Creating sales and marketing alignment: an Accent starter guide
Learn how to start improving sales processes through stronger sales and marketing collaboration.
So you’ve been told that your sales and marketing teams need to “get aligned.” What does that mean? How do you do that? Why is it important?
Don’t worry: we’re going to tell you. This starter guide covers the basics of sales and marketing alignment, from defining alignment to outlining the tools that make it easy for teams to collaborate together.
Use the buttons below to navigate to different areas of the sales and marketing alignment starter guide:
Before you get into strategies and tools to improve alignment, you should start with the basics: a definition of sales and marketing alignment.
A lot of sales enablement leaders push their sales and marketing teams to “get aligned” without ever really telling them what “getting aligned” actually means.
There are two ways of looking at it…
The boring definition:
Sales and marketing alignment comprises the shared goals, consistent strategies and accepted success metrics that improve functionality, productivity, ROI and growth across departments and, more importantly, the business as a whole.
The definition that won’t put you to sleep:
Sales and marketing alignment is all about getting your sales team and your marketing team working as one unified, collaborative force to engage effectively with buyers and win more deals.
Sales and marketing alignment is a fluid concept, and it can mean something different for everyone you talk to. Don’t agree with the above definition? Totally cool. The important thing is that your sales and marketing teams should have a clear, mutually accepted understanding about what sales and marketing alignment is.
Learn about why sales and marketing alignment matters for your company by going to the next section of the sales and marketing alignment starter guide: The importance of sales and marketing alignment.
With so many strategies and priorities for companies, why does sales and marketing deserve to be added to the plate?
Okay, alignment seems like a good idea, but why does it trump all the other important priorities you have? Because the other priorities on your plate (lead generation for marketing, accelerating buyer timelines for sales, etc.) all tie in to alignment.
When your teams are in alignment, every process that touches another department is going to go smoother, faster and more effectively. Here are some industry statistics that back that statement up:
Aligning sales and marketing teams is proven to deliver 19% more growth for companies.
– Sirius Decisions, 2015
Companies with aligned strategies have 4x the probability of success over misaligned companies.
– Sales Benchmark Index, 2015
Best-in-class companies are 100% more likely to provide marketing with extensive visibility into how sales is using content.
– Aberdeen, 2014
Sales and marketing misalignment costs businesses $1 trillion each year due to decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts.
Sales and marketing misalignment isn’t just some squabble between sales and marketing teams. It impacts revenue. It causes inefficiencies, redundancies and waste that affects your bottom line. In short, it’s pretty important.
Now that we’ve covered how important sales and marketing alignment is, let’s discuss how to start improving it by going to the next section of the sales and marketing alignment starter guide: 3 steps to improve sales and marketing alignment.
Trying to get your sales and marketing teams aligned? You’re in the right place. To improve sales and marketing alignment, follow three simple steps.
As much as we’d love to tell you otherwise, you can’t just flip a switch to align your sales and marketing teams. It takes time and effort on the part of management, sales and marketing. However, it does make things go a lot smoother if you have structure and a clear plan as you go into a sales and marketing alignment initiative.
Here’s a 3-step plan for improving sales and marketing alignment:
Establish Expectations and Goals
Sit your sales and marketing teams down both initially and on a regular basis moving forward. Have everyone come to a consensus on what the overall business goals are, then plan out each department’s role in achieving those goals.
Why do you need to establish goals? If sales doesn’t know marketing’s messaging and marketing doesn’t understand what sales is trying to achieve with each step in the selling cycle, there are going to be problems. The sales team is not going to be able to respond effectively to the leads that come in based on marketing’s messaging and marketing won’t be able to provide sales materials that match up with sales’ goals (and specific buyers).
Create a Process
A process that covers both marketing and sales activities ensures that there will be a clear flow of communication and collaboration between departments. When there is no process set in place for handing off marketing leads to sales, for instance, there is a high likelihood that leads will get dropped or undervalued by either team.
Consider including marketing in your sales methodology as a start. Create a flexible set of guidelines and rules that govern what happens at each stage of the marketing and sales cycle, covering how each department should respond to certain events such handing off sales to the sales team. Instead of scrambling to find someone to deal with the new task, your teams will be able to respond quickly and effectively by following the set process.
Learn What Works and What Doesn’t
Sales and marketing alignment is not a one-time achievement. The key is to continuously try to improve alignment—find new ways for sales and marketing to work together or streamline processes.
If you’re maintaining high levels of communication and visibility (which you should be doing if you’ve followed steps 1 and 2), you’ll be able to identify any areas where your sales and marketing processes aren’t lining up. As your sales process evolves, new inefficiencies may arise, but if you’re on top of sales and marketing alignment, those inefficiencies won’t stick around for long.
Seems doable, right? We certainly think so. Learn how tools can make alignment even easier by going to the next section of the sales and marketing alignment starter guide: Tools designed for sales and marketing alignment.
You want to improve sales and marketing alignment? Sales enablement tools make it easy.
Yes, improving sales and marketing alignment can be as simple as having a weekly meeting for your sales and marketing teams. But you don’t have to stay that basic.
Sales enablement tools close the gap between sales and marketing, providing everyone with one streamlined platform for winning deals.
Everything from setting a process flow to providing visibility into current and planned activities can be accomplished by a sales enablement platform. Here are just a few of the technologies that facilitate easy sales and marketing alignment:
Centralized library with built-in tracking
Give sales easy access to all the content created by marketing, then give marketing visibility into which content is being used and which materials are sitting dormant.
Private buyer portals
Give sales a way to easily share materials and communicate with buyers, then give marketing visibility into which materials buyers respond best to (right down to the number of seconds they spend on each slide or page).
Give sales a way to ask marketing for resources, help with content prep, guidance on choosing the best content for a buyer, etc.—all right within the platform. Sales gets instant access to marketing’s insight and marketing gets clarity into the types of resources sales needs on a regular basis.
Give sales a way to easily personalize materials for a buyer—within the platform in just a few minutes. Marketing isn’t having to spend extra time on customization and can improve content based on which files are being personalized most often, and sales isn’t stuck waiting on marketing to find the time to customize materials for everyone.
Your marketing team uses a marketing automation platform, and your sales team uses CRM. Do those systems overlap? (Hint: the best answer is yes). When you integrate CRM and marketing automation together, you’re creating a clearer picture for everyone. Marketing gets visibility into how leads are progressing through the pipeline, and sales has more information about buyers as they enter the pipeline.
In the final step of the sales and marketing alignment starter guide, see how all of this guidance fits a bigger picture: Putting it all together.
Achieve sales and marketing alignment through sales enablement
Improving just one area of misalignment can result in higher revenue. Imagine what you can do with fully aligned teams.
There are a lot of aspects to sales and marketing alignment. Hopefully by going through this starter guide, you feel more prepared and knowledgeable about how to tackle the areas of misalignment within your organization.
After trying out the guidance from this starter guide, feel free to contact one of our sales enablement experts for a more in-depth assessment and advice on how to best address the unique challenges your company is facing.
If you’re looking for even more information on sales and marketing alignment, check out these resources or click on the button at the bottom of the page to access our resource library.