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Gareth Goh | January 29, 2016

How to Unlock the Potential of Sales and Marketing Alignment

It’s no secret that the most successful companies operate in harmony.

It’s not enough to just like each other or get along; teams and their members should be working in concert, collaborating on projects and syncing up on strategy, vision and execution tactics.

And in no other departments or functions is this more critical than between sales and marketing.

Sales and marketing alignment should not be considered as a useless buzzword (with its ubiquity, it can be misconstrued as such) nor as an unobtainable pie-in-the-sky pipe dream. It is very much an achievable goal. More importantly, it is an absolutely critical element to have if you want your business to succeed. Yet, most companies - according to Harvard Business Review, 87% of sales and marketing teams had negative opinions of each other - fall well short.

So, what is the key to unlocking the potential of sales and marketing alignment at your company?

Data.

The Benefits of Sales & Marketing Alignment

You already know the broad benefits and intangibles of achieving sales and marketing alignment; better harmony, more communication, driven by a unified vision and goal, etc. However, what can you really do when both teams are aligned?

  • Respond to leads more quickly - There is ample research touting the benefits of responding to a lead quickly, before they become cold. HubSpot noted that “the odds of making a successful contact with a lead are 100x greater when a contact attempt occurs within 5 minutes, compared to 30 minutes after the lead was submitted.” Any time after 30 minutes - even days later - will only minimize your chances of converting the lead as its quality degrades.

    One of the most common reasons for reps not following-up with leads quickly is that they just don’t know that new leads have come in! Whether it’s due to poor process management when it comes to lead distribution, or because reps are grabbing leads daily or weekly, rather than continuously, getting sales and marketing systems more aligned can quickly solve the lead aging issue.

  • Nurture prospects via email - Once you’ve figured out where in your sales funnel stages you’re losing the most prospects, you can start plugging those holes. And one of the best ways to do so is through email nurturing - very much a joint sales-marketing effort.

    Think like your opportunities; why are they leaving at those particular stages? If you were them, what would you want to hear or read that might change your mind? Answering those questions can lead you to launch an email nurturing campaign that is highly targeted, hitting those prospects at each sales funnel stage with the specific type of content or sales collateral that is most fitting for them at that buying stage.

  • Improve attribution and identify best-performing lead sources - Attribution is one of the most critical aspects of modern-day sales and marketing. Unfortunately, it’s also extremely difficult to get right. But when you are able to accurately identify where your opportunities and deals are coming from, you’ll be much better positioned to replicate that success.

    If sales teams can track which lead sources lead to better conversations, opportunities generated and closed-won deals, they can relay that information back to marketing. Marketing can then spend more of their budgets and calories focusing on those high-performing sources.

All those benefits are a direct result of sales and marketing alignment, and any one of them can make an instant and dramatic impact on your bottom line.

But what does data have to do with sales and marketing alignment?

Everything.

It All Starts with Data

Ultimately, the whole point of sales and marketing alignment is for the teams to sell and market better. That very basic goal is what led each team to live so heavily in their CRM or marketing automation system - those tools are designed to help the user function better and more efficiently. Unfortunately, you can’t get sales and marketing aligned...if the tools they use are not aligned.

None of the aforementioned three benefits of alignment – faster lead response times, prospect nurturing and improved attribution – would work without highly accurate real-time data. You need data on when leads are generated (with the appropriate information fields recorded). You need data on which sales funnel stages you’re losing opportunities. You need data on where leads, opportunities and deals are coming from. All that data that is currently housed in your CRM or marketing automation. Separately, in silos.

And therein lies the crux of the issue.

Your marketing teams and sales teams might each collect reams of highly accurate and actionable data. They might even be analyzing this data on a regular basis and putting those findings into immediate effect. But are they sharing that data with their counterparts in marketing? Are both teams working together to analyze that data? Is the information in one system consistent across other systems?

If a lead gets generated in your marketing automation system, but either doesn’t get synced to your CRM, syncs over much later or shares inaccurate information, faster response times to new leads is that much harder to achieve. If your CRM conveys the wrong information on which stage prospects are leaving, marketing will be sending the wrong content to the wrong people at the wrong time. If neither marketing nor sales are diligent about recording lead source information in both marketing automation systems and CRM, how will you know where your value is coming from?

In short, you can’t get any of the great benefits of sales and marketing alignment without having accurate, consistent data in both your CRM and your marketing automation, as well as any other critical business systems. The foundation of sales and marketing automation starts with data, and to that end, data integrations are essential. A CRM and a marketing automation system that both work in individual silos are both death knells to your efforts at sales and marketing alignment.

 

Don’t fall short in this critical area. Get your business systems and data integrated, and you’ll be well on the road toward unlocking sales and marketing alignment.

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