Sales & Marketing (SaMa) Alignment is getting more airplay in the world of B2B, especially with the drive to Account-Based Marketing. Definitions vary widely, but mine is:
Sales & Marketing Alignment joins Sales and Marketing at the hip via shared goals, KPIs and pipeline development processes to grow revenue.
To me, the keywords are goals and KPIs. The CEO who assigns shared targets to the CMO and Head of Sales, along with a strong recommendation to ‘align’, provide impetus towards success. These targets can cover a range of areas but, ultimately, aligning pipeline metrics is the key.
Traditionally, B2B CMOs carry responsibility for the upper funnel – contact database quality and growth, website visitors, social media interaction and content engagement – while Sales takes care of follow-up and converting leads into new customers. Aligned SaMa executives share the middle and bottom of the funnel.Read an in-depth discussion of Sales & Marketing Alignment in my Ebook The ROI from Sales & Marketing Alignment (and what best practice looks like!)
How do I align sales and marketing?
- The CMO is accountable for generating leads for X% of revenue
- Both the Head of Sales and the CMO share the MQL-to-SQL conversion target (marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead)
- Both share the total revenue result
Shared goals will drive the behaviours you’d expect from a high-performance SaMa team. In the Green Hat/AMI B2B Marketing Research Report, we found that only 43% of B2B marketers are getting satisfactory lead follow-up by Sales. A fully aligned SaMa team will need to have an established lead management process with a ‘closed-loop’ reporting and feedback mechanism so that both can work together in perfect harmony.
Why Sales & Marketing Alignment is important for B2B organisations? (aka ‘Show me the Money!’)
Well aligned teams are more strategic and organised around the generation and management of better quality lead and revenue outcomes. Research (and common sense) tells us that the more effective this alignment, the less wastage of time, energy and potential revenue – and the higher the ROI from both Sales and Marketing effort. In short, SaMa alignment improves B2B revenues.
In its 2016 Sales Effectiveness research, SiriusDecisions found that well-aligned organisations had 19% faster revenue growth and 15% more profit, representing a significant competitive advantage over those who are not.
Aberdeen states in its 2016 research report Marketing and Sales Alignment: Who is Agile Enough to Win? that firms who’d optimised Sales and Marketing relationships grew revenue 38% faster than those who hadn’t – about double that reported by SiriusDecisions. Regardless of the size of the number, SaMa alignment has proven a significant impact on revenue growth.
What if Sales and Marketing are NOT aligned?
Another important point to highlight is how misalignment can be experienced by your customers and prospects. The effect of misalignment is harder to measure than pipeline and financial outcomes but an unaligned company will see a clear impact on both – if it’s looking.
Aligned sales and marketing teams are more likely to effectively engage the buyer, without overlap or conflict across communications and messaging. Both teams are reading from the same song sheet, delivering the right insight content and offers at the right time. Sales will be more consultative and advisory in their approach, while Marketing will deliver personalised and timely thought leadership and insights to each buyer segment. This enables Sales to maintain the discussion when the time comes for face-to-face prospect engagement.
Especially now, when B2B buyers are researching purchasing options widely online and shaping decisions before even instigating contact with potential suppliers, SaMa alignment has become a critical success factor. Working together on mutual, shared goals is the ultimate – and only – way to go.
- Outcomes of our pulse survey with five Australian CMOs on SaMa alignment
- Five key steps to effective alignment
- The importance of CRM and Marketing Automation Program (MAP) integration