Sales and Marketing Alignment
The specifics you need to pull it off
The essential question the various stakeholders often ask themselves is this: Will I be better off collaborating or going it alone? If you believe your company can better achieve its goals through collaboration and alignment the practical approach we’ve found to work is to show the win to be had with alignment and show them what’s involved to make it a reality.
Show them the Problem
Give specific examples of where alignment issues in BOTH sales and marketing are potentially costing revenue. For example show how definition of terms differ, applications differ, communication is missing and so on. What would happen if you shared metrics and performance in one report?
Show Them the Win
According to a 2010 report by Aberdeen Research, companies who are “best-in-class” at aligning marketing and sales had 20% average growth in annual revenue as opposed to a 4% decline in “laggard” organizations. Best in class sales and marketing organizations report one person responsible for both lead generation and closing business.
Show Them How it Works:
- Share – At these organizations Sales and Marketing share goals, applications and processes that allow them to stay in alignment at every stage of every sale, from first contact to closed sale. One implication of this is that marketing uses CRM as well as the normal marketing technologies according to Aberdeen.
- Definition of Terms – Socrates and the “best-in-class” agree that wisdom begins with definition of terms: What is an ideal client? What is a response? A qualified lead? An opportunity? What are the stages in the sales process?
- Staying Aligned – Weekly meetings and regular reference to the agreed upon definitions is essential to keeping the alignment on track and productive. At times changing circumstances, niche markets and competitive actions require adjustment to the definitions.
- Shared Perspective – A shared Report that shows total marketing and sales activity is the final piece in the puzzle. At a glance everyone can quickly see if progress is being made, where its being made and where adjustments might be considered. Above the Report shared by both marketing and sales will drive one perspective of how well marketing and sales are performing against the metrics that drive company revenue.
Have a dialog about what the various stakeholders from both sales and marketing suspect the impact from alignment might be on goal attainment and revenue. If the shared view of the win is significant is it worth the effort?
Create an action plan for the next year with specific tasks, owners and due dates. Make just one person accountable for each action step but assign somebody from sales AND marketing to be responsible to support achievement of the action step.
Senior Leadership Buy-In
Expose the plan to the next major layer of management and ask for both their blessing and to be held accountable at some date in the future. Without this step the risk of failure is dramatically higher. This gives the program senior level support in terms of both finance and time but also the crisp clarity of a “or else”. If everyone is serious about the goal of alignment this step is a no-brainer.