Today’s post is by Tracy Eiler, chief marketing officer at InsideView and author of Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth.
The topic of sales and marketing alignment is a raging trend for B2B companies. Everyone from Marketo to the American Marketing Association to Oracle to Forbes is writing about it – and that’s just on the first page of search results!
But the topic’s trendiness should be seen less as a sign of a fad and more as a sign of the growing importance of finding an edge against more savvy competitors and increasingly-intelligent buyers. The fact is misalignment causes companies to miss out on 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability, according to SiriusDecisions, and can cost you 10 percent of your revenue, according to IDC. And those are just a few of the many negative effects of misalignment.
When sales and marketing are misaligned, they independently focus on myopic goals. Sales looks at individual deals, while marketing looks at pulling in many new leads. Marketing focuses on macro industry content, while sales has to engage with many different stakeholder roles involved in a single opportunity. That misalignment leads to distrust and misplaced blame – taking every eye off of company growth.
Finding and closing a deal ain’t as easy as it used to be, for sure. B2B sales has changed dramatically in even just the past few years. Technology has put every detail of your product (and your competitors’) literally into the hands of every buyer and decision maker. Customer reviews and analyst opinions are just a tap away, and both sales and marketing are on the offensive to get ahead of competitors and find, engage with, and win over skeptical buyers.
But, when sales and marketing work together – when they use common systems, processes, and data; and when their goals are aligned – your efforts become exponentially more powerful.
As part of the research for a recent book on alignment I co-authored, we conducted a market survey of nearly 1,000 sales and marketing professionals. We asked one question that captured both the essence of misalignment and the first step toward alignment: How often do you meet with the other team to discuss pipeline? Three-quarters of sales said less than quarterly, while three-quarters of marketing said monthly or more!
Misalignment is caused by this type of misperception, and the solution is, obviously, communication. And therein lies the first step toward alignment: schedule a meeting with your counterpart to discuss shared goals, metrics, and data. Oh, and make it a recurring meeting.
At InsideView, we have a “Smarketing Meeting” every other week to keep sales and marketing on the same page. We cover upcoming campaigns and events, review recent campaign results, and discuss how leads are performing and where reps are having challenges. It’s also a “no blame” zone, where we spend time focusing on solutions instead of the root cause of the issue.
Is alignment as simple as scheduling a meeting? Absolutely not. It takes a coordinated, executive-driven, company-wide effort. But first you have to begin the discussion. Only then can you get moving on your growth-driving path to sales and marketing alignment.