When it comes to modern organizations in any industry, internal processes that align with executing the overall business strategy have always been a no-brainer. It makes sense then that an extension of this includes the alignment of sales and marketing as organizations push to create better experiences for prospective customers, and have more control over every touchpoint during a customer journey.
But many businesses still struggle with achieving alignment, and understanding why marketing and sales alignment directly contributes to business growth. We should first look at what foundations are required, why these elements are necessary, and what your business stands to lose if true marketing and sales alignment isn’t achieved.
What does true marketing and sales alignment look like?
If we think about the foundation for marketing and sales alignment, there are three important factors that determine the potential for success. Common tools and procedures, communication and collaboration, and clear KPIs and goals across teams are critical for achieving real alignment.
Let’s break down these factors and explore why they contribute to a well-functioning internal organization that achieves true growth:
1. Common tools and procedures
Gone are the days when marketeers have their own set of tools while sales work within a completely different framework. With the advent of full-stack SaaS like Marketo, information transfer is no longer manual, and prospect or customer interactions no longer happen in silos. But many organizations are still approaching how they equip sales and marketing with technology and support differently.
Even if your organization doesn’t view marketing and sales as completely separate entities, if the tools and procedures are not built to encourage the supportive, symbiotic relationship that they should have, then you will never achieve true alignment.
Most importantly, if your business is lacking common tools, and standard procedures for how teams should be working within those tools, there will always be the potential for breakdown in managing the customer journey.
By using common tools and procedures, you can increase efficiency in the customer process, your teams can be more productive, and individuals within teams will spend less time with manual activities. Not to mention, technology and tool overload can actually contribute to loss of productivity due to task switching, administrative efforts, and redundancies. But the conditions for growth in modern organizations require efficiency and productivity. Seek out solutions that combine and overlap many processes at once and that sales and marketing can both benefit from.
Examples of this are robust CRMs, data analysis suites, marketing automation software, and integrations with BI, Ad networks, and sales activity logs. Ensuring all interested parties have a total overview of customer interactions and performance means more control over customer lifecycles.
2. Communication and collaboration
One of the biggest challenges that organizations face is internal communication and creating a culture of collaboration. But real marketing and sales alignment is not achievable without either.
When thinking about the internal structure of your marketing and sales teams, there shouldn’t be a hierarchy in terms of departments. While leadership may look different depending on various internal or external factors, the teams themselves should be seen and treated as equally crucial to the success of the business. When teams see each other as equals, and as important pieces of a common goal, communication and collaboration become much easier.
High growth organizations tend to have specific processes, but multiple channels and methods for formal and informal communication. Your teams should have direct lines of access to one another, without the need to go through a chain of command where information can be lost in translation, or communication is too slow.
An easy first step in creating open communication and collaboration, is by deploying common tools and procedures. Your teams can then work together within those tools while understanding what needs to be done and who is responsible for which tasks.
3. Clear KPIs and goals
Marketing and sales have always had a love-hate relationship. Some of this has to do with each team wanting “credit” for securing a paying customer. With inbound and content marketing, and sales also adapting an educational, content-forward approach, it can seem even more difficult to attribute credit to the team or individuals that made the actual sale happen.
This internal competition may be a good thing if it generates highly motivated people, but it can often turn into hurt egos and resentment if not handled properly. This is why marketing and sales alignment requires measurement, and clear KPIs and goals which actually make attribution easier, and growth factors easier to determine.
Some of the best ways to ensure credit is paid where credit is due, and to properly measure the performance of your internal alignment, is by looking at source reports, attribution reports, and conversion rates. By tracking performance in these ways, you can ensure that you understand the activities that are contributing to growth, and can double down on what works and adjust what doesn’t, while ensuring each team is given recognition for their roles in the overall customer journey.
Knowing where leads came from (source reports), measuring how they move through the customer journey (conversion rates), and determining which activities contributed to their decision making (attribution reports) will allow your teams to understand their roles and relationships in a tangible way, and encourage accountability.
Organizations that have high growth rely on data to inform decision making and encourage performance standards from all internal stakeholders. Additionally, to validate the implementation of your tools, procedures, and communication pathways, common goals should be set with clear ways of measuring success.
What does your business stand to lose if you are not adapting internal processes for marketing and sales alignment?
When it comes down to it, if your business is not aligning sales and marketing and adapting internal processes to support such alignment, you stand to lose money and market share - in a very real sense.
That money comes in the form of lost revenue - either by missing prospective sales who slip through the cracks between marketing and sales and then turn to a competitor who is more attentive to their needs, or by missing repeat business by not having an eye on the overall customer lifecycle.
But resources are also lost when teams are disjointed, processes are slow and manual, or internal competition creates gatekeeping and animosity. Time is lost, which means money is lost. And without an internal culture where teams feel connected, important, and contributing to success, you risk high employee turnover which can result in devastating costs for hiring and training.
It’s not impossible to achieve growth without marketing and sales alignment. But hyper-growth and true scalability are only reached by those organizations who prioritize that their marketing and sales teams have common tools and procedures, clear communications and collaboration, and are striving together towards common goals that are measured against relevant KPIs.
Learn more about how we can help you align your marketing and sales by reading about our solutions: