10 Steps for Fixing Your Marketing and Sales Alignment

On our latest episode of The Closing Show, Chief Revenue Officer Connor Cox and some of our marketing and sales leaders talk about the dire misalignment they were dealing with and how they finally got aligned.

10 Steps for Fixing Your Marketing and Sales Alignment

10 min. read

When I started working at Proposify, marketing and sales were not aligned.

We had every flavor of misalignment going on.

Sales was running cold email campaigns and not telling marketing about it. Marketing was complaining about sales not using their collateral. Our marketing team had no idea how to support the sales team. Both teams were tracking completely different metrics and had no shared goals.

And on and on it went.

Fortunately, everyone on board wanted to fix it. The folks on both sides were willing to change.

Below, we share how we did it and the results we’ve experienced. Keep reading for marketing and sales alignment statistics, quotes, and strategies.

Marketing and sales alignment definition

Marketing and sales alignment (also known as “smarketing”) refers to when these different departments are working not just in parallel, but together.

Signs your marketing and sales team aren’t aligned

If you suspect that your marketing and sales teams aren’t aligned, you’re probably right.

Have you noticed any of these issues or warning signs?

  • Sales reps complain that they don’t have enough sales enablement content.

  • Marketing isn’t using or doesn’t care about revenue metrics further down the funnel.

  • Sales reps aren’t sharing what they learn from conversations with prospects.

  • Marketing de-prioritizes requests from sales reps.

  • Sales and marketing don’t know what campaigns each other are working on.

Benefits of marketing and sales alignment

When marketing and sales teams are aligned, everyone wins. Well-aligned teams drive 200% more revenue growth from marketing tactics, reduce their customer acquisition costs by 30%, and 67% more effective at closing deals.

Organizations with aligned marketing and sales teams also earn 37% higher customer retention. That’s probably because customers really understand what they’re buying. We can also assume that organizations with great marketing and sales teams probably invest in customer success and experience.

Examples of marketing and sales alignment

So what does alignment really look like?

We’ll hit on these more in our step-by-step guide below, but for now, here are some key examples of marketing and sales alignment:

  • Sales and marketing work together to come up with campaign and content ideas.

  • Sales and marketing utilize some of the same metrics to measure success.

  • Sales and marketing have a process in place for sharing learnings and insights.

  • Sales and marketing see the work they do in coordination with each other as a top priority (not an extra task).

  • Sales and marketing regularly collaborate at the team level and at the individual level.

Examples of Marketing and Sales alignment

Our alignment story: how we hit 130% over our revenue target

If your marketing and sales teams are currently misaligned, I feel your pain.

We had an almost adversarial feeling between our teams—a lot of complaining, blaming, and frustration.

It’s not that any individual was doing something wrong. It was that, as we had grown both our sales and marketing teams, we had never put in the effort to hone in the processes for collaboration.

This is a common problem with scale-ups. The only danger is ignoring it.

We went from a total lack of alignment to having a strong foundation for ongoing communication and collaboration.

Today, that foundation includes:

  • Our pipeline-building meeting with both sales and marketing

  • Our processes for planning campaigns 2-3 quarters in advance

  • The shared metrics we’ve implemented

  • The culture shift in terms of respecting and support each others’ work

On a recent episode of The Closing Show, we chat about this transformation in detail.

The results have been impressive. For the first time ever, we’re over our revenue targets this year—to the tune of 130%.

Below, I share 10 essential steps we took to get aligned.

10 steps for achieving alignment between marketing and sales

The path towards alignment shouldn’t be too rocky (if it is, you might be doing it wrong). Use these steps to handle every aspect, from culture shifts to data sources.

Try these strategies and best practices for marketing and sales alignment:

1. Run effective meetings involving both teams

The first step is to start running effective meetings for both marketing and sales to attend together. Most companies are not hosting regular meetings for both teams.

Who to invite:

Depending on the size of your company, you might invite everyone from marketing and sales, or you might just invite the managers and team leads. You might choose to have managers join weekly and to have everyone else join monthly.

What to discuss:

For your first meeting, it’s great to start by sharing recent insights. Sales reps can take turns sharing stand-out moments from sales conversations. Marketing team members can talk about top-performing messaging, campaign themes, and customer research data.

By kicking things off with some simple sharing, you’ll ensure that the meeting is mutually beneficial and you’ll set the stage for deeper collaboration down the road.

Later, you can use this time to discuss many of the things outlined below, such as campaign planning, campaign feedback, customer insights, etc.

2. Recognize the value and necessity of both marketing and sales

Especially when it comes to junior hires, you shouldn’t assume that people know what the other side actually does every day.

But if people don’t understand the other department’s work, then how can they help one another?

It’s important that both teams really understand what each other brings to the table. How you go about this will depend on your situation. You might start off a meeting by having everyone brainstorm the superpowers of the other team. Or you might have senior leaders explain their team’s value.

Scott Tower, our Customer Growth Manager, sees sales and marketing as helping at different parts of the customer journey.

You could have the best inbound engine in the world, but you’re just leaving money on the table if you don’t do some outbound, those people are at a different point in the customer journey. And if you don’t do it someone else will.
- Scott Tower, Customer Growth Manager at Proposify

Keep in mind that the further you progress through these steps and the more you work together, the more that your teams will understand what each other does.

As everyone becomes more adept at saying what they really need—for example, a sales rep asking for a guide on how to articulate the product’s ROI to prospects—team members will also get to learn more about each others’ roles. So, encourage everyone to speak up during meetings. Active participation is key.

3. Encourage collaboration at the individual level

Excellent marketing and sales alignment should occur at the individual level. For example, BDRs might work with content writers on an outbound email campaign. Or AEs might give media buyers ideas for new pain points to test.

60-70% of B2B content that gets created never gets used, and some of the time, this is because the content is irrelevant or otherwise misses the mark. By working together not only on planning but also on implementation, you can ensure that both sales and marketing campaigns are not only usable but effective.

Marketing and Sales alignment – team collaboration ideas vs individual collaboration ideas

4. Get to the bottom of any adversarial tendencies

The longer issues fester, the worse off everyone will be.

Make sure that marketing and sales leaders are listening to the complaints of their own teams (the ones that people might not want to say in front of the other department).

Are team members still disappointed with the performance of the other department? Does anyone not feel supported by the other side? Are there lingering frustrations?

Make sure you get to the bottom of any issues. For example, you might find an AE who’s overly focused on MQL issues in the past and who needs to let it go. Or you might find that marketing is struggling with data analytics and needs more help measuring results.

To work out challenges, try crafting a vision or mission statement for sales and marketing working together, and sharing this with everyone. Include a procedure on what someone should do if they feel like the vision isn’t being fulfilled. Who should they turn to for help? Where should they voice ongoing concerns?

Our BDRs bring back what they hear from customers—the real pains and problems that got people to take meetings—and they share that with the folks that write our ads and deploy our spend across social and paid channels.

5. Prioritize content and campaigns according to customer-driven needs

Our BDRs bring back what they hear from customers—the real pains and problems that got people to take meetings—and they share that with the folks that write our ads and deploy our spend across social and paid channels.

This helps us prioritize campaigns based on what customers really need. Because our teams are fully aligned, we’re now at the point where we can plan our campaigns 2-3 quarters in advance. We prioritize based on shared knowledge of customer pain points, customer goals, competitors going upmarket, etc.

6. Share and store customer insights continuously

One of the most important things you can do is systematize the way your marketing and sales teams share customer insights.

Discussing insights during a meeting is a great start, but you need to capture that information.

Try having one person own an internal wiki doc on customer needs, pain points, and desires. After new insights are shared in Slack or during meetings or after a survey, that person will then document them in an organized table, so that everyone can refer to that doc at any time.

7. Close the feedback loop between marketing and sales

There has to be a tighter feedback loop between marketing and sales.

Sales teams need to get marketing’s feedback when crafting their own outbound messaging.

Marketing teams need input from sales when coming up with campaign themes or homepage A/B tests.

A lot of this can be solved at the individual level. Make sure everyone from both sales and marketing knows who to turn to for feedback from each other. They should have a few contacts to rely on.

8. Align sales and marketing around shared metrics and data sources

Sales and marketing teams will always have their own metrics. Sales will be tracking meetings booked and marketing will be tracking SEO traffic.

But despite the many differences in micro metrics, there should be plenty of macro metrics for both teams to share.

Here are some examples of top metrics that both marketing and sales should care about:

  1. Revenue or ARR

  2. Retention rate

  3. Pipeline

  4. Average selling price

  5. Sales cycle time

  6. Win rate

Make sure that both teams are also tracking these shared metrics in the same platform, such as Domo or Tableau.

The biggest thing for me in marketing is focusing less on vanity metrics and more on shared outcomes with sales.
- Jordan Sheldrick, Demand Generation Manager at Proposify

9. Use the right tools for aligning both teams

As you collaborate together, you’ll probably need to implement new tools that really support sales and marketing alignment.

For example, you might use a platform like Drift so that sales reps can chat with prospects as they engage with various marketing content. Or you might get marketing and sales working together in Proposify to create proposal templates with optimized messaging.

“I asked myself was how can we make outbound prospecting similar to inbound? One thing we ended up doing is to trigger notifications to help BDRs know who to prospect to. So if a company that matches our ICP visits our website, the BDRs will get a notification for that company. This helps them know which companies are interested in Proposify so they can prospect to them before they sign up and become a lead.”
- Gabby Furlotte, Business Development Manager at Proposify

10. Grow the teams as more revenue and work pour in

And lastly, as you align your marketing and sales teams, you should expect your revenue to grow.

When we got fully aligned, we ran into a good problem. We had too much pipeline, and we couldn’t close all of our potential opportunities. We needed to hire more salespeople, even though this wasn’t in the year’s original budget.

Make sure you adjust your budget to your new levels of success.

You don’t want to overwork your employees and cause work-life balance issues that will ruin your alignment and cause frustration and finger-pointing all over again.

Alignment between sales and marketing is worth all of the time you’ll invest in it.

Check out our own struggles and strategies in this episode of The Closing Show.

10 Steps for Fixing Your Marketing and Sales Alignment

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