3 Key Steps to Align Your Sales and Marketing

Anne Daly May 31, 2018
Man and woman hands trying to connect puzzle pieces

Organizations excelling at aligning sales and marketing teams achieve 20% revenue growth on average annually. By contrast, companies with poor alignment saw revenues decline by 4%.

So, if you want to grow your business, sales and marketing alignment should be a top priority.

It’s easier said than done, though.

So, what can you do to align your sales and marketing?

Our Business Development Representative, Emily Hulstein, has sales and marketing alignment down to a science.

Here are three steps she recommends.

1. Establish Common Goals and a Strategy to Achieve Them

If you want to meet a goal, first you have to agree on what that goal is.

Start with the big picture, Emily says. For example, your sales revenue goals for the fiscal year.

Then, she says, “work backwards.” What does your team need to do to meet this goal?

How many deals do you need to close? How many leads do you need to attract? What percent do you need to convert? How many website visitors do you need? Use this workflow to help you get started:

Website Traffic to Revenue Goal Calulator

g for opportunities to grow? This worksheet will help you start brainstorming about your options:<>Business Growth Strategy

2. Implement Alignment: The Service Level Agreement

So, you’ve established your goals. How do you get sales and marketing on the same page, and keep each team accountable for upholding their end of the bargain?

“You need a Service Level Agreement,” or SLA, Emily says.

What is it? A deal that sales and marketing - or at least the heads of each department - sign saying what they’re accountable for.

What should it include? As you write your SLA, you’ll also want to spell out a definition of a “qualified” lead - that both sales and marketing can agree on. Too often, Emily says, there’s a disconnect between how sales qualifies leads, and how marketing qualifies leads. This can lead to frustration on both ends, where “marketers say, ‘we hand over so many qualified leads to sales,’ and sales says, ‘we get so many “qualified” leads from marketing that aren’t [qualified at all].’”

Worried about getting sales and marketing on the same page? Don’t give up, says Emily. Alignment can make a huge difference in your organization’s success, and it pays huge dividends for both teams. If you run into resistance, aim for a minimum goal of getting the heads of both departments on the same page. Then, let the effects of the agreement “trickle down from there.”

3. Optimizing Alignment for Growth: Regular Maintenance Required

So you have an SLA.

But just because your goals are written down, and tasks are assigned, doesn’t mean that your goals will magically be met.

The key for success? Regular communication and continuous process refinement.

To ensure that your sales and marketing teams are working well together, you’ll need to schedule regular meetings. Worried that they won’t be productive? Make sure they include these five steps.

1. Review the SLA

Is everyone still on the same page? Or do adjustments need to be made?

2. Performance Check-In

What’s working? What isn’t?

Are sales and marketing hitting their goals? If not, how can processes be refined to fix this? If yes, does the team need to set more aggressive goals?

3. Content Performance Review & Discussion

What collateral is getting a lot of traction with sales? With marketing? How could one help the other?

For example, Emily says, “what collateral is marketing seeing being really effective, and how can sales leverage this?” On the flip side, what questions or comments has sales been hearing a lot of that marketing could address in collateral?

4. Strategies and Trends

What’s happening in the marketplace?

How can you capitalize on these trends?

5. Implementation

After the meeting, it’s time to implement any changes that have come up, and optimize for future success. “A tech stack that makes this seamless is really important,” says Emily. When marketing can seamlessly automate the handoff to sales, incredible things happen.

For example, she says, using one consistent CRM, “Your sales team can be “really targeted [in their outreach] without spending too much time doing extra research.” A system like HubSpot puts prospect data at your fingertips, so your sales team doesn’t have to guess.

“HubSpot will track emails, documents people are engaging with,” the works, Emily says. “Tracking is build into the same platform. It’s not an unknown factor - you have real data that you can use on both the sales and marketing side to refine strategy.”

Do Your Sales and Marketing Efforts Need Alignment Work?

Use this checklist to assess your company's current level of marketing and sales alignment, and score your results at the bottom.

Your score will indicate your teams' levels of proficiency and suggest some next steps to stop your funnel from leaking and ultimately close more deals in less time.

Get the checklist here.