Solving the problem of sales and marketing misalignment

Marketers and sales representatives often find themselves at odds with each other because of their different perspectives on internal processes. While marketers are primarily seen as responsible for Internet lead generation, this often creates tensions with the sales department when the leads aren’t the right quality. However, the situation can quickly become exacerbated by sales employees not giving any feedback on the leads, causing the marketing team to continue to pursue the same type of prospects. If sales and marketing misalignment is allowed to continue unchecked, it could create further problems for your organization down the road, including a loss of revenue. Managers need to address the underlying causes of sales and marketing tensions to prevent serious issues from happening.

If you’re still not convinced on the importance of bringing these two teams together, recent research has suggested this should be a priority. Citing data from Marketing Profs’ “Sales and Marketing Alignment Benchmark Report,” Entrepreneur contributor Renee Yeager wrote that companies with aligned sales and marketing teams have a 36 percent higher customer retention rate and 38 percent higher sales-close rates compared to firms that don’t maintain this partnership between the two teams. However, it can be tricky to foster this relationship within an organization because many executives don’t trust the marketing division and don’t see a clear way to measure return on investment.

Lead generation: The source of revenue and issues

Many of the problems between the sales and marketing departments can be traced back to lead generation. After acquiring contact information for leads, marketers often hand them over to sales without any kind of formal nurturing efforts. Because the B2B sales cycle is getting longer and more complex, these prospects most likely are not ready to buy right away. They may even be frustrated that sales reps are contacting them too soon. Lead nurturing is crucial to win the deal, but there may be some disagreement about whether this is a sales or marketing responsibility. In truth, both teams are responsible for some elements in this process, but they need the right technology in place to make campaigns more effective.

The marketing team should use an integrated marketing solution to send emails with relevant content to prospects. In addition, these platforms enable more accurate lead scoring, which can provide an indication of how much nurturing a prospect needs. Certain actions, like engaging with product pages or a company’s blog, can trigger a change in the score and tell marketers that the buyer may be ready to talk to someone from sales. However, potential customers still may not be ready to buy at this point. Sales reps can take a more active role in building the relationship with these individuals, since this connection will be necessary to close the deal.

Don’t rely too heavily on technology

Although an integrated marketing environment can help bring sales and marketing departments together, it can’t serve as a crutch for deep-seated issues. For example, these two teams need to have a shared set of metrics and align their processes to the customer’s journey, according to an article for Business 2 Community written by Ron Mattocks. The efforts can pay off, though. Mattocks cited data from Aberdeen Group, which found 99 percent of businesses with aligned sales and marketing teams meet their annual sales quotas. These same companies were able to increase revenue as well. However, executives can’t implement marketing automation in hopes that it will solve the sales and marketing misalignment crisis. Your firm will only get the full benefits if you solve some of the underlying issues, such as defining what makes a quality lead.

Sales reps and marketers may have different ideas of which buyer behaviors are the most important. You need to be as detailed as possible to make sure the marketing team isn’t handing leads over too soon. Communication between the two departments is one of the most important ways to resolve problems. If the leads aren’t qualified, the sales team needs to be clear about why so marketers can focus on attracting the right kind of prospects. It’s a mistake to think sales and marketing alignment will happen overnight, similar to how technology won’t generate instant results unless it has been correctly implemented.

An integrated marketing environment can alleviate some of these issues, especially because both teams will have access to the same data. This can increase visibility into the buyer’s journey, allowing marketers to target prospects with more relevant content. These tools give both teams the ability to pull reports. This can keep both teams more accountable for their results. Are marketers generating quality leads? Is the sales team converting these prospects? Bringing the two teams closer together can help your company win more businesses.