11 Tips to Align Sales and Marketing – Sales and Marketing Alignment Tips From the Experts.

 In All Things Productivity, Blog

The issue of sales and marketing alignment doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. These days you can’t swing a cat without hearing about some new product or service that promises ready made alignment. Luckily, some of the finest minds in B2B today have also tackled the question of how to align sales and marketing meaning there is some extremely valuable content on this subject out there.


To help get your sales and marketing teams singing from the same hymn sheet, we have collated the best alignment advice from around the web into one highly consumable guide. In no particular order, here are the top 10 tips to align sales and marketing.

1. The lead hand off myth.
sales marketing collaboration

“Marketing and sales alignment is really about the customer. We have to look at it from the eyes of the customer. Companies today and people, we need to be customer-centered, customer-centric, customer-obsessed. The myth? The perfect sales and marketing delineation, marketing generates, tosses to sales, sales qualifies, creates the opportunity, and closes the deal. That’s not how it works today. The reality is that sales and marketing are continuously integrated.
– Jill Rowley, “Use Social Selling to Align Sales and Marketing”.

For more expert advice from social selling evangelist Jill, check out jillrowley.com or @jill_rowley.

2. Focus on the customer.
alignment best practices

“Maybe, you can imagine that I’m probably not the biggest fan of the various sales and marketing alignment discussions. Right. I’m not. And here is why:

“I’m not questioning the need to solve challenges between sales and marketing. Not at all. But I’m questioning the way how these challenges are phrased and discussed – very often based on internal issues, not on customer issues. I have learned, that we can be a lot more effective by changing our perspective, by changing the way to think about these sales & marketing challenges in a GoToCustomer way.”
– Tamara Schenk, “GoToCustomer – Key To Success For Cross-Functional Collaboration – Part 1: Sales & Marketing”.

For more sales enablement wisdom from Tamara, check out blog.tamarashcenk.com or @tamaraschenk

3. Sales is Marketing. Marketing is Sales.
sales aligned with marketing

“In short, sales is the delivery vehicle for marketing’s message. If you are a sales person at a B2B company every sales situation is unique. Think about all the different permutations that you face: industry, buyer, solution, configuration, stage, requirements etc… Every time a rep — a good rep — gets in front of a client, they are pitching a slightly different story and value message based on all the great messaging and content that marketing has created. The sales person is really acting as a marketer in each and every single sales situation.

“And from the buyer’s perspective, the message they receive from the company is actually coming from the rep. Their perception of the value and solution is all being shaped by the rep.”
– Alex Gorbansky, “Sales is Marketing; Marketing is Sales”.

To hear more about Alex’s unique take on how to align sales and marketing check out his presentation at the InsideSales.com Sales Acceleration Summit or follow on twitter at @gorbansky

4. Sales can play an important role in content creation.

“Marketing is playing an expanding role in the sales process through the creation, deployment and measurement of educational content’s impact in generating revenue. Sales can and should be playing a big role in content creation and its deployment. When alignment between the two is achieved and maintained, the results are big.”
– Rich McElaney, “5 Steps for Getting Sales and Marketing Alignment through Content”.

Rich McElaney is the Director of Sales at Quintain Marketing. Previously the VP of Business Development at the Sales Lion, Rich has some valuable insights into sales and marketing alignment. Well worth a follow on Twitter @richmac

5. The beers are on me!

“Marketing and sales alignment needs to come from the top, i.e. the head of marketing and the head of sales really making a commitment to doing this together. Sometimes that might be forced on them by the CEO, but honestly the biggest piece of advice I have for many companies that need to start solving this is: the head of sales and head of marketing should go grab a beer together or play a game of golf. The relationship is often so frayed that a regular social cadence can literally help to set that top-down alignment.”
– Jon Miller, “Straight Talk with Jon Miller: Marketing and Sales Alignment”.

Marketo co-founder and founder and current CEO of Engagio, Jon Miller has probably forgotten more about sales and marketing alignment than many of us will ever know. Check out Jon’s own website www.jonmiller.com and follow on Twitter to hear about the very latest in Account-Based Marketing.

6. Align through Salesforce.
“CEOs must make this clear from Day 1. Bring in marketing leaders as well as sales leaders and make them official stakeholders in Salesforce’s success. This will not only help work Salesforce into your company’s fabric, it will also improve sales-marketing alignment. Salesforce can function as a universal language for sales and marketing teams that desperately need one. Instead of competing definitions of “prospect,” “lead,” and “opportunity,” Salesforce offers a single interpretation that both teams can use to create a service-level agreement that delineates rules for how the two teams execute in relation to each other.”
– Mike Baker, “What CEOs Must Know About Salesforce Implementation”.

Mike Baker is the Senior Content Strategist at InsightSquared. His posts on Sales, Marketing and Operations are a must follow for any data-driven teams. Follow Mike on Twitter for the latest and greatest in content marketing.

7. A long term commitment.
“The long-term success of your sales-marketing alignment efforts will depend on the efficiency of your process and engagement of your personnel.

The teams that get an edge in sales-marketing alignment will be those who maintain commitment to overarching strategy and continuously seek ways to further improve alignment.”
– Jeremy Boudinet, “Maintaining Accountability to Sales & Marketing KPIs”.

Jeremy Boudinet has written extensively on how to align marketing and sales on the Ambition blog with a particular focus on the most important KPIs to prioritize and how to incentivize winning behaviors. Follow Jeremy on Twitter for the latest on sales management, coaching, and incentivization.

8. Align with the customer.

“Over the last decade, buyers have unprecedented access to independent reviews, peers, analyst and independent sources of information. As a result, sales no longer chaperones buyers through their purchasing process, but buyers instead go through a self-directed process the vendor can enable. Buyers are contacting sales to establish a relationship, test their chemistry and see if they can trust the vendor.

Want to align marketing and sales? Align them both with the customer.”
– Christine Crandell, “Sales and Marketing Alignment Begins with the Customer”.

Christine is a renowned consultant, speaker, and blogger who believes in aligning culture, processes and systems outward to customers and markets. Follow Christine at www.newbizs.com or on Twitter at @ChrisCrandell.

9. Quality over quantity.

“Once marketing knows what your ideal prospect profile looks like, they can use a tool like marketing automation to set up lead scoring and grading rules, which will automatically and objectively qualify leads based on the specifications you set. A lead score will ensure that leads are showing enough interest in your company, while a lead grade will determine how well they match your ideal profile. Together, these two factors will indicate how qualified a lead is — and your sales team will be much happier knowing that the leads they’re getting from marketing are being subjected to standards that they help set up.”
– Adam Blitzer, “The One Simple Secret to Sales and Marketing Alignment”.

As VP of Pardot, Adam is more than adept in the area of sales and marketing alignment. Follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamBlitzer.

10. Aligning the alignment.

“But I’m discovering that even if an organization understands the need, they often have a hard time “aligning the alignment”—in other words, they know what they need to do, they just don’t know how what they’re doing (or buying) is going to get them there.

Ultimately, regardless of avenue, there’s really only 4 ways to increase sales:

  1. Greater lead quantity – Expanding into new verticals and markets, approving more ad spend to drive traffic, opening up more avenues, referral and affiliate programs.
  2. Greater lead quality – finding better markets, better targets, better qualified prospects, and linking ad spend to actual conversions and revenue.
  3. Greater sales rep effort – phone calls, appointments set, collateral delivered, etc., linked to management tools that show how the process is actually running.
  4. Greater sales rep skill – coaching, scripting, needs analysis and qualifying approaches within each step.

– Ken Krogue, “Aligning the Alignment” – 4 Ways of Increasing Sales (and Connecting Them to Marketing)”.

Ken is the founder of www.insidesales.com. Undoubtedly one of the most influential voices in B2B sales today, Ken is a must follow on Twitter @kenkrogue

11. Align through Account-Based Marketing.

“Account-Based Marketing is about aligning with outbound sales to generate the largest revenue. Marketing provides air cover by nurturing and educating their known universe of prospects. They produce the content and materials that help lure contacts at the company into deeper conversations with sales. While sales is effectively utilizing the moments of attention that marketing is engendering with their target prospects.”
– Adam New Waterson, “Is Account-Based Marketing the Holy Grail for Lead Generation Nirvana? [PowerOpinions Part 2]”.

Adam is CMO at LeanData. Adam has some interesting ideas around how sales and marketing can get on the same page including a research project on alignment. For the very latest in Account Based Marketing follow Adam on Twitter @RevTechCMO.


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