Organizations have spent years—if not decades—trying to address the lack of alignment (or even misalignment) between the marketing and sales departments. Organizations can thrive when marketing generates leads and sales can close them, but too often goals are not discussed, processes aren’t developed, and the gap between the two departments gets wider.
Not only does this hamper the organization’s growth, it creates animosity between the two departments, reinforcing beliefs in the sales department that marketing people don’t know how to move the needle with a customer and in the marketing department that salespeople are ‘hired guns’ who are going to do what’s best for them. Yet not all hope is lost—by understanding the problem and taking actions to right the ship, you can help the two sides see eye to eye.
The Trillion-Dollar Question: How Can We Align Marketing and Sales?
When sales and marketing is misaligned, companies suffer. According to 101 B2B Marketing and Sales Tips from The B2B Lead, the inability to align sales and marketing is costing businesses over a trillion dollars per year in lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budgets.
The Blame Game in Marketing and Sales Alignment
Both sides are quick to point fingers—marketing will say, “we’re giving you leads and writing your content, what more do you want?” Sales will reply, “most of the content you write isn’t helping us and many of the leads you pass on have gone cold or were never warm.”
That said, both sides have statistics on their side:
- Marketing will argue, “sales reps are ignoring 50% of the leads we pass on,”
- Sales will shoot back, “statistics show that more than half of the marketing materials are useless to the sales process”
- To which marketing will retort, “everything we do is important because the game has changed—the buyer’s journey has a long path and 57% of that journey is completed before sales even talks to a lead. How is it our fault that 79% of our leads never convert to sales?”
- Sales can argue, “because the leads aren’t qualified or nurtured. You can send all the leads you want, but if only 27% of them are qualified, we might as well just keep cold calling.”
This conversation could go on for a while and at the end, both sides will walk away feeling like they are right and the other side is wrong. Marketing will convince themselves that sales is a thing of the past and that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their interaction with the enterprise without interacting with a human. Sales will continue what they’re doing as well, reminding themselves that they will always have a place in the business.
The unhealthy, tense, and pugilistic relationship between the two rolls on while the organization continues to hemorrhage money. Neither will commit to change and both will go about their business.
Two Sides Fighting the Same Problem
Regardless of the animosity that may be present, both sides want the same thing: More customers, higher revenue, and less leakage. For business leaders, it’s up to you to help both sides see this and start working toward a common goal. By demonstrating the importance of alignment, rethinking the processes and workflows, and employing the right technology to facilitate the path from lead to prospect to customer, you can take your sales and marketing from disparate to driven.
Aligning the Sales and Marketing Teams
A recent Microsoft webcast looked to address the problem that exists between the two departments, discussing reasons the two departments are maligned and opportunities to repair the relationship.
Where Alignment is Strong, Where Alignment is Weak
Notably, marketing and sales are well aligned early in the process: 66% find that there is a strong relationship between marketing and sales in defining value proposition, followed by 65% seeing strong connection in identifying target segments and accounts and 62% in defining and executing field programs.
However, it’s the later stages in which the relationship is strained: 49% see a “weak” or “very weak” alignment when reporting the results of joint activity, 46% find trouble in managing customer references and advocates, and 44% see a weakness in sharing knowledge about the customer’s buying process.
Speaking the Same Language
One of the most shocking statistics in the presentation is this: Only 30% of Marketing and Sales organizations have closely aligned metrics. This presents a problem for aligning the two because, according to Forrester’s Kate Leggett, “marketing and sales are marching to two different goals.” In turn, misaligned sales and marketing organizations can’t build or follow a cohesive strategy around the customer or prospect with whom they hope to work.
Speaking to a New Generation of Buyers
While marketing and sales alignment has always been important, making it happen today is more critical than ever. Buyers are more empowered than ever, relying less on the traditional path to purchase than ever and living in a world where information needs to be available when and where they need it. Over the past decade, buyers have become increasingly active in their roles and taken control of the sales process. According to Forrester, 92% of B2B purchases start with search, 90% of executives won’t take a cold call, and more than half of B2B buyers prefer going online to speaking with a salesperson.
The pressure is on marketers and salespeople to provide not only the right information at the right time, but the right amount of information as well. 60% of respondents found that vendors give prospective buyers too much information and 54% of potential buyers find much of the material “useless.” This requires sales and marketing to communicate, finding out what’s important to buyers and communicating this information at the right time.
Beyond Features and Functions
Any buyer can read and understand specs, features, and functions—what they really want to know, however, is how a product is going to satisfy their needs. Again, the pressure is on the marketing and sales teams to work together to understand the buyer’s business and provide a vision for how their product or service will satisfy the customer. By the time a buyer reaches out to a salesperson, they already understand the basics of the product, but need to hear what the seller is going to do for them. According to Forrester, buyers are looking for the following four traits from their salesperson:
- Integrates customized data and insights
- Teaches the buyer something they don’t already know
- Demonstrates how a product or service will change the way the buyer does business
- Listens to the customer and talks about the customer’s problem
The entire webcast digs into more challenges and opportunities in aligning marketing and sales to correct the course, become more customer obsessed, and minimize revenue leakage with a consistent sales and marketing plan. Watch the webcast here.
The Right Technology is a Major Piece of Marketing and Sales Alignment
Alignment (or lack thereof) affects everyone in the business from the department level all the way up to the C-Suite. With 82% of Chief Marketing Officers finding their compensation directly tied to revenue growth, compensation for salespeople tied to sales and marketing budgets tied to revenue, everyone benefits when the two departments get along. While this problem has been a challenge for years or even decades,
Microsoft Dynamics 365 has become a leading option for businesses looking to improve relationships with leads, prospects, and customers. Designed to provide visibility and automation, Dynamics 365 facilitates the path from lead to customer and provides both marketing and sales the information they need—when they need it. While it may not be the only step you take to aligning the two departments, finding and implementing the right technology may be one of the biggest steps you can take to bring the two closer together. Learn more about Dynamics 365 for Marketing and Dynamics 365 for Sales.
Ready to learn more about the software options for your business? Contact MIBAR for a free consultation.