Developing and nurturing B2B sales and marketing alignment is an ongoing challenge that organizations are aware of but, surprisingly, fail to properly address. One explanation might be that it’s easier to ignore problems for which the impact is difficult to assess and measure or the benefits of making changes are considered “nice-to-have” rather than “must-have”.
This mindset is shifting, however, as more and more studies show the concrete and measurable negative impacts that disconnected sales and marketing teams have on company success and, conversely, that organizations tackling this challenge are seeing real and tangible benefits.
Below are four of the reasons why more B2B organizations are finally making sales and marketing alignment a priority.
Turn revenue losses into gains
Studies now clearly show that significant costs are incurred by companies that let sales and marketing misalignment linger. In fact, according to Kapost, companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.
On the other hand, what are B2B companies with strong sales and marketing alignment experiencing?
- 20% annual growth rate
- 27% faster three-year profit growth
- 38% higher sales win rate
- 36% increase in customer retention
- 208% higher marketing revenue
These jaw-dropping statistics should alone be enough to get any B2B leader to consider tackling the elephant in the room, but let’s dig deeper to further emphasize why unifying your sales and marketing teams is beneficial to your company’s success.
Improve marketing and sales efficiency
According to HubSpot, 73% of leads that get passed on to sales are not contacted and 79% of leads don’t convert. Many of these issues could be alleviated simply by opening the communication lines between sales and marketing teams.
In truth, it’s about time both sales professionals and marketers admit that they need each other. Setting aside what makes marketing and sales people good at their jobs (creativity vs. social skills for example), each team views a different side of the same customer and market coin and owns a different set of information which, when put together, creates a stronger whole.
Marketing generally has a more macro view of customers and prospects via insight into market research and campaign data while sales holds an equally important micro view of customers and prospects because of their direct relationships and the qualitative feedback that comes out of them.
Instead of creating siloed campaigns independently, marketing can benefit from getting the sales team’s input at the beginning of the campaign planning process by way of qualitative insight about how past marketing initiatives resonated with the prospects and customers they interfaced with.
Marketing teams can better support sales through consistent calibration on questions such as:
- What does the sales cycle look like for you today? Are you sensing shifts?
- Are there recurring questions from prospects that we can address with marketing content?
- What new marketing assets do you need to help move the sales needle forward?
On the other hand, the sales team can be more effective by checking in with marketing on:
- Shifts in pain points experienced or solutions sought by prospects & customers
- Where the most effective leads are originating from in their view
- Whether the lead qualification process is working as desired
- What messages are resonating most with the individuals they engage
Committing time for regular check ins between sales and marketing on points like those above goes a long way towards achieving a high degree of alignment.
Turn competitors into collaborators
Marketing and sales are typically measured against different goals which can create a divide and an “agree to disagree” status quo.
Consider the following scenario. When a company’s revenue numbers are not looking good, the sales team is asked why they have not reached their quota. Sales may argue that they are not getting enough qualified leads from marketing. Conversely, marketing reaches their lead generation goal and argues that sales has not been following up on the leads that they have worked so hard to provide.
Unifying sales and marketing teams can sometimes be as simple as ensuring that everyone is speaking the same language. For example, agreeing on a common, criteria-based definition of what constitutes a qualified lead, what the hand-off process requires and how leads will be followed up on are components that often get interpreted differently by different team members. This is especially true as time goes by and new members join the team.
It’s important to note too that while the general idea of opening communication lines and speaking the same language seems straightforward, it needs to be done in a thoughtful and structured way to ensure that the information being shared stays consistent and constructive over time.
Designating a cross-functional collaboration team and leveraging technologies such as CRM to bring data to the discussions can help to mitigate emotion and bring focus to what really matters.
Build a culture of trust
While the primary motivation to unify your B2B sales and marketing teams might be financial gain, another undeniable benefit and a requirement for true success is building a culture of trust.
Trust is something that is earned over time. Consistent application of the principles identified so far (e.g. improving communication streams, aligning and revisiting common goals, etc.) paves the way to a more positive and productive work environment. Most all of us like it when others listen and follow through on what they’ve said they will do.
Trust also fosters “professional empathy.” When people fully understand the challenges and opportunities of the other team they are far more likely to accept them. While not everything is feasible, acknowledging the other team’s needs and communicating about what can be done and why it needs to be done in a certain way increases the view that we’re one team pursuing common goals.
If the scenarios that we’re describing constitute a drastic culture change from your current state, leaders are going to need to dedicate themselves to being drivers of this change. Organizational climate can be changed quickly, but truly changing an organization’s culture takes much more time and sustained energy.
Last but not least, celebrate wins together!
Now that we have established “why” unifying sales and marketing is a MUST, your next step is to dive into how to bring them together once and for all. Your business is depending on it.