David Kirkpatrick

What Single Attribute Can Improve Your Marketing? Sales and Marketing alignment

July 10th, 2015

After writing hundreds of MarketingSherpa Newsletter case studies and, in the process, interviewing, speaking with and getting to know many, many marketers, one attribute really stands out for influencing successful marketing — Sales and Marketing alignment.

It doesn’t guarantee success and lack of alignment doesn’t automatically mean failure. However, when Marketing and Sales are working together as a team instead of as adversaries within a company, the entire sales pipeline is much more effective.

One reason for this success is that companies with a Sales and Marketing alignment are much more likely to see the entire customer experience holistically, where each person is seen in terms of where they are in the process.

For example, that person will be seen as a freshly generated lead, a prospect who has been handed off to Sales, a paying customer requiring service or an ongoing nurturing to ensure they remain a customer.  This is much more preferable than being just a cog in a process that begins with Marketing, goes to Sales — where, at that point, the person drops off of Marketing’s radar altogether — and then, hopefully, is passed to customer service and is no longer a Sales concern.



Avoid the “walled garden”

In an aligned company, every player in the pipeline — Marketing, Sales and customer service — all have a continued stake in that person.

In the unaligned company, those three groups are isolated from each other and very possibly have an adversarial relationship. Groups are only concerned with the customer in the pipeline when that person is within its particular walled garden.

One change in the world of Marketing has definitely made a Sales and Marketing alignment much easier to achieve. That change is the advent of data-driven marketing, particularly through digital marketing.

At one time, Marketing was little more than alchemy within a company. The team had a budget. It spent that budget and passed along leads to Sales where the real return on investment happened. The CMO sat alone in the boardroom with no data to show the value of Marketing’s efforts. That budget might as well been a black hole as far as the C-suite was concerned.

All that has changed. Now Marketing can track leads and campaigns to an amazing degree, using analytics on a veritable pipeline of data from the website, email campaigns, social interactions and even via traditional channels such as direct mail and phone calls.

This data allows Marketing to show exactly what it did to get that anonymous visitor down through the pipeline to a paying customer. Because Marketing now knows so much more about prospects, it is able to provide Sales with more highly qualified leads. Sales is now learning that quality of leads is much better than quantity of leads.

That data is being created and driven by an amazing array of marketing technology such as marketing automation — so much so that CMOs are beginning to supplant CIOs in the executive chamber and in deciding what technology companies are implementing in customer relationship management, database management and business intelligence.


It’s a journey, not a destination

Make no mistake about it — achieving a Sales and Marketing alignment is not easy. In larger, more established enterprise companies it can be difficult to change the basic way each group views its role in the business. At the same time, it’s an effort worth undertaking.

Just remember that getting this Sales and Marketing alignment is not a checkbox on a list of goals. It’s a state of company culture that requires ongoing nurturing, regular conversations and mutual respect.

In this culture,  Marketing is working to provide Sales with the resources and leads it wants and needs. Sales then understands that Marketing is making its job much easier than the days of dumping as many leads, qualified or not, into Sales’ lap with little more than a “Here you go” to support that final push through the Sales pipeline.

We’d love to hear about your Sales and Marketing alignment success stories — as well as those that might be better suited for the plot of a horror novel — in the comments.


You might also like

Sales-Marketing Alignment: 8 tactics from a marketer who has worn both hats [MarketingSherpa how-to]

Sales-Marketing Alignment: Marketing-qualified lead lift of 25%, lead rejection reduction of 20% with data-driven marketing strategy [MarketingSherpa case study]

Sales-Marketing Alignment: What B2B marketers can learn from a one-person team that drove a 10% product demo conversion [MarketingSherpa case study]

CRM and the Marketing Database: Data hygiene, behavioral analysis and more [MarketingSherpa how-to]

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

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