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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistFri, Apr 7, 2017 11 min read

Why Is Sales And Marketing Alignment All Of A Sudden So Important?

If You Want To Hit Your Revenue Targets, It’s A Non-Negotiable

Marketing and Sales AlignmentA few days ago, a prospect mentioned that her CEO was on a sales call with one of their reps and she didn’t recognize the company the sales rep was describing when talking about their business. It’s an obvious symptom of sales and marketing not being on the same page. On the blog, Jill Rowley explains how marketing and sales need to know a lot more about the customer to improve the key funnel metrics.

But sales and marketing have been on different pages since the beginning of time. Plenty of companies (including large and successful ones) have produced amazing growth while sales hated marketing and marketing hated sales. Why is alignment so important now?

What’s going on that’s making a more orchestrated sales and marketing effort the secret to success? The answer is buyer behavior and the buyer experience. Both are forcing us to rethink how sales and marketing work together.

Here are some steps you can take today to start bringing your sales and marketing teams into alignment.

Put Them Under One Executive, Your New CRO

This might seem extreme to you, but I’ve seen it work well in the past. Having a VP of marketing and a VP of sales perpetuates the two-team mentality and the us vs. them standoff. By putting both sales and marketing under one person, your new chief revenue officer, you have assurances that both teams are striving toward the same goal.

This ensures that one person is responsible for the prospect’s entire experience. From the time they hear or read about your business, then visit your website, download content, get into your lead nurturing program, work their way to the bottom of the funnel, request to speak with a sales rep, go through your sales process and sign the paperwork to become your newest customer, one person is responsible for creating a remarkable experience.

It’s the future of sales and marketing. Your revenue team needs a single executive responsible for revenue generation and revenue goal attainment.

Create A Service-Level Agreement (SLA) Between The Two Teams

If you’re going to keep the two teams separate, then consider creating a service-level agreement between the two organizations. What this means is that both sales and marketing agree through a series of discussions and meetings on exactly what each of the two teams is responsible for delivering. For example, we’ve helped clients figure out the true value of each type of lead and then assigned a monthly lead value target for the marketing team. People who request a whitepaper are worth $20. People who attend a webinar are worth $100. People who request a conversation with a sales rep are worth $400. Marketing has to deliver $50,000 worth of potential revenue each month.

On the sales side, sales agrees to follow up on all the leads provided in a specified time frame. Sales agrees to use the tools marketing provided, in the way they were provided. Timing is important; if the two teams agree that the time to respond to an inbound sales inquiry is five minutes, then that response has to be measured, tracked and reported on. This would be part of the sales team’s commitment within the SLA. To read more about SLAs, check out this HubSpot blog article.

Give Them A Single, Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, Trackable Goal – REVENUE

Want to get everyone’s attention in both departments? Give them one SMART goal around revenue. You might be thinking, great, I’ll give them all our annual revenue number. Not so fast. Smaller, more incremental goals are better, and incentives have to come along with goals.

Consider a team bonus for hitting revenue goals each month. Make sure those revenue goals are reasonable and attainable. If you set them too high, everyone gives up before they even get started. Make sure that everyone participating has individual goals that roll up to attaining revenue targets. If everyone on both teams is working toward the same number and everyone has something to work on that will drive that one number, you should gain some alignment this way.

Start Doing Joint Planning

In some case, these two teams never really come together at all, so consider starting with some regular and consistent joint planning. Start with an annual plan. Meet quarterly to adjust, respond and reprioritize, meet monthly to check in on progress, and meet weekly to track toward goals. These regular meetings are probably going on individually, so you aren’t adding more meetings —  you’re just pushing these two teams together so they work more closely and start realizing they need each other for the company to hit its goals.

Look At The Entire Prospect Experience

If you’re looking for one big exercise to bring these two teams together, this might be it. By bringing these two teams together and having them walk through a prospect’s experience with your company step by step, they’ll start to see each other’s world from a different perspective. It’s eye-opening for sales to see what marketing is trying to do with the website, advertising, content publication, social media, advocacy programs and events.

It’s equally eye-opening for marketing to see what sales does once a prospect says, “yes, I’d like to talk to a sales rep.” What do those conversations sound like, what materials are you using, how long does each step take and what questions are prospects asking? These insights are very valuable on both sides.

But what’s most valuable is when both teams work together to craft a new and more remarkable experience that is designed with input from both teams, with the prospect’s journey in mind and with an understanding that the faster we get them to know, like and trust us, the faster they’ll become new customers.

You can do one or all of the recommendations above, depending on your exuberance for moving these two teams into alignment. As you’re considering your next step, it might be worth briefly discussing the advantages we’ve seen for clients that do align their sales and marketing efforts.

Here are a handful of the quantitative improvements that alignment provides your organization:

  • Increased conversion rate on sales opportunities, primarily because the quality of leads tends to improve and because the experience that’s created when sales and marketing work together helps prospects feel safer about hiring you, so they choose you more frequently.
  • Decreased sales cycles, because prospects are getting a better sales process and experience. Plus, once marketing starts working with sales on all the touch points within your sales process, its not hard to come up with ideas that help customers make their choices more quickly.
  • Increased conversion rates from marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads and then to sales opportunities. This is because marketing is working more closely with sales to generate higher-quality leads that move through the funnel at much higher conversion rates.

These are not low-impact improvements. By making small improvements to the conversion rate at each stage of the revenue funnel, you’re looking at the potential for dramatic revenue increases.

Take a look at actual full-funnel analytics from a client with a before-and-after alignment snapshot. Before inbound marketing improvements and sales alignment, marketing produced one inbound customer every three months, or four new customers a year. After inbound marketing improvements and sales alignment, marketing is producing three new customers a month, or 36 new customers a year. This is almost a 10x improvement in new customers as a direct result of marketing and sales alignment.


This won’t happen overnight and heavy lifting is involved, but these are the kind of quantitative improvements inbound marketing and inbound sales deliver when people put their minds to it.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.