This Week’s Big Deal: Coming Together in 2020

January 13, 2020

I have a feeling that this is the year. At long last, sales and marketing teams across the world will finally reach a state of harmonious balance. The long-standing divide will evaporate, giving way to seamless orchestration of efforts.

Why the optimism? Maybe it’s because 2020 seems to represent this type of synchronicity — two identical figures beside one another as mirror images. Maybe it’s because the progressive build-up of alignment narratives in recent years is reaching a tipping point. 

Mainly, I think it’s just because the urgency of this initiative is now unignorable. B2B organizations widely recognize the benefits, as well as the detriments of discord and dysfunction. Improving collaboration between these two critical units is a worthy goal for any company in the year ahead.

With that in mind, let’s explore some practical ways to bring about the convergence, courtesy of the latest trending sales content on the web.

How to Achieve B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment This Year

From goals to documentation to planning and beyond, here’s where top thinkers in sales and marketing are setting their gaze when it comes to driving alignment.

Set Goals and Objectives in Tandem

One of the biggest historical barriers for sales and marketing alignment is that the departments are held to different standards, and measured against different objectives or metrics. This disconnect can create internal competition, and even contention.

“A cohesive set of goals for both departments to work toward can further increase the likelihood of achieving your revenue goals,” writes Christa Tuttle in her recent contribution for Business 2 Community on How to Bring Your B2B Marketing and Sales Teams Together. She calls out prospecting as a key area where shared goals can lead to improved results.

Consider a Service Level Agreement

An internal SLA is essentially a documentation of processes and practices, designed to bring consistency and direction to your operations. “SLAs often include information such as ideal client profile, lead definitions, goals and how to track or measure progress,” writes Tuttle, adding that it can help with closed-loop reporting and critical information sharing.

Tuttle observes that, according to research from HubSpot, 85% of organizations with an SLA believe their marketing strategy is effective, compared to 26% of those without. 

“SLAs are a great tool for smoothing the handoff from marketing to sales,” Tuttle adds. “For example, processes are set up to determine an expected follow up timeline for MQLs that have been passed on to sales.”

Travel Together

Jeff Davis is one of the foremost experts on sales and marketing alignment; he literally wrote the book on it, and his insightfulness on the topic places him among the sales influencers we highly recommend following

Earlier this month on his blog, he listed 11 Conferences that B2B Marketing and Sales Leaders Should Plan on Attending Together in 2020. Several were also listed on our rundown of upcoming sales conferences, but naturally, Davis’s list features a more marketing-centric slant. Attending such events can be quite valuable for sales pros, who can gain a first-hand grasp on what’s happening in that world. Joining a marketing colleague for the trip builds camaraderie, while helping make the learnings and networking more valuable. 

Develop On-Demand Services

The trend isn’t going to change: Customers want to be able to engage and communicate with your company on their terms, and that means creating accessible touch points outside of the sales team. In his breakdown of Six B2B Sales Development Trends to Watch in 2020, Concept Services president Jeff Harsh offers this advice: Be Available when Users are on Your Website with Chat Services.

“Not only does having chat on your website provide another means of capturing leads and engagement,” he writes, “but also allows for more real-time conversation outside of phone and email with prospects.”

Chat functionality on your website is a good idea for these reasons and more, but it’s also worth thinking about other ways you can be available to prospects and customers through emerging tools, technology, and ad formats. Conversation Ads on LinkedIn, set to roll out this year, will provide another avenue for creating productive and meaningful dialogues even when a human rep isn’t available. 

Form Plans in Unison

If you’re trying to connect the sales and marketing departments after plans have been set and strategy is underway, it may already be too late. Collaboration should begin at the planning stage, as veteran business executive Gary Carandang suggests in his recent Q&A on aligning sales and marketing with Josiah Go

“An integrated planning process,” Carandang asserts, “becomes even more important in terms of alignment and integration and in ensuring that resources (brand, advertising and trade budgets) are allocated appropriately to the critical sales and marketing activities.”

This connected approach should carry over into execution as well: “There has to be a clear and documented sign off of both groups on the plans and that the implementation and results are reviewed together and adjustments are made together as well. This is to keep both groups informed and [receiving] feedback on what is working or not. Having shared KPI also works including the rewards and recognition that goes with it.” 

Come Together in 2020

It’s been almost exactly 50 years since The Beatles released one of their most memorable hits, “Come Together,” in October of 1969. Here in 2020, let’s all heed that sage advice and do what it takes to help sales and marketing come together over strategic business development endeavors. There may be no greater singular key to success for growth-minded B2B organizations.  

You’re not alone on this journey. All year long, we’ll continue to serve up guidance on orchestrating your efforts and taking advantage of powerful collaborative tools on LinkedIn. Together, let’s end the age-old sales and marketing divide.

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