The 3 B2B Sales and Marketing Structural Gaps Hampering Business Growth

August 9, 2018

Art of Winning

According to the The State of Sales & Marketing Alignment in 2018 report, decades in, Sales and Marketing alignment is still an entrenched issue. And companies are paying big time. It’s been estimated misalignment costs companies at least $1 trillion a year in lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget.

But those companies cracking the code on alignment are dancing in the streets. As the report says, the organizations that exceeded revenue goals are 2.3 times more likely to report high levels of alignment than those who fell short of their goals.

So what’s holding the other organizations back? The core of the alignment problem is that Sales and Marketing are built to see the world differently. They consult their own sources for information, and follow different guidance when it comes to their targets and incentives. The good news is that your organization can join the ranks of top performers by understanding and addressing the three key structural gaps in the B2B Sales and Marketing environment.

Marketing and Sales Consult Different Data Sets

It’s no surprise that Sales and Marketing refer to different data sets – they use different technologies and tools to manage and track their activities and interactions with prospects and customers. While marketers use data management platform (DMP) and marketing automation systems, sales groups largely rely on customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

And this lack of shared data is tied for top challenge to alignment in the The State of Sales & Marketing Alignment in 2018 report – up from fourth place in 2016. Let’s face it: the data you consult day in and day out shapes your perspective.

Think of it this way. Marketing’s number-one marching order is to generate and nurture leads. As a result, they’re focused on buying lists and sending large-scale campaigns intended to get prospective buyers to raise their hands and push them down the purchase path. The data that indicates success is response rate and an optimal Cost Per Lead (CPL). Sales is focused on developing relationships with buyers to ultimately drive purchases. Their success is reflected in data around pipeline health, forecasting accuracy, and closed deals. In other words, they speak different languages. Sales talks about pipelines, while marketing talks about funnels.

The fact that CPL is a major marketing measure only exacerbates the alignment issue. CPL isn’t a business objective – it’s a tactic tied to a cost-center mentality. At the end of the day, a low CPL is meaningless if those low-cost leads don’t convert to customers and revenue.

Marketing and Sales See People Through Different Lenses

Simply put, Marketing and Sales have embraced different perspectives of the same world. This goes a long way toward explaining why it seems the two groups are continually butting heads and struggle to get on the same page.

While Marketing is going after a broad demographic audience, Sales is focused on engaging individuals within accounts. Sales sees Jane Doe from Kansas City working at Acme Cold Brew. Marketing sees a millennial brewery manager who lives in a major Midwestern city. The fact that her name is Jane Doe is incidental as far as Marketing is concerned. On average, LinkedIn sees a mere 23% overlap between Sales’ target audience and Marketing’s target audience in the typical B2B organization.

Given their different filters, it’s no wonder opinions diverge in terms of how well the two groups are achieving important goals. As it drives a growing number of leads, Marketing believes it’s exceeding its lead generation goals. Meanwhile, Sales is frustrated at the lack of enough quality leads. In fact, sales folks routinely ignore 80% of marketing-generated leads due to lack of confidence in their colleagues’ methods and information. Plus, both teams are missing out on many opportunities to connect with promising prospects.

If Marketing and Sales don’t see the target audience through the same lens, how can they possibly be aligned? And if they aren’t aligned, how can they serve up a seamless experience to prospective buyers?

Sales and Marketing Aren’t Working in a Coordinated Fashion

Due to these basic differences in how they’re oriented and view their worlds, Sales and Marketing work in parallel rather than in tight collaboration. We’re not saying animosity and adversity are par for the course between the two groups. In fact, many Sales and Marketing teams enjoy a friendly working relationship. They might even meet jointly to discuss and update buyer personas. In fact, they might feel the lead handoff goes smoothly. But that’s often the best it gets…even though there’s potential to do so much better.

While these three disconnects are no small matter, it is possible to close the gaps. And doing so is essential in order to connect with, engage, and convert today’s empowered yet frustrated buyers. By aligning their revenue-generating teams, organizations can deliver indispensable experiences that generate brand love and drive business growth.

For more expert information on how to align your sales and marketing efforts for a seamless customer experience, read our guide Driving Intelligent Customer Experiences