This Week’s Big Deal: A Unified Sales and Marketing Front

August 19, 2019

Last week, the first-ever B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange took place in Boston, converging leaders and innovators from a variety of different verticals (mostly tech-related) under a simple central message: “Better Together.” 

The conference and its theme drove straight to the heart of a key challenge for organizations across the business spectrum: cohesive alignment. When units or departments are disconnected, it can take a costly toll on the customer experience, along with operational efficiency. 

Bridging the age-old sales and marketing divide presents a prime opportunity for working better together in a way that makes a real impact on our results. 

Overlooked Opportunities for Sales and Marketing Alignment

In general, B2B companies seem to be a lot stronger with sales and marketing orchestration than they were two years ago. It would seem like more businesses are making it a priority, 

But when you compare “sales marketing alignment” with a term like, say, “sales enablement” on Google Trends over the past five years, you don’t find the same growth in interest.

In most organizations, there are opportunities to improve the collaboration between these critical units. To that end, we’ll take a trip through some of the past week’s top trending sales content, kicking off with a recap of some compelling takeaways from B2BSMX.

Sales and Marketing Alignment Takes Center Stage in Boston

The Demand Gen Report team put together a recap of B2BSMX, calling out organizational alignment and optimized revenue engines as the prevalent themes. They also touched on a few sessions from the event, with these two standing out from a sales perspective:

  • Sangram Vajre of Terminus delivered the opening keynote in which he argued that “ABM is B2B.” The cross-functional fundamentals of account-based marketing are very much in tune with the alignment directive. “ABM is not a tool or tactic,” he argued. “It’s a way to build a strategy for your organization where you can win … It’s not just about marketing. It’s marketing and sales working together.”  

  • Forrester’s Kerry Cunningham suggested in his session that too many automation and CRM systems are geared toward individuals and not buying groups. “We call this ‘Buying Group Blindness,’” he remarked. “In other words, your systems and processes can't see that there's a buying group on your website consuming your content and paying attention. This is a big problem.” Here’s what we had to say about the topic: Overcoming the challenge of expanding buying committees.

Coordinate to Optimize the Company Website

At CMSWire, Dom Nicastro writes that making B2B company websites more customer-friendly is a key opportunity. Naturally, this is more of a marketing responsibility than sales, but when your website is coming up short it can have a significant negative impact on our ability to sell. Among Nicastro’s suggestions:

  • Sharpen up technical aspects and fix issues that might hurt traction with Google

  • Avoid featuring client testimonials that are not truly authentic

  • Create personalized sales pages (sellers can often provide useful input in this process)

Cut Out Channel Confusion

“56% of buyers now feel there’s a gap between traditional B2B buying experiences and their evolving needs,” according to Oracle’s Graham McInnes on the SmarterCX blog. He lists five ways to tell if your B2B sales processes are broken, with one being channel confusion.

This problem can arise from “sales channel inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and confusion resulting from outdated print catalogs or misunderstandings of customer requirements, leading to decreased sales effectiveness and lost business opportunities.” If this sounds familiar in any way, it’s probably a good time to touch base with your marketers and ensure all content (print or digital) is consistent and accurate.

Rally Around the Same Metrics

One frequent culprit in misalignment between sales and marketing is contrasting objectives and metrics. When you’re using different scorecards, you’re not working toward the same things. Joydeep Bhattacharya writes at e27 about marketing KPIs that directly impact sales growth. These include monthly recurring revenue (MRR), customer lifetime revenue (CLR), and average sales cycle (ASC). 

Loop the CFO into the Sales Team

One way to align departments and find new synergies: Sal Rehmetullah makes the case at Forbes that CFOs belong on the sales team

“Your sales team, no matter the size, needs to be aligned with finance and the companywide goals for the year,” he writes. “A CFO is the right person at your company to keep that alignment straight. They understand the market opportunity and what needs to happen to capture enough of that market.”

Take Advantage of New Features in Sales Navigator

Appropriately enough, LinkedIn announced Q3 feature rollouts for Sales Navigator last week that are very much focused on bringing sales and marketing closer together. These include:

  • LinkedIn Elevate alerts in Sales Navigator

  • The ability to quickly save leads while connecting 

  • New sorting options for your Custom Lists

  • List sharing enhancements

  • Increased search limits

  • Active Status indicators in Sales Navigator

  • A redesigned help center

Improve Your Alignment and Grow Your Business

If you feel your organization is tightly aligned when it comes to sales and marketing, congratulations — you’re ahead of the game. If you feel there’s room for improvement, you’re certainly not alone, but there’s no better time to start moving the needle. The guidance above will help chart your course in the right direction.

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