffs between teams require service-level agreements that are defined, agreed upon and measured (e.g. leads passed from inside sales to the field sales rep will be acted upon within a certain amount of days).
  • Rotational assignments to support interlock. Forward-thinking organizations are requiring anyone hoping to move up in management to rotate into marketing or sales before any promotion. Others require teams to spend some time shadowing their counterparts for a week to learn about the day-to-day work.
  • Joint creation of Demand Waterfall® automation and metrics. Many organizations have joint strategic planning meetings that bring marketing and sales leaders together to talk through the details of demand creation and what success looks like. They also create an interlocked demand creation process that clearly identifies sales- and marketing-specific roles and handoffs for timeliness and quality.
  • Authentic interlock discussions. Clients were quick to discuss the need for transparent discussions between the sales and marketing teams during monthly interlock meetings. They emphasized that the meetings must go beyond a review of metrics and goals and include team discussion of the actual efforts made, what went well and what needs improvement. Each team also brought forward examples of joint efforts that worked well and how. These internal interlock stories helped show how the team remain focused on the goal of working together.

The drive for increased growth requires tight sales and marketing alignment. We see increasing evidence that in these organizations, multiple teams are merging into one team with one set of goals – made up of a variety of specialists who contribute to these goals.