3 Tips for Boosting Sales and Marketing Alignment

May 10, 2018

sales and marketing conferring together

Editor’s Note: This post is based on an interview conducted by Ernan Roman, President, ERDM Corp. The interview originally appeared on the Data & Marketing Association blog. Jennifer Brett will be delivering a presentation, “Measure What Matters: Sales and Marketing Alignment to Drive Results,” at the DMA’s 2018 Marketing and Analytics Conference, which will held May 16-18 in Atlanta.

Marketing and sales alignment is often presented as an unalloyed good, one that few people question. While that viewpoint is almost certainly true in the marketing department, it’s not as true for the sales team.

The truth is sales often questions the value of marketing and asks what marketing spend actually delivers for them. At LinkedIn, we partner closely with B2B marketers, and many believe that they are under fire to demonstrate that marketing drives revenue. In short, they’re trying to prove to their sales counterparts that they are not a cost center.

To prove their value to sales, marketers need to demonstrate what they bring to the table in tangible terms. Ultimately, sales and marketing alignment isn’t primarily about sales or marketing: It’s first and foremost about customers and creating a more seamless experience for them.

When sales and marketing are aligned, it increases the probability of more accurate targeting, which leads to more relevant advertising for the customers — long before sales reaches out to them. This targeted messaging leads to more efficient distribution of marketing material that can support a customer in their buyer journey. This approach, in turn, drives more qualified leads for sales and ultimately drives incremental revenue.

3 Steps to Getting Aligned

Even when sales and marketing alignment is agreed upon as a goal, on both sides of the equation — marketing and sales — there is uncertainty about how to achieve it. Here are three tips for boosting sales and marketing alignment in your organization.

Align on strategy

Salespeople look at their world in terms of individuals and accounts; marketing thinks about broader target audiences. At LinkedIn, our data shows that quite often, sales and marketing are not even aligned on who they are talking to! Frequently, a high percentage of the leads that sales is contacting have never been touched by marketing.

But there is hope: the rise of account-based marketing offers an opportunity to drive better strategic alignment. ABM acts as a forcing function for sales and marketing to come together and agree on a strategically-selected list of accounts to target and the important individuals within those accounts. Using an ABM approach, marketing focuses its messaging on reaching key accounts, which can range from a handful to hundreds to thousands, which in the end reduces waste and drives more qualified leads to sales.

When ABM is fully implemented, sales also receives better support from marketing across the full buying committee. A solid ABM program will enable marketing to reach everyone that sales needs to influence, rather than targeting a single audience segment.

Align on measurement

Vanity metrics, like clicks and engagements, are of no value to sales. And while they do offer directional guidance on marketing performance, they are in the end a poor way to measure marketing effectiveness. To achieve closer alignment with their sales counterparts, marketing must embrace metrics that are traditionally associated with sales — such as deals-closed and revenue generated. Marketers must track the performance of the leads they generate to the end of the sales funnel. This is harder to do than collecting CTR metrics, but it provides tangible results — and, of course, brings marketing closer to sales. By looking for signals from those successful leads, marketing can improve its strategic relationship with sales and drive more efficiency.

Align on data

To truly achieve alignment with sales, marketers must get access to the necessary data and not end with the tech stack they use. For sales and marketing to truly work together, marketers need to be connected to the sales CRM. This connection enables marketing leads to be tracked from the upper funnel through to the lower funnel. By tracking leads in this fashion, marketing and sales can analyze their value and calculate ROI. Ensuring the right talent — going beyond traditional creatives to hire left-brained individuals comfortable with data analysis — is in place to navigate CRM data and analyze outcomes is also key for marketing to complete its alignment with the says team.

Following these three tips will enable marketing to answer the perennial sales question: “What has marketing done for me lately?

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