Sales and Marketing Alignment – Tips for Success

Sales and Marketing Alignment – Tips for Success

If your company is doing any sort of demand generation, then you need to make sure that your sales and marketing departments are aligned. However, in my experience, the strong and creative personalities in these two departments can make this challenging. Here’s my hints for success:

1. Encourage your sales and marketing teams to communicate frequently. The more they talk, the better, since the reality is that everyone just wants to make money. That means marketing should be focused on providing the best quality and quantity of leads possible and sales should be focused on converting them to revenue. So if the two teams meet weekly, marketing can introduce new programs and content, get feedback on how ongoing programs are going and sales can get the information needed to better convert leads. And it doesn’t hurt to have sales attend events and webinars and to have marketing sit with your inside sales team once in a while to see what the experience is like to call one of the leads they’re passing over. (Bonus hint – put frequent in-person communication into sales and marketing incentive plans).

2. Once you have everyone talking, it’s time to get scientific. Lay out your lead stages give them specific definitions. If marketing defines an MQL as a prospect with the right number of employees and sales thinks an MQL is BANT qualified, you don’t have alignment. Define each step – raw lead, MQL, SQL, Opp, etc. with exact criteria. (Another bonus hint: I’m a big fan of the lead stage Sales Accepted Lead. This is added after a lead is handed off to sales and before sales starts to work it. It gives the sales rep a chance to review the lead and then accept or reject it. Adding it gives you a metric to watch to see what percentage of the “good leads” from marketing are validated by sales.)

3. Now that you have the stages defined, document where your company is performing. An accurate, no judgement picture. How many leads are coming in, how many are converting to meetings, how many to opps, how many close, etc. And add in the costs for all of them. Be realistic at this point so you really know where you stand.

4. Now, gather everyone together to develop some improvement objectives. If your sales team is closing at 10%, what happens if you try for 15%? Or if cost per lead is $75 – can you test lead programs at $60 see if they convert as well? Don’t be unrealistic – it’s important to look for attainable improvement and to give your team time to meet new objectives.

5. Now get alignment on the prospect experience. Once someone becomes a lead, who contacts them, how and with what offers? How often do they get emails from marketing? Are they added into a nurture program? When does sales make the first call and what contact is made after that? Is there any chance a lead will get the same offers from more than one place? Remember that from the prospect’s experience, any contact from your company is the same, so make sure you understand what a prospect is receiving.

6. Be sure and run reports on results and review them with the teams. But, in demand generation, numbers always win, so give reporting priority over anecdotal feedback. If sales doesn’t love leads from a certain source, but they convert highly to opps, the program has to continue. Ditto if marketing finds certain programs or events tedious – if they’re making money, they stay in the marketing mix.

Let me know if this helps. If you send me an email at, I’ll send you the list of the three biggest problem areas I normally encounter.

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