This article originates from a panel discussion at the Revenue Marketing Summit in London, 2022. Job titles and companies are correct as of the time of recording.
It's no secret that a well-aligned sales and marketing team can be the driving force behind a company's success. But how do you navigate the benefits and challenges of uniting these two powerhouse departments?
We recently gathered four marketing experts to share their insights in an engaging panel discussion:
🌟 Radmila (a.k.a. Mila) Blazheska, CMO of SecurityHQ,
🌟 Marina Pape, Head of Country Marketing UK at Mollie,
🌟 Alun Swift, Head of Revenue Operations at Ably, and
🌟 James White, Director of EMEA Partnerships at Klaviyo
In this article, we'll dive into the key takeaways from these industry leaders as they discuss:
- The benefits of close alignment between sales and marketing,
- Strategies for creating cohesion between the teams,
- The importance of open communication, and
- Practical steps you can start implementing today to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.
So, grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we explore the secrets to successful sales and marketing alignment, straight from the experts themselves.
The benefits of close alignment between sales and marketing
There's always a little bit of friction between the two teams, but it's all about balance. I always use the marriage analogy: sales and marketing teams are like a married couple and if there's no love, you end up with a very hefty divorce bill.
To achieve true alignment, you need to merge your metrics. Obviously, marketing and sales always have different KPIs, but if both teams have one set of KPIs – let's say around company revenue – and you work towards that in your annual targets, then it's clear what both teams need to achieve.
The benefit of that alignment is company growth. If you have one set of revenue goals ahead of you, and both teams are trying to achieve that, the company will grow, teams will grow, revenue will grow, and you will grow as well.
So it's about being aligned on common goals and working towards the same thing. Marina, what's your take on that?
If you don't have alignment, it creates a lot of friction, which creates drag and reduces productivity. To echo what Mila said, if your sales and marketing functions are working together, you get more than just those two halves put together – you get impact and happier, more productive teams.
From a sales perspective, James, what are some of the benefits for sales of having that close alignment with marketing?
From what I’ve seen, having a marketing function that's able to drive leads that sales teams understand and know what to do with is the main benefit on the sales side. Incentives aside, generally, a sales team is trying to convert leads into opportunities and revenue.
The biggest breakdowns come when there's a huge number of leads, but sales teams aren’t aware that they’ve entered the funnel or where they are in the funnel.
Another common issue that I've had to deal with in the past is what seems like a good problem to have – too many leads – but unfortunately, there’s been a lack of understanding about how to reach out to them and move them down the funnel.
That creates a lot of frustration. You've got marketing saying, “We've done this great job getting you all these leads – why aren’t you converting them?”
Meanwhile, sales don’t have enough information about these leads so they feel like they’re reaching out blindly. Flipping that on its head, which is way harder than it sounds, is something everyone should be striving for.
Let's say I'm a salesperson. When I'm reaching out to a lead that's come from an event, I want to know what they've done before, why they attended, who they talked to there, their market size, and if I'm even allowed to sell to them.
That's the kind of cohesion we need. Tactically, marketing should be prepping the BDR team or the sales team with a cheat sheet or some kind of notes in the lead scoring tool.
Those little pieces are really important, and I think a lot of people forget to join the dots. Like in any marketing, context is everything, and salespeople need just as much context as the billboard ad or whatever it is you're doing at the top funnel level.
With insights from expert contributors, actionable advice/guidance, and example frameworks, our playbook has everything you need to get your marketing and sales teams truly aligned. 👇
How to create cohesion between sales and marketing teams
Something that's worked really well for us to bring that cohesion was working on our attribution model. We’ve worked hard to strike a balance between last-click direct attribution and marketing showing up as an influence on certain leads coming in.
I think if you can set that up and educate your teams so everybody understands the role that marketing plays and knows that they can trust the attribution model, it's going to show up in different activities appropriately.
That goes a long way toward improving communication, showing the impact that marketing has, and creating a sense of fairness. You want to have that transparency. You also need to keep updating your attribution model as you learn more.
I absolutely agree with Marina. I would just add something that has worked for us in the past: training – not just training the marketing teams on what the sales process is about, but showing them the end goal and how to enable and help sales teams.