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How to Align Marketing and Sales for Better Leads and Outcomes

If your marketing and sales teams don’t get along, you’re far from alone.

Research from LinkedIn found 90% of marketing and sales professionals say they are misaligned across strategy, processes, content, and culture. And 98% say poor alignment negatively impacts the business and its customers.

In moments of misalignment, it makes perfect sense that these two departments wouldn’t get along. The marketing department gets frustrated when the sales team fails to convert the leads they’ve generated. And the sales team gets mad when they feel like the leads they’re receiving are subpar.

Both sides are right—to an extent. The marketing team’s responsibility is to generate high-quality leads, and if a high-quality lead is generated, the sales department has a responsibility to turn that lead into a paying customer.

But if marketing consistently generates low-quality leads, they need to reevaluate their approach. The responsibility can’t simply fall onto the sales team to turn nothing into something.

In an ideal world, there’s no finger-pointing. Instead, marketing and sales teams work together to develop procedures and assets that generate high-quality leads and turn them into great sales.

The results here can be astounding. Research from the Aberdeen Group found companies with aligned marketing and sales departments boasted:

  • 32% higher revenue
  • 36% better customer retention
  • 38% higher win rates

All from keeping two departments connected and collaborative!

How Misaligned Marketing and Sales Teams Create Trouble

So, where does the pain between marketing and sales departments actually come from? 

Research in the Harvard Business Review shows the feud stems primarily from economic and cultural differences between the two teams.

On the economic side, marketing and sales often disagree over the size of their department budgets, with each department believing it deserves more than the other.

In addition, sales departments are often critical of how marketing spends their budget on campaigns, especially when it comes down to how they position price, promotion, and product (three of the four Ps of marketing).

On the cultural side, marketing and sales lead entirely different lifestyles. The marketing team is often a blend of creative and analytical thinkers, using performance metrics to influence decisions and gauge campaign success.

Meanwhile, the sales team spends more time in the field directly interacting with leads and customers. Their knowledge and opinions on products and services often are directly influenced by these client interactions and in-person experiences—and these don’t always align with the numbers marketing generates.

As a result, marketing and sales have different opinions on just about everything, and that can cause them to grow apart.

This leads to terrible outcomes for everyone. Here’s how that misalignment can damage your company and its reputation:

  1. Unhappy marketing team – When marketing isn’t aligned with sales, the two teams compete for customers differently—or even compete for different customers. And when the sales team fails to convert marketing’s leads, the marketing team will grow more and more frustrated.
  2. Unhappy sales team – When the marketing team doesn’t understand what an ideal lead looks like to the sales team, the sales team will inevitably get stuck with seemingly subpar leads. That’s a frustrating experience, and it can lead to tough sales—and negative customer experiences.
  3. Unhappy prospects – If sales and marketing aren’t aligned on who the ideal customer is, the marketing team could wind up targeting the wrong audience. This means the wrong people ultimately see the messaging over and over again, leading to wasted budgets and frustrated teams.
  4. Unhappy customers – When the wrong audience is targeted, the wrong people become customers. And when someone buys something they don’t truly need or understand, they ultimately become unhappy with their purchase. This eventually turns into more headaches for the sales team—and more work for both sales and marketing teams.
  5. Unhappy leadership – When marketing and sales teams aren’t aligned, the performance of both teams suffers. And ultimately that means the entire company suffers. When the company suffers, the leadership team is going to become unhappy! This could then lead to layoffs or team restructuring.

If anyone in this chain is unhappy, everyone else eventually suffers—all because two departments aren’t aligned.

But by working to align your marketing and sales departments, you can spur new business and growth—just as the Aberdeen Group’s research found!

How to Align Marketing and Sales for Better Leads and Outcomes: 6 Strategies

Here’s how your marketing and sales teams can align for better results: 

1. Understand what makes a qualified lead

Under the right conditions (and with the right budget), the marketing team can generate dozens or even hundreds of leads per day.

But none of that matters if each of those leads is low quality.

It’s essential that both teams get onto the same page. Marketing and sales departments should be in agreement about what an ideal lead looks like.

The more specific they get with their definition, the better. For example, if you’re a B2B company, determine what to look for in the following:

  • Position
  • Budget
  • Industry
  • Employees
  • Point in the sales process

Once the right kind of leads come through, there can be no more finger-pointing. Only results.

For help getting started, check out our sales qualification guide!

2. Share lead, prospect, and customer data

The marketing team often works on the front end (generating leads)—and no further.

Sure, they might build email funnels, gated content, and other campaigns, but they don’t always see what the sales department experiences: the transformation of lead into prospect and prospect into client.

And the sales team also manages that client account for weeks, months, and years to come—long after the marketing department has forgotten about them!

That means sales has evolving insights that marketing isn’t privy to, including:

  • The product or service features that are most important to clients
  • Real-time client feedback on products and services
  • Why clients ultimately decided upon your products or services

Remember, marketing loves data. All of the above data points can impact how the marketing team creates their materials and where those materials are distributed.

3. Collaborate on campaigns

Marketing teams are experts in writing copy and creating eye-catching visuals, and they can back up their success with hard numbers.

But the sales team needs to know—and influence—what the marketing department is pushing. Again, the sales team has insight into what is most important to users or customers. Their input can help the messaging resonate with your target audience.

There’s another reason this step is so important: What happens if the marketing team runs a promotion but the sales team isn’t aware of it? If a potential customer comes to your door inquiring about a 20% discount and the sales rep has no idea what they’re asking about, that makes your entire company look bad!

4. Integrate your CRM

If you’re a larger company, you likely have a robust CRM that tracks the lifecycle of a lead into a happy customer. That’s great!

But if you don’t have a robust CRM already in place, it’s time to get one—and to max it out to its full potential.

For instance, many CRMs today can directly plug into your website and digital ads. And when a lead comes in through a web form, your CRM can automatically send out text messages and emails (written by your marketing team), add the lead into a text/email sequence, and alert the sales team to get in contact with the individual.

A robust CRM can also offer numerous other features. For example, a healthcare CRM plus work management platform can bring your teams together through Zoom and applications like Oracle Netsuite, Sage X3, and QuickBooks.

Keeping your technology locked together instead of relying on disparate tools can help sales and marketing collaborate better!

Plus, you can rely on CRM reporting to ensure you’re constantly moving in the right direction. 

5. Create clear policies—and agreements

Want to get really intense? Treat each other with the same gravity you reserve for clients and vendors.

For example, create service agreements for each other. You could create a rule that states if the marketing team generates a lead that meets specific criteria, the sales department will contact that lead within 24 hours.

Yes, you may already have a CRM system that automatically reaches out to new leads via text and email as soon as they hit the database, but the idea here is accountability.

You all have the same goal—and that’s to grow the company.

So, how do you equally hold each other accountable to make that happen?

6. Schedule regular check-ins

If your marketing and sales teams aren’t meeting regularly, focus on changing that. Everything we mentioned above requires collaboration, and scheduling regular opportunities to check in together ensures that collaboration happens on a regular basis.

In those meetings, you’ll have time to discuss the following:

  • Campaign updates
  • Campaign strategies
  • Campaign performance
  • Key selling points of products and services
  • Latest feedback from leads, prospects, and customers

And, of course, you’ll also have time to connect and build your rapport with each other!

Align Your Marketing and Sales Teams

If your marketing and sales teams have a history of fighting or not getting along, it’s time to squash the beef.

And it’s time to start working together.

One of the best strategies for collaboration is to adopt comprehensive technology that ties the two teams together.

FreeAgent CRM helps marketing and sales teams consolidate all their customer relationships in one place, work more collaboratively, and track and improve marketing and sales performance.

Try out FreeAgent today for better results!

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