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Marketing

B2B Sales And Marketing Alignment | 101 Guide

Janhavi Nagarhalli
Published:
December 4, 2023
Updated:
June 10, 2024
Table of Contents

"Marketing isn't sending us quality leads," "Sales can't close the deal fast enough" – sound familiar?

With conflicting opinions and an ongoing blame game, sales and marketing are always at war, but the only thing getting killed is your chance to drive revenue. 52.2% of sales professionals find that sales and marketing team misalignment results in lost pipeline and revenue. 

We're here to tell you everything you need about B2B sales and marketing alignment to foster healthy collaboration and avoid losing revenue. This blog covers:

  • Reasons for Sales and marketing misalignment 
  • Why sales and marketing alignment is a must
  • Must-try sales and marketing alignment strategies 

First off, What does Sales and Marketing Alignment even mean?

Sales and marketing alignment is the strategic integration and collaboration between sales and marketing teams to boost business efficiency and drive growth. It ensures that both departments eliminate silos by communicating effectively and working in tandem toward common objectives.

While operating in silos would’ve worked in the past, it’s crucial for B2B sales and marketing teams to unify their go-to-market efforts.

Source: HowtoSaaS

Why is B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment Important?

Here are 5 reasons why B2B sales and marketing alignment is important:

1. Deliver a Unified and Seamless Customer Experience

The B2B customer journey is non-linear and complex. With countless marketing and sales touchpoints to analyze and optimize, it’s no surprise that businesses still struggle to understand it. Plus, when your sales and marketing teams are misaligned, it only complicates the situation further. 

Aligning customer engagement across marketing and sales efforts leads to a more holistic view of the customer journey map and allows both teams to execute their strategies coherently while offering a seamless customer experience.

2. Improved Understanding of Your Ideal Customer

Sales and marketing interact with buyers differently, which means they have completely different understandings of their customers. For example, marketers have a more holistic understanding of aggregate buying behavior across a large number of buyers. but sales has more personal knowledge of each buyer. 

Sales understands the major pain points and objections buyers overcome before investing in a product. Marketing uses insights from market research, website analytics, and social media data to craft content aligned with the buyer's journey. By combining these insights, you'll gain a much better understanding of your customer. 

3. Clearer and More Productive Feedback

Let’s say marketing fails to inform sales about a lead they gain from a blog about SOC II compliance. As a result, sales doesn’t highlight the tool’s compliance feature, prompting your prospect to look for a secure alternative. 

When your teams are aligned, it opens doors to clearer communication. 

An open line of communication allows you to focus on refining strategies and keeps the team receptive to constructive feedback. 

For instance, when your sales team receives insight from their sales calls about your competitor's product being too complicated to use, marketing can use this to create content and launch campaigns that highlight your product’s ease of use. 

“Our strategic approach to teamwork entails focused measures at RecurPost. For example, the teams engaged in joint planning sessions for introducing a new subscription plan where such messaging was coordinated making the customer journey seamless.

Using a shared feedback loop in everyday meetings was effective. During a recent content campaign, sales generated customized messaging which ultimately raised lead engagement by 20% after one week.”Debbie Moran, Marketing Manager at RecurPost

4. Improves Team Performance

When marketing and sales focus on divergent KPIs and metrics (Eg: Marketing focuses on MQLs and Sales focuses on revenue), there's much more room for conflict and blame.

When both teams align on metrics like "pipeline/revenue generation," it's in their interest to collaborate to optimize ROI and pipeline.

5. Higher ROI from GTM Efforts 

When the sales and marketing GTM motions are misaligned, you risk losing opportunities to close deals and create the potential for infighting among teams. 

Alignment between sales and marketing is crucial to executing a successful GTM strategy. According to Forrester when your company aligns on tech, processes, and people, you can see 36% more revenue growth and 28% more profitability. 

This is because smarketing empowers:  

  • Better experience for each member of the buying group
  • Engagement with more members of the buying committee
  • Relevant, aligned messaging across marketing and sales channels
  • Better brand recall and perception amongst buyers that your brand is an expert

Why is Sales and Marketing Alignment Difficult? 

While occasional disagreement between sales and marketing is natural, certain red flags indicate misalignment. There are many tell-tale signs for when your B2B sales and marketing teams aren't aligned, such as:

  • The sales team repeatedly blames marketing for "low-quality" leads. 
  • SDRs disqualify the majority of MQLs right off the bat. 
  • Marketing collateral goes unused by the sales team. 
  • Your marketing and sales team operates in silos

We believe there are 4 main reasons for this misalignment:

1. Lack of Strategic Function in Marketing

Marketing is often known just to write blogs and create pretty infographics while not directly contributing to revenue. It has always been seen as a service function instead of a strategic one. This is because marketers have a one-track mind to measure success – getting leads. 

Strategic Function in Marketing

Rather than ending their responsibility at leads, where they might not care about what happens after they are passed to sales, marketing must be held responsible for:

  • New Customer Acquisition - all the way from getting leads to account engagement, opportunity acceleration and revenue generation
  • Expansion and Upsell Revenue - engaging and educating existing customers to get additional revenue
  • Retention and Churn prevention - Product Education to help customers realise value from the product and hence drive retention 

2. Misaligned Priorities

Even though sales and marketing have common goals of increasing revenue and improving CLV, they use different metrics to measure success, with sales carrying the major burden of bringing in revenue. An aligned strategy begins with the shared goal of prioritizing customer value. Use this commonality to jointly create campaigns that target the same audiences and accounts while ensuring an overlap in your teams' measurement and KPIs.

3. Ownership of Customer Data

We can access customer data at our fingertips today but said data has minimal value when left in disparate systems. 60% of sales reps say marketing and sales don't co-own customer strategy and data, and 25% say customer data is still owned in silos by marketing and sales. 

For example, if you use CRM tools and marketing automation platforms, ensure they're easily linked. By uniting their data, both teams will gain more insight into the full process and a clearer picture of campaign efforts that drive the most ROI.

4. Operating in Silos

The most common challenge when aligning sales and marketing teams is balancing "healthy competition" and collaboration. 

Siloed B2B functions vs Aligned Marketing
Source: Fullfunnel

When deals are attributed as "Marketing" or "Sales," it creates an "us" vs. "them" mentality between the two teams, and each of them is under immense pressure to perform. The elimination of silos and the establishment of a collaborative, cross-functional, and revenue-generating unified team is a key driver for future success as the typical buyer journey continues to evolve.

The best way to break down these silos is by having constructive conversations with both teams to answer the following:

  • What does marketing need from sales?
  • What does sales need marketing?
  • What does the typical customer journey look like?
  • What does our ICP look like?
  • What does a qualified lead look like?
  • What can each team do better?

"Given that many marketing and sales misalignments stem from in-fighting over attribution, a multi-touch attribution model that accounts for sales and marketing efforts can help." Joe Kevens, Director of Demand Generation at PartnerStack and the Founder of B2B SaaS Reviews

▶️Learn more about multi-touch attribution models here.

8 B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment Best Practices You Must Follow 

1. Agree on a Common Buyer Persona

Creating a sales and marketing alignment strategy without a clear understanding of your target buyer is like driving in the dark without headlights. Sales and marketing teams must collaborate to understand their buyers, tailor their messaging, and pitch accordingly to win deals.

"We create buyer personas in Cisco to identify the perfect buyer, the perfect person that we could target with a marketing message based on segments, job descriptions, and based on where a person is currently in the buyer journey."Carola Van Der Linden, Global Virtual Marketing Manager, Cisco

Buyer Persona
Source: Skylead

2. Set Shared Goals and KPIs 

Marketers and sales teams have their eyes on different metrics and short-term goals. Getting them to agree may require a new focus point for both groups. Technically, marketing and sales teams share the same goal: converting new leads. However, this process can seem like two separate stages because of the perceived handoff from marketing to sales. Encourage your teams to think about the sales funnel as one process rather than two different processes.

"Concerning key KPIs for gauging sales and marketing alignment success– revenue growth, lead conversion rate, and customer acquisition cost are amongst the classic ones. To ensure these KPIs truly mirror the impact on revenue and customer satisfaction, I recommend organizations to use tools that track customer lifecycle value and provide a holistic view of the customer journey." Will Yang, Head of Growth & Customer Success at Instrumentl

The new sales-marketing relationship should be guided by shared metrics, which reveal an organization's data agility and ability to hand off real-time data insights. Shared metrics encapsulate the state of the current relationship, alignment initiatives, collaboration technology, and outcomes. They keep everyone on the same page and determine how to redefine the relationship.

3. Prioritize the Right Buyers with Account Scoring 

When you’re scoring leads based on their interest in your business, their current place in the buying cycle, and their demographic fit, you can ensure that your sales reps are talking to the right leads at the right time. Your marketing and sales teams should get together to determine score thresholds—at what score does a lead get sent to sales?

Scoring accounts also helps the marketing and sales team prioritize "sales-ready" accounts and work together to target a focused pool of targets as opposed to casting a wide, uncertain net.

Snowflake has a “one team GTM” with an account-based marketing strategy that combines intent data, personalized touchpoints, and collaboration between sales and marketing teams. This strategy has been successful in targeting and engaging key accounts.

▶️Check out our latest guide on Account Scoring here

3. Promote Clear Communication and Collaboration

Ensuring collaboration doesn't mean creating a Slack channel with SDRs and marketers or sending each other multiple links. There are many ways you can nurture a good relationship between both teams. Some ideas include:

  • Joint meetings and training sessions
  • A day where marketing shadows the sales team and vice versa
  • Collaborative exercises where the teams work together

"A specific initiative that yielded remarkable results at Synthesis AI Studio was our 'Customer Journey Mapping' exercise, where sales and marketing collaboratively analyzed and mapped out the entire customer journey, leading to a more cohesive customer experience strategy.

Our pivotal moment was when we restructured our approach to product launches. By involving both sales and marketing from the inception stage, we ensured that marketing strategies were in sync with sales objectives. This alignment led to one of our most successful product launches, with a 40% increase in lead conversion rates." Oliver Goodwin, Founder & CEO at Synthesis

4. Use Technology to Bridge the Gap

You must build a solid tech stack to manage your data and progress toward your smarketing goals. Here’s how Factors can help you propel sales and marketing alignment in your organization:

Factors.ai

▶️Check out how Factors.ai helped Klenty increase conversions by 34%

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6. Ensure Consistency In Your Messaging

Unclear messaging creates a subpar brand experience–and hampers win rates. Both sales and marketing should understand and reinforce your product's value proposition. 

Your messaging must fall into three sections:

  • What we do;
  • How we do it;
  • Why do we do it.
The Golden Circle

When what, how, and why are aligned, you have a filter to help you make marketing and sales decisions about your core message. 

"There was one time that our sales and marketing team used different messaging. Once we noticed that, we created this guidebook for a shared language and developed a unified messaging framework. This involved joint workshops to ensure that marketing materials and sales pitches were aligned. Now, we come up with consistent messaging. This has improved customer understanding– we know that as there are as we've observed a drastic reduction in clients seeking confirmation about our offerings." -- Andre Oentoro, CEO of Breadnbeyond

7. Create Useful Sales Enablement Content

Even before talking to a salesperson, a prospect is more than halfway through their buying journey. Marketing teams create lead-generation content and campaigns to drive interest in their services and products.

However, they need in-depth insights from sales on the types of content your prospects care about. Customers aren't impressed by a landing page listing endless features, they want to know how your solution resolves their pain points, and who better to ask about customer pain points than your sales team? 

What customer need

Encourage your marketing team members to shadow sales calls. While time-consuming, the exercise can provide customer insights for marketing initiatives and new content ideas. Marketing can also suggest improvements to sales call scripts.

Meanwhile, your sales team can also suggest new content ideas. If there's an urgent need for a content piece, request marketing to prioritize the subject in the content calendar.

8. Create a Systematic Process for Working With Leads

Sales and marketing operate on two different levels, with marketers focusing only on obtaining MQLs and sales focusing on closing SQLs. When you have multiple funnels and lead nurturing processes, both teams operate at different paces toward different goals.

Marketing and Sales - Then and Now

Consider these aspects when reworking your process of working with leads: 

Routing: Where do the leads go between marketing and sales? 

Priority: What's the order in which we reach out to our leads?

Timing: How quickly should you reach out to prospects, how often, and over what timeframe? 

For example, leads from review or comparison websites can be contacted within two hours, while leads from lead gen forms can be contacted within six hours. 

It is also crucial to know at what stage each team must engage with the lead to avoid bombarding customers with information overload. To help divide engagement responsibilities between sales and marketing teams, you can use a "Fit & Intent" matrix.

Fit and Intent
  • Fit is how well your product solves the needs of the customer.
  • Intent is how motivated your prospect is to invest in your product

Here's the breakdown of how marketing and sales can handle each lead according to each quadrant:

Low fit, low intent: This area focuses on nurturing leads, which can be handled by either marketing or sales, depending on the lead source. 

Low fit, high intent: A lead in this quadrant wants more information to gauge if your product can help them. The marketing team has primary responsibility here, with support from sales as required.

High fit, low intent: This quadrant needs joint ownership and support from marketing and sales. Examples of this can include MoFU content, sharing pricing plans, or demo calls with sales representatives.

High fit, high intent: A lead in this quadrant is ready to buy, so it's time for sales to own the process and drive the conversion.

Align Your Sales and Marketing Team Today

Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is B2B sales and marketing alignment. Only when sales and marketers work from the ground up to collaborate and understand their buyers while focusing on providing value to prospects – can you see tangible results. 

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