What is sales and marketing alignment?
Sales and marketing alignment refers to all of the ways these two departments work together to drive, capture, nurture, and close leads. Aligned teams share common goals and metrics, collaborate within the same software, utilize customer data to the fullest, and support each other through creating campaigns and revamping processes.
Examples of sales and marketing alignment
What does sales and marketing alignment really look like?
Let’s dive in. Below, we’ve got real-world examples of how sales and marketing teams are supporting each other every day.
How sales helps marketing
Here are some examples of real ways that sales teams can support marketing efforts:
Persona refinement - Sales teams talk to ideal customers every day. They can help marketers better understand ICPs (Ideal Customer Profile) and develop details that bring personas to life.
Lead and campaign criteria - Experienced account executives or sales leaders can determine the criteria for marketing-qualified leads. This way, marketers can accurately optimize campaign creatives and budgets.
Content distribution - Marketing teams can rely on sales reps to share great content via their LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media channels and directly with leads.
Customer introductions - When they need to interview customers, marketing teams can ask sales reps for relevant introductions based on the contacts they’re looking for.
Research for content creation - Sales reps have a ton of insights they can share with marketers to help them create better content. Especially for smaller projects where customer research isn’t needed, sales reps can act as the voice of the customer.
Competitor intelligence - Sales reps know which competitors people are switching to or considering. This data is invaluable for all sorts of marketing campaigns.
Market trends - Sellers can also provide marketers with market intelligence, like current trends, common pain points, new technology, customer goals, etc.
Referral or affiliate program growth - Because they have a direct relationship with customers, sellers can often be more successful at enrolling people in the referral or affiliate program than marketing broadcasts.
How marketing helps sales
And of course, marketing returns the favors. 😊
Here are examples of how marketing teams assist sales:
Lead generation - A high-performing marketing team ensures that sales executives aren’t dependent completely on outbound campaigns, but can rely on inbound demand as well.
Sales enablement - Marketing teams can create buyer’s guides, competitor comparison pages, blog posts, online courses, templates, case studies, and other materials that will help the sales team nurture and educate their leads.
Cold email or call script writing - Marketing teams can provide on-brand email templates, cold calling scripts, direct message templates, and more to help sales teams test and optimize their messaging.
Targeted campaigns - When the sales team wants to target a new niche, industry, geographical market, or other buyer segment, the marketing team can run paid and organic campaigns to deliver a higher volume of leads than what the sales team could achieve alone.
Account-based marketing - ABM marketers can run multichannel marketing campaigns to target key accounts online and offline, delivering interested buyers to account executives.
Marketing data insights - Through A/B testing and lead acquisition data, marketing campaigns provide a wealth of information on the pain points and benefits customers are currently responding to. Sales teams can implement these insights in their own messaging.
Lead scoring - Marketing teams can implement lead scoring in their CRM, email marketing, or conversational marketing platforms to help sales reps automatically identify which leads to prioritize.
Lead handoff - Passing off marketing-qualified leads quickly—and with the maximum amount of data and context-—ensures that sales reps can make the most of every opportunity.
Benefits of sales and marketing alignment
There’s a reason why sales and marketing alignment is so buzzworthy. It offers a ton of benefits to the organizations that get it right.
Implementation of customer data
In today’s world, data is gold. You don’t want to waste it. Sales and marketing teams that work well together have a single source of truth for customer data so that each team can use it to the fullest—whether automating campaigns or reaching out directly with custom messaging.
Utilization of marketing assets
Marketing assets that don’t get used equal a ton of wasted effort and missed opportunities. But when sales teams are plugged into marketing, they know about the existing assets, utilize them, and request the creation of new assets according to customer needs.
Faster lead handoffs
Inefficient lead handover processes can lead to days-long waits, but when your teams are better aligned, reps can respond to leads in under two hours.
The quicker your sales team responds to leads, the better your chances for acquiring that customer-—instead of letting them fall into the hands of your competitors.
Lower customer acquisition cost
Well-aligned teams can drive favorable metrics, including a lower customer acquisition cost (CAC). Marketing teams that regularly communicate with sales can collect the customer-centric insights they need to target the segments that are most likely to convert. They can also use sales-informed messaging that reflects current trends, pain points, and goals.
Reliable revenue growth
Sales and marketing alignment yields consistent, incremental growth. Teams that work together are better at identifying issues in the customer journey and making regular optimizations. They’re also more skilled at implementing fixes and recommendations.
Time savings and efficiency
Misaligned teams double up on each other’s work, spend forever locating resources, and fail to complete projects.
On the flip side, aligned teams eliminate waste by utilizing existing data, tech, assets, and other resources. They save time and get key tasks handled more efficiently.
11 tips and best practices for aligning your sales and marketing teams
Ready to align your sales and marketing teams like never before?
Follow these essential tips and best practices.
1. Create shared goals
Of course, they’ll still have their own aims, but both teams must have shared goals. This is essential for meaningful alignment with big revenue impacts.
Examples of shared goals include increasing the number of new users for a software product or increasing the number of new clients for a service. The goals could get more granular, such as increasing the number of clients from a particular market, industry, or other segment. Both teams should have a clear implementation plan for how they will contribute towards the goals.
2. Track each other’s metrics
It’s also important for each team to have visibility into each other’s metrics. If the sales team is getting fewer leads than they’re used to, they should be able to check current marketing campaign stats to spot the root of the problem. This will provide greater context and make troubleshooting conversations more effective.
On the other side of the coin, marketers should be able to see how many of the leads they deliver are closed. This will help them see the value of their efforts and provide optimization data for improving lead quality.
Offer access to these key sales and marketing metrics:
Number of MQLs
Number of SQLs
MQL to SQL conversion rate
Website traffic volume
Website traffic sources
Conversion rate from website visitor to lead for key pages
Engagement rates with key assets
Total marketing spend
Number of new customers acquired
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
CLV compared to CAC
Total revenue generated by sales
Total pipeline value
Lead-to-customer conversion rate
Average deal value
Average lead response time
Customer churn rate
Customer satisfaction ratings (CSAT and/or NPS)
Each team will have the data they need to find room for improvement and continuously optimize their efforts.
3. Improve proposal content and processes
To win new clients, your proposals should be on brand. When improving alignment, it’s a good idea to give the marketing team visibility into the proposal content that the sales team is sending.
Does everyone have a consistent proposal template that they’re using?
Can sellers pull from a library of approved content to mix and match pages as needed?
Are sellers able to put together proposals quickly and easily?
Work together to create accurate, compelling proposal content that’s accessible to all sellers. If you don’t have a solution in place for templates, approval processes, and proposal metrics, consider implementing proposal software.
4. Set up regular meetings
There should be a weekly meeting between sales and marketing to go over:
Shared goals and metrics
What’s working well
What needs improvement
In-progress collaborative projects
Requests for help and support from the other team
Depending on the size of your organization, it might be fruitful to have all marketers and sellers join the weekly meeting—or you might be better off involving just the senior management.
Aim for fewer than 5 people at the regular meeting so it stays on track. You can always involve other roles in project-specific or campaign-specific meetings (more on integrated campaigns later).
5. Create a system for inter-department requests
There are many ways for sales and marketing teams to support each other. While you want communication to flow freely through these departments, you don’t want it to flow so freely that important requests get lost in Slack.
Create an Asana or Trello board where anyone from your sales and marketing teams can add requests to a “request” or “backlog” column. They might ask for help understanding a key metric, writing a downloadable guide, or interviewing a specific type of customer.
Then, during their weekly meeting, the head of marketing and head of sales can chat through recent requests, approve them, and later assign them to people on their team.
6. Consolidate your tech stack and communication
Get everyone on the same page by consolidating your tech stack as much as possible. You should have a single source of truth for customer data. Ideally, both your sales and marketing team will work within the same CRM to manage lead handoff, lead scoring, lead nurturing, and more.
Your sales and marketing team should also have instant access to each other via a platform like Slack, where they can communicate about in-progress projects and goals.
7. Pull messaging from the CEO
When disagreements about brand voice or value propositions arise, it can be difficult to know who gets the final say. Truthfully, messaging should always come straight from the CEO. Make sure both teams have access to the CEO for persona refinement, strategic targeting, and USPs. Refer to CEO-led messaging strategy in the event of misaligned copy or content.
8. Set up quarterly shared projects
Sales and marketing teams should work together on shared projects regularly. (This is in addition to the work they’re doing to support each other’s core objectives.)
Shared projects give your company a competitive edge while ensuring that every marketer and sales rep has a chance to work with people from the other departments. Sales and marketing alignment requires a true culture shift, which can only happen when people are actually interacting.
Here are some examples of how sales and marketing teams can work together:
Integrated marketing campaigns - Assemble a multi-function team to tackle an important quarterly marketing campaign, like new ABM ads or a lead-generating virtual event.
Sales enablement - Challenge your sales and marketing teams to develop next-level sales enablement materials every quarter. Drive innovation through customer research and create helpful resources like buyer’s guides, implementation guides, templates. etc.
Process improvements - Create a goal to improve one element of your sales and marketing alignment each quarter, like implementing a new tool, utilizing a new CRM feature, or creating updated proposal content. Then, assemble a multi-function team to complete the project or help train others.
9. Structure your organization to foster alignment
Team structure has a big impact on alignment. To naturally foster collaboration, many companies have changed who the revenue-generating teams report to. The chief revenue officer (CRO) is a role that has seen a lot of growth in recent years. Many chief marketing and sales officers report directly to the CRO, who coordinates and ensures alignment between these important departments.
If you’ve been struggling with alignment issues for a long time, you might want to reroute who the department heads are reporting to. The CEO is often too busy to strategize collaboration between these teams. CROs can devote much more of their focus to integrating tech stacks and campaigns.
10. Troubleshoot problems together
Rather than each team only looking at their own data and projects, your teams will be able to analyze the entire customer journey and find sticking points and major funnel drop-offs.
These insights should already be accessible through some of the strategies shared above, but you might want to set up a special task force to make it even easier to uncover the right data and find the source of the problem.
11. Align other customer-facing and revenue-driving teams
Sales and marketing alignment is critical because it drastically affects revenue.
But there are other teams whose mutual collaboration is essential to company success. Depending on your industry, you might also want to align your product teams, innovation teams, customer support, and customer success teams around shared goals.
Any team who touches the customer or develops products should not operate in a silo. They should share customer data and insights, while also learning from your revenue-driving teams.
Take control of the proposal process with Proposify
Sales and marketing teams can work together to create on-brand proposal content for sellers to mix and match. Sales leaders gain unprecedented control and visibility into the proposal process, optimize content, track pipeline, and proactively assist big deals.