I was practically born and raised in sales. I’ve spent most of my career selling from the channel side, in other words, not the product vendor, and have had the distinct pleasure to be part of early stage sales organizations, some I even built from scratch. It just so happens that experience (building a sales organization from scratch)  was at the company I had the opportunity to start from nothing altogether.

I’ve worked under several leaders throughout my career, all of whom talked to me in terms of return on investment (ROI). They each had very different interpretations of what that might mean – teaching me early on that many sales leaders have a rudimentary perspective of ROI’s true definition.

Even with my many years as part of, and later leading, sales organizations as well as a top MBA program education, my leadership perspective of ROI was still very simplistic. Simply said, whatever the investment was, I wanted my team to deliver a 10x return – that refers to any travel, any event, or any other commitment that they may make on our company’s behalf.

This year I finally made the jump from channel to lead sales and business development on the vendor side.

Not only that, but I’ve joined a marketing automation solution provider. This is where my passion lies. I wanted to lead a sales organization that puts the technology in the hands of marketers, helping close the ever increasing gap between sales and marketing’s perspective of their roles and responsibilities within the business.

At the core of this divide is the different perspectives these two departments have about marketing’s role and the department’s importance to help drive more sales and support the sales organization’s key performance indicator – revenue.

Sales will always have a hard time perceiving the value of marketing when their view of ROI remains so rudimentary. Marketing will (based on organizations that I’ve worked for in the past) work hard to put together an actual ROI from disparate data points coming from very different systems. This in fact , and in addition, is a the core of that divide.

In the past seven months, and in particular in the past two, I learned that marketing and sales organizations can see eye to eye, particularly when it comes to measuring ROI for marketing activities. That said, first we have to establish some key metrics that both departments can agree on. To me, that all starts with leadership.

I’m lucky to be working side by side with a marketing leader that has been in sales for the majority of her career. She and I both believe revenue is the key metric of our departments, driven from lead flow, retaining and growing our existing customer base.

So, marketing and sales organizations can be aligned with the right leadership, metrics, and systems in place. These systems can help one align if set up correctly and even more important, integrated well together. Therefore, do yourself a favor and before you worry about any of these points, whether you’re in marketing or sales, spend time with one another and come to an understanding and an agreement around what the ROI of marketing (and sales) activities should be.