Why Marketing and Sales Must Align?
Marketing and sales pivot around a common centre point: customers.
As functions go, marketing focuses on creating brand awareness among prospective customers while sales focuses on closing deals with those prospects.
Marketing yields leads, which become the inputs for sales. Essentially, marketers and sales people work on the same pipeline. Then it stands to reason that marketing should align with sales.
But in many organizations, marketing and sales work in separate silos, to the great disadvantage of business. Marketers tend to focus on long-term brand building among people at-large while sales teams chase short-term sales targets.
Leads, the most valuable output of marketing for forming the basis for sales growth, get lost in this narrowing of perspective.
Communication between marketing and sales is vital for effective brand building—creating prospectives who aren’t just aware of the brand but also willing to consider engaging with it. Sales representatives find it easier to close deals with such “mature” prospects.
Communication forms the bedrock of marketing and sales alignment. It helps both teams realize that they are pulling in the same direction—to increase business revenue.
Alignment gets marketers and sales people talking about their shared goal and fixes responsibility for revenue growth on both teams.
Sales must define ‘who is a good lead’ in terms of demographics and behavioral traits so that marketers can think more pointedly than creating awareness among people at-large. With alignment, the focus of marketing shifts to generating a certain number of sales-ready, high quality leads, to increase the conversion rate of prospecting.
Aligned marketers and sales people work jointly on leads. Marketing passes on leads to sales, which may be evaluated as sales-ready or needing additional workup, in which case they pass back to marketing with detailed feedback on what elements are missing.
Tying marketing closely with sales links the ROI with marketing spend and helps measure the performance of marketing teams, which is so useful in these days of soaring marketing budgets. Most companies spend a third of their revenue on marketing and sales.
Aligning marketing and sales also increases the revenue cycle and cuts the cost of doing business.
“The more that sales and marketing are on the same page, the easier it will be to close your sales cycles,” says Jeremy Boudinet, director of marketing at the sales software company Ambition. “Sales cycles are much shorter when that [marketing] content is ready.”
At Ambition, leads obtained from online marketing materials close about 25% of the time, and leads that come in from sales—without the help of marketing—close at a rate of 1.5%.
Clearly, marketing and sales alignment can substantially increase revenue. Highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth, while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease in revenue, according to a 2011 Aberdeen Group study.
To align marketing with sales is to look closely at both functions through the lens of revenue generation, the end objective of business.