Sales and Marketing Alignment
The Cost of Poor Alignment
The sales team thinks marketing is irrelevant. Marketing thinks sales wants every lead to come with a ribbon and a purchase order stapled to it. Management wonders some days why they invest in either marketing or sales.
Value of Solid Alignment
Aberdeen 2010 study, “Sales and Marketing Alignment: Collaboration + Cooperation = Peak Performance,” by Senior Research Analyst Chris Houpis’ indicates that well aligned organizations perform significantly better; annual revenue up 47 percent compared to the least aligned companies.
Commitment to the Alignment Process
First there must be a conviction that the status quo isn’t working. Second the cost of the status quo not working has to be seen as high enough that action is a top priority for management; this is not likely to be effectively driven by marketing or sales in most organizations. Third, a date must be set to begin the peace process followed by the alignment process.
Incompletes. All participants are typically incomplete about one irritation or the other that is a symptom of mis-alignment. When someone gets “complete” on the irritation it falls out of their internal conversation. By contrast incompletes dominate people’s internal mental conversations about the other guys. Sales resents the lack of leads and marketing resents the lack of follow-up. These incompletes must be talked out and perspectives must be shared prior to trying for alignment. To do otherwise is almost always a recipe for failure.
The SMART outline (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time limited) of the goals is important. More important yet is that everyone believes the goal is attainable with existing resources and that there is a win for each party if the goal is attained. This part is hard and one of the most significant tests for a leader. Some leaders choose to leave this process to a facilitator with background support from the leader.
The Pivot Point for Alignment
Pre-2000 sales typically found the lead, qualified, hand nurtured, prioritized (lead scored), closed the lead or recycled the lead. Today, ideally, marketing does approximately 80% of all that. Leads have 80% of their product information before they first engage with sales. That 80% ideally comes from content that marketing has put on the web including the company website and the nurture program. The pivot point for alignment is marketing and sales agreement about what content, what delivery pace and what media.
Facilitate & Enable Using This Outline:
- Agree on the goals – get them in writing using the SMART outline.
- Include all of the stakeholders – gain executive sponsorship. on definition of terms – especially “alignment” – “wisdom begins with a definition of terms” – Socrates.
- Get everyone complete
- Agree on steps to both achieve and maintain alignment.
- Negotiate the first draft of the points of alignment.
- Assign accountabilities and time lines.
- Remember – don’t expect too much from technology; at best it is neutral.
- Drive for dialog vs. discussion (dialog exchanges views and seek understanding whereas discussion seeks to have one’s point of view prevail).
- Measure and Report – Opinions fuel arguments while measurement ends them.
- Schedule to have marketing and alignment meetings weekly.
- Keep minutes of major topics, agreements and commitments. Make the minutes an attachment to the report.
Sales & Marketing Alignment Project
Consider getting help from those with backgrounds in marketing and sales as well as organizational development. There is just too much at risk here to use anyone who isn’t an expert at gaining marketing and sales alignment. You can do this as a standalone project or part of a larger b2b marketing automation engagement. There is probably nothing you can do in the near term that will do more to increase your revenue and decrease your costs.