Jan 2021
Sales and marketing teams are a company’s lifeblood for lead generation, sales, revenue, and overall growth. However, these often siloed teams compete for recognition, consideration, budget dollars, and even bragging rights.
 
As buyer attitudes and behaviours change, marketing and sales teams must work together to support a revenue cycle that aligns with the buyer’s journey: the process a buyer goes through from being aware of a brand to considering them by consuming their online content before finally making a buying decision.
 
This means that now more than ever, sales representatives must rely on marketers to produce inbound marketing methodologies to inform valuable content so they can attract, engage, and convert prospects into ready buyers. 
 
Sales and marketing alignment statistics show that tightly aligned organizations are 67% better at closing deals, and can help generate 209% more revenue from marketing.
 
Pro tip: Ensure that the content you provide to website visitors is balanced: equal parts marketing of Top of the Funnel (ToFu) content such as blogs, how-tos, and educational guides and sales content such as presentations, demos, and customer testimonials.
 
This article covers what sales and marketing alignment is, its three most common symptoms, and how to realign your teams in just three easy steps. Plus, you'll learn to calculate sales-marketing alignment so you can monitor your progress and set goals to enhance collaboration.

What is Sales and Marketing Alignment?

Sales and marketing alignment or “smarketing” is defined as effective communication between a company’s sales and marketing teams whereby both teams work in collaboration with another to achieve the shared goal of revenue growth and increased client satisfaction. 

Why is Sales and Marketing Alignment Important?

Despite having common goals including the profitability and performance of the company as a whole, these teams often operate separately and have competing compensation strategies that cause misalignment. Misalignment results in serious inefficiencies, lost productivity, and declines in revenue growth that cost companies millions.
 

Three Signs and Solutions for Sales and Marketing Misalignment

Sign #1: Your sales force lacks motivation.

Potential Risk: Misaligned goals disempower and demotivate sales teams causing declines in sales and revenues.
 
Sales teams lose faith in their organization when they can't understand marketing decisions that impact the way they close deals such as product pricing. Marketing teams may be looking to establish and compensate for brand equity, while sales teams perceive this to be an unnecessary obstacle they need to overcome with potential prospects.
 
Misalignment manifests in the different and sometimes conflicting metrics used to measure success among individual teams. For example, if your marketing team is only focussed on MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) without considering how the MQL's are converting into SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads), then the two teams will experience a disconnect.
 
Solution: Identify shared success metrics.
 
While both teams are responsible for different stages of the revenue cycle, they must work together by sharing the same company-wide Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and Objectives and Key Results (OKR). To do this effectively, you'll need to outline a strategy to set and track collaborative goals.
 
Give employees access to company-wide, regularly updated OKRs so that both marketing and sales teams alike can see, communicate, and use their team's efforts and individual KPI's to bring the company closer to its goals. Take it even further by creating a Slack channel to discuss goal progress and team achievements. By collaborating frequently, your teams will have the opportunity to share learning outcomes that promote cross-functionality and optimized performance.
 

Sign #2: Leads are getting lost and unleveraged. 

Potential Risk: Your company loses revenue on lost leads, on top of the cost of acquisition for every lead wasted.
 
If your marketing and sales teams don’t strategize, share and seamlessly hand off leads to each other as a unified entity, qualified high-value prospects get ignored, discarded, and wasted.
 
Solution: Align lead scoring efforts
 
Lead scoring is a methodology that evaluates and ranks the value a prospect has to your organization so you can effectively target the leads most likely to convert. Both marketing and sales teams need to agree on this evaluation. Marketers understand the value of a leads based on their fit to the company's brand and services at the top of the funnel, while sales teams can keenly distinguish if the prospect is a serious and ready buyer at the point of sale. All leads must therefore be analyzed collaboratively by both teams so your business can continue to expand and increase the value of its network.
 
When these two teams listen and operate together, your business is better equipped to determine what needs to be improved within your pipeline in order to secure more high value client relationships so you can grow your business faster. Get started now with our free Lead Scoring Template
 
lead scoring template

Sign #3: Marketing and sales teams are using different platforms. 

Potential Risk: The disconnect between marketing and sales data results in an inconsistent customer experience.
 
Without the means to accurately track and support leads throughout the stages of their customer journey, teams operating on different CRMs are likely to lose valuable data. Without leads source data, you won't be able to measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Without accurate customer records, closing deals will become more difficult.
 
When each team is focused only on their individual goals, immediate opportunities take priority over more sustainable, long-term relationships. The outcome? A poor and disjointed customer experience that could ultimately drive prospects away.
 
Solution: Align systems and technology for a consistent customer experience
 
Streamline your lead acquisition process using an all-in-one platform like Hubspot where sales and marketing teams work in tandem to attract, educate, engage, and delight unique website visitors. By getting your team on the same page (and CRM), you'll enable a smoother transition from Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) into Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). When your teams nurture customers in unison, you'll improve your overall customer experience and start converting customers into brand ambassadors.
 
HubSpot all in one sales and marketing platform

How to Calculate Your Sales and Marketing Alignment

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to learn how to monitor, evaluate and optimize your sales and marketing alignment for sustainable long-term growth. Sales and marketing teams must work together to determine the criteria for MQLs and SQLs to ensure a successful hand-off. A great way to evaluate alignment is measuring the conversion rate between these two pillars of qualification.
 
Assess your team alignment by tracking how many MQL’s are sent over to sales, and how many of them are deemed well-qualified as a SQL by your sales team. This should help you understand the quality of leads marketing is sending to sales from the top to the bottom of the funnel. We recommend setting your sights high with a goal of a 30% conversion rate, but with the industry average coming in at 13%, anything above 10% is a great starting point.
 
MQL to SQP conversion rate formula
 
You can also look at how many MQL’s are sent back as unqualified or in need of further nurturing to identify opportunities for improvement in your sales-marketing relationship.

Tips and Reminders for Sales and Marketing Alignment 

  • Share success metrics and regularly update all employees with their progress. This will unite all teams to increase productivity and revenue growth
  • Unify marketing and sales teams by encouraging them to collaborate on lead scoring by listening to each other regarding the level of qualification and quality of incoming leads
  • Align the systems and platforms your marketing and sales teams use to avoid any disconnects in the flow of communication and productivity
  • Calculate your sales and marketing alignment by keeping track of how many MQLs become SQLs for your business. This encompasses your MQL to SQL conversion rate (shoot for a 10-30% your conversion rate!)
Need a push to get your teams on the same page? Use our free Lead Scoring Template to identify your most promising leads, so that marketers can nurture effectively and sales teams can close efficiently.