I’ve written about the importance of sales and marketing alignment before, but the point can’t be understated: businesses undeniably have better success when they align sales and marketing teams.
Plus, having strong alignment between sales and marketing is mutually beneficial for both teams — in fact, sales and marketing alignment can help your company become 67% better at closing deals, and can help generate 209% more revenue from marketing.
If you’re anything like me, however, it’s likely helpful to learn through example. Which is why we’ve reached out to eight brands to learn how they mastered marketing and sales alignment.
I’d encourage you to use the following examples as inspiration for your own process as you work to better align your teams, but remember — marketing and sales alignment will be unique to each individual company.
For that reason, you’ll find the most benefit from this post if you pick-and-choose from these strategies which aspects feel most authentic to your own company culture and business goals.
Let’s dive in!
Robert Moore, Co-Founder and CEO at Crossbeam, told me: “At Crossbeam, we’ve rolled out company-wide OKRs that change each quarter and can be measured using sales, marketing, and product data from HubSpot.”
He adds, “Everyone at Crossbeam has access to dashboards that update in real-time with our progress toward these key results, and our progress also auto-posts to Slack each morning to keep people in the loop and drive discussions around progress. This keeps the company on the same page and aligned on what matters most.”
Key Takeaway: Ultimately, for strong marketing and sales alignment, it’s critical both teams share key metrics and can iterate on their alignment based on which metrics are exceeding expectations, and which ones are falling short.
Jignesh Shah, CEO of Rybbon, says his company shifted its mindset to create better alignment between sales and marketing: “At Rybbon, instead of a marketing to sales funnel, we believe in a marketing to sales circle. Marketing campaigns are launched and supported by coordinated sales follow-up. Sales and marketing meet weekly to discuss the results of these campaigns and ultimately evaluate their effectiveness. Sales’ feedback to marketing then helps to guide decisions on what campaigns to do next.”
“The circle process keeps sales and marketing teams aligned and results-driven.”
Key Takeaway: To create your own circle process, consider how you might bake weekly or monthly sales and marketing collaborations into your company culture. Ultimately, both teams should feel comfortable working with one another on a regular basis for true, sustainable company alignment.
Hannah Shain, Director of Marketing at SmartBug Media, told me her team has directly tied its marketing goals with revenue targets to ensure both teams stay aligned and on-track: “Our campaigns and content calendar are directly aligned to revenue targets, resulting in an average of 17.4% increase month-over-month in inbound-qualified sales leads that convert to qualified pipeline at an average rate of 47.73%.”
She continues, “Additionally, our sales team is seeing instant benefits in their HubSpot Sequences. The marketing content being produced is directly on target with their outreach, landing them meetings on the first touch.”
Key Takeaway: To truly motivate and inspire both teams to work together, consider how you might create intersection in key business metrics. For instance, perhaps you tie revenue back to your marketing goals, to ensure marketers stay on-track to serve the same bottom-line goals that matter most to sales, as well.
If your marketing and sales teams are misaligned or don’t communicate well, it might be easy for each team to assign blame when things don’t go as planned.
As Mark Kosoglow, VP of Sales at Outreach, says: “You need to decide not to have a blame-game mindset or culture. When pipeline is viewed as a shared challenge, then it becomes easier to talk about what needs to be done to improve the situation.”
“Sales and marketing is a complex relationship, and assigning blame narrows your ability to create needle-moving solutions.”
Key Takeaway: Create a culture in which your sales and marketing teams feel authentically connected and aligned when it comes to your company’s bottom-line. The more leadership can encourage collaboration over competition, the better.
Ultimately, data analysis is critical for understanding the current level of alignment between sales and marketing goals, and iterating to ensure future alignment success.
Nextiva is fully aware of the importance of data for marketing and sales alignment. As Gaetano DiNardi, Director of Growth Marketing at Nextiva, told me: “At Nextiva, we have a joke: ‘Hey marketing, can we just get one more lead?’ Our lead flow is 100% inbound, but with that arrangement comes a unique set of challenges. Sales can often argue that lead volumes are too low. So we’ll go and fix that by ranking highly in Google for important terms like Business VoIP.”
He adds, “Alternatively, when lead volumes are unquestionably above forecast, then sales will say that the lead sizes are not large enough. So we’ll dig into the data and show them how poor their close rates have been on our largest lead sizes. Eventually, there will be an aha moment among both groups on where the biggest problem exists — but that only happens when you can bring the right data to the conversation.”
“Great alignment between marketing and sales comes down to high-quality data analysis and effective communication with an action plan, and accountability on both sides, in order to solve complex problems.”
Key Takeaway: Bring data into every conversation you have between sales and marketing. To avoid blame, you can use this data to demonstrate where each team might be falling short of helping support the other team’s goals.
To truly align your marketing and sales teams, you’ll want to consider what tools and platforms each team uses. Is there an opportunity to align your tools to enable each team member to visualize how their individual actions are helping or hurting the other team’s goals — and, ultimately, what the experience looks like for the customer?
As Dave Stout, an Inbound Specialist at Bluleadz, explains: “Our ability to maintain alignment between marketing and sales comes down to three elements: Process, communication, and shared ecosystems.”
“We collaboratively create processes that we share and refine together. For example, marketing will help us create sales content, and our sales team refines those content assets over time and shares the results. This ongoing communication about what’s working and what is not working is vital.
We maintain an open communication channel by meeting every week to address friction points, establish action items, and hold each other accountable.”
Stout adds, “The most important tactic we use to stay aligned is sharing an ecosystem. Both of our teams use HubSpot, and we share access to each team’s portal and reporting dashboards. This allows us to have impactful conversations about the quality of leads coming from different channels, enabling us to accurately forecast sales and identify touchpoints we can add throughout the buying process to improve the customer experience.”
Key Takeaway: Choose an ecosystem that offers advanced tools for both sales reps and marketers. The more your teams can align on tools and processes, the easier it will be for your entire company to reach tighter alignment.
In this case study blog post, Steven MacDonald writes about SuperOffice’s experience aligning its own sales and marketing teams.
In 2016, the company chose to bring in Jan Willem Alphenaar, a social selling expert, to instruct the sales team on how to use social media for sales. The sales team shifted their perspective and recognized social media as a tool for capturing B2B sales — not just leads.
As MacDonald writes, “Sales and marketing became much more aligned and now hold frequent meetings to discuss content, campaigns, digital activities and goals – such as what to post online and how often, how to target prospects and build relationships and how to engage with potential customers.”
The results? An increase in business leads by 168%, an increase in social media visits to SuperOffice’s website by 61%, and a business revenue increase of 10% within the first 12 months — with plenty more room to grow.
Key Takeaway: Consider in which aspects of marketing — including social media, blogging, event planning, email, and video — you might ask your sales team to get involved. In this case, the sales team recognized their own power to reach new audiences and convert leads into customers through social media. Your sales reps might have unique opportunities to reach new networks — tap into that.
American Express had a lofty goal: to position itself as a leader in the corporate travel industry.
To make that happen, the company partnered with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and conducted extensive research on the experience of global business travelers.
American Express then established a pilot social selling team, comprised of employees across multiple departments and locations, including sales and marketing.
This team created content based on the research from GBTA — and, while marketing took the lead on creating and distributing that content, the sales team provided customer insight and played a critical role in ensuring the content was customer-centric.
American Express’ corporate travel content hub was undeniably successful — with a reach of more than 100 million publications, over 1,500 page visits, and an increase of 100% engagement rate on LinkedIn.
Key Takeaway: While marketers are critical for conducting customer research and understanding the needs of your audiences and prospects, it’s important for marketers to remember that sales reps are the ones who speak most directly to prospects and customers on a daily basis. Consider how your marketing team might collaborate with sales to leverage that unique customer insight for upcoming campaigns or content launches.
Now that we’ve covered some amazing brands mastering sales and marketing alignment, feel free to take a look at Tried-and-True Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment for a more individualized, step-by-step guide to better alignment.