I ask prospects this question frequently, and I’m always happy to hear the answers: “Yes, of course. Yep, we work together regularly. Yes, they’re aligned inside HubSpot.”
However, when we get deeper into the sales process or start our engagement, we almost always find the truth to be something different.
What does sales and marketing alignment actually mean? Maybe that’s part of the challenge?
Ask Google or ChatGPT, “What is sales and marketing alignment?”, and here’s how they answer the question:
Sales and marketing alignment refers to the strategic and collaborative coordination between a company's sales and marketing teams to achieve shared goals and objectives. It involves aligning their efforts, strategies, messaging and activities to optimize the customer journey and drive revenue growth.
That sounds good, but is that really easy to understand? I’m not so sure.
I think this is a better and more practical definition to know if your company has sales and marketing aligned:
In a well-aligned sales and marketing environment, the two teams work together seamlessly, sharing information, insights and resources to create a cohesive and effective customer experience. They collaborate on defining target markets, identifying customer personas, creating compelling messaging and content, and implementing lead generation and nurturing strategies.
Together, they deliver a remarkable and seamless experience to their prospects that delivers shorter sales cycles and higher close rates. What do you think? Is this your company?
Here’s how to know if your marketing and sales teams are aligned or not.
The days of having a VP of Marketing and a VP of Sales are over. You need a single Chief Revenue Officer who is accountable and responsible for your company hitting its revenue goals month over month.
Frankly, I don’t care what you call them. I’ve never been too excited about titles, but they must have the accountability and responsibility associated with setting and then meeting or exceeding your goals every month.
Sales and marketing people (regardless of how many) report up to the Rainmaker role. Any agencies you use are getting attention from this role. This role works with other areas of the business too and probably should have the same oversight for the customer revenue as well.
This means they might also oversee customer service, where customer revenue lives. This article is about sales and marketing, but progressive companies are putting marketing, sales and customer service together under this CRO or Chief Customer Officer position.
Want to know if your two revenue teams are aligned? Simply see if they meet each week. If sales and marketing are not sitting down at the same revenue team meeting every week at the same time and following the same agenda, your teams are not aligned.
The prospect doesn’t care about your two teams. They want a seamless and positive experience – more on that later. But if your two teams are working hand in hand, you’ll never deliver that experience.
These two teams have to be looking at data together, working on issues together, and sharing ideas and insights together. Most importantly, sales should be sharing challenges with sales opportunities, questions prospects are asking, content sales needs and competitive information.
If these two teams have a regular revenue team meeting with a regular agenda that covers scorecards, opportunity reviews and marketing campaign follow-up and is designed to help the team process issues together, you’ll have an aligned sales and marketing team in no time.
You’ve likely heard the saying “what gets measured, gets done.” Historically, sales has been primarily responsible for revenue, with marketing responsible for brand awareness and leads. This split is often problematic for both groups, and the way you end it is to give them shared goals.
Once you set up a team goal for both marketing and sales – one that’s based on revenue, revenue level attainment and/or consistent month-over-month revenue growth – you’ll have an entirely different experience with marketing and sales.
Then build out a shared scorecard with key performance indicators (KPIs) for both marketing and sales that both teams have full visibility into. Review the scorecard data weekly with both teams and hold them accountable for their specific metrics.
Make sure that one of those metrics – projected revenue vs. revenue goal – is assigned to the revenue team leader, either the CRO or Rainmaker role. Once everyone is working on the same numbers, you’ll be that much closer to an aligned revenue team.
If the goal is creating a remarkable experience for prospects that compels them to select your company, then marketing and sales working together to design and deliver that experience is critical.
No matter what you do to launch this experience, it’s going to require ongoing optimization.
Marketing needs feedback from sales on the quality of the leads, the conversations they’re having with prospects and the materials they need to move prospects forward to close. Sales needs information from marketing around messaging, how to deliver the message and the educational materials available to help them tell your Big Story.
Everything will need some type of optimization, and if these two groups are working together and sharing information every week, this optimization can happen quickly and efficiently.
Want to get everyone on the same page? Document your most important processes, share them and ensure that everyone is following them. This applies to revenue generation and specifically marketing and sales.
Sales should have the entire sales process documented and visually mapped out on paper. Every single touch point in the sales process should be identified, down to the email template sales uses to add value at each stage.
Marketing should have their campaign planning, campaign execution and ongoing optimization processes mapped out, and they should be able to share those with sales.
Sales should be included in all the campaign efforts, either as part of a preview step before launch or as part of an inclusion step that has them getting the same communication as the prospects. This allows sales to support all the campaign execution and helps improve program performance.
Collaborating, executing and optimizing these processes is going to create a truly aligned revenue team that puts your company in the top 10% of businesses that have recognized the importance of strategically aligning marketing and sales.