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5 Key Areas of Marketing and Sales Alignment for Revenue Growth

February 18, 2022

Contributor: Jeffrey L. Cohen

It is no longer possible for these two functions to remain distinct and achieve peak performance.

In short: 

  • Sales and marketing teams have traditionally operated in silos, but now more than ever, this is not a viable strategy.
  • In order to meet their goals, sales and marketing leaders must collaborate across a series of revenue-generating activities.
  • Align your efforts across go-to-market strategy, messaging, measurement, enablement and operations for the greatest impact.

Since I started writing about and studying sales and marketing alignment earlier this year, I’ve had a number of conversations that have resonated with leaders in both spheres. Everyone sees their organization in this discussion, whether collaboration exists or challenges abound.

As the process of buying and selling evolves, customer-facing roles change along with it. Sales and marketing teams have traditionally operated in silos, resulting in tension and preventing each team from fully executing on their jobs. Today, it’s no longer possible for these two functions to remain distinct — they must work together to accomplish specific tasks.

Download now: The New B2B Buying Journey and its Implication for Sales

CSOs and CMOs play separate roles and focus on distinct results in the revenue life cycle, but they must collaborate across a series of revenue-generating activities to meet their goals. Alignment is not a status to achieve; it is a continuous path of collaboration.

The following guidance demonstrates specific collaborative activities across a number of strategic fundamentals — processes owned by sales and marketing teams individually — that will lead to revenue growth. 

Go-to-market strategy

The process to determine the go-to-market approach and target audience often falls to marketing alone. They develop personas, understand the market and collect data about buyers and the product. But the sales team has plenty to add to this conversation. They spend all day talking to buyers and thus understand their challenges on a granular level. It is critical to bring together the broad perspective of marketing and the specific perspective of sales to identify the most likely customers. This is relevant whether you are focused on leads or accounts.

Sales: Provide qualitative market, customer and prospect insights.

Marketing: Provide quantitative persona, product and segment market data.

Download now: Gartner’s Top Marketing Predictions for 2022

Messaging

When sales and marketing are misaligned, the disconnect comes through in customer-facing messaging. Customers read one thing in marketing emails, content and social posts, while they hear something else entirely from sellers. Strive to continuously improve the messaging platform so that it is consistent and further resonates with buyers. Marketing often does this alone because of their understanding of industry insight, but sales know what words and content impact buyers. They can share the voice of the customer based on their regular interactions with them.

Sales: Share the voice of the customer.

Marketing: Share industry insight.

Measurement

If sales and marketing are not measuring the same thing, it is difficult to align their results. But more often than not, the issue is that the two functions are measuring different kinds of things. For example, many marketing teams are responsible for delivering a specific number of leads (or marketing-qualified leads). This is a quantitative metric. Sales is responsible for delivering on pipeline and revenue numbers, which are primarily qualitative metrics. If someone is not a good fit for the solution, it is hard to close the deal. 

When both teams are measured on their influence on revenue, they can seek results against the same types of metrics. The process requires agreeing on specific shared metrics, how they are reported and where the data is sourced. While marketing needs to measure further into the funnel, sales needs to follow and provide visibility into the process.

Sales: Measure commitment to sales process.

Marketing: Measure campaign engagement’s impact on revenue.

Learn more: What Is Digital Marketing Strategy — And What Are the Keys to Its Success?

Enablement

Enablement is the alignment secret weapon, because sales and marketing teams collaborate in this area whether or not they do so elsewhere. Marketers create the content that sellers need for internal and external use — but there’s still room for a better way of working together. An integrated process with appropriate feedback loops from sales before and after they use the collateral increases its effectiveness. Better trained sales reps and stronger materials lead to revenue growth. 

Sales: Provide input before and after deploying materials.

Marketing: Create and iterate upon materials to inform what sellers know, say, show and do.

Operational fundamentals

When determining how sales and marketing can work together to achieve revenue growth, there are three categories of operational fundamentals to consider. Since other functions primarily own these activities, sales and marketing leaders can make recommendations for more collaborative efforts, but they cannot solve alignment just between the two of them. 

These are:

  • Revenue process design. Design internal, interconnected workflows that guide the buyer through the revenue life cycle.
  • Technology. Advise on the requirements of a technology stack that meets the needs of sales and marketing.
  • Data. Develop a data strategy inclusive of governance and quality assurance.

This story was originally published on the Gartner Blog Network.

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