Type ‘Sales and Marketing Alignment’ into Google and you’ll get 31,200,000 results. Well, here’s to 31,200,001. The difference? This post is specifically for B2B organizations with relatively small teams.
It starts with leadership.
Whether it’s the marketing leader asking the sales leader or the sales leader asking the marketing leader, both need to meet to get on the same page. The more aligned you two are, the more you’ll be able to align your teams. Set aside at least an hour to address how both teams can be better aligned (they can always be better) and agree on the following to help you get there.
Write out your processes.
Marketing and sales leaders should each go through this exercise separately and then review together. Write down everything – no detail is too small. After the writing process is complete, swap documents. Then go through them together in person. These are living documents and will require continuous updating and review. They’re not only written service level agreements (SLAs) for each other, they’re helpful for your own teams, both as a refresh for older team members and a guide for those who are new. Once they’re created, be sure that someone owns the updating process.
Tips for sales leaders.
As you map your processes, be sure to capture some key pieces of information.
- Include lead stages with a definition of each stage. Be as descriptive as possible.
- Identify the differences between a qualified and unqualified lead.
- Outline all the ways your team is acquiring leads, such as inbound leads from marketing, outbound prospected leads, referrals, resellers and partners.
- Write about your methodology for opportunity creation. Do you subscribe to BANT, ANUM or something unique to your organization? What are all the possible questions that can be asked during the discovery phase of an opportunity?
- Include SLAs with regards to leads and opportunities. How long can an inbound lead sit before a sales rep touches it? How often do reps need to touch their leads and opportunities?
- Outline every goal you have with hard revenue targets, as well as your plan to get there. How long does the lead-to-close cycle typically take? What’s the conversion rate of sales qualified leads that become an opportunity? From there, what’s the conversion rate on how many of those opportunities close-win? Include how your reps are comped as well as any add-on bonus opportunities or spiffs.
- Last, but most important to this process for marketing: detail exactly how the entire sales process is reflected in your CRM. Stage by stage, workflow by workflow.
Tips for marketing leaders.
You may need to be the driving force behind this exercise because you need it to build your plan. Often the investment in marketing (and marketing teams) comes after a sales process is created. You need to understand this process as well as the process sales follows to become a successful, revenue-driven marketing organization. If you’re a new marketing leader to the organization, ask the sales leader for this first rather than just asking your CEO for revenue targets and marketing-specific goals. This will go a long way towards alignment. If your team and plan is already in place, re-read your plan as if you’re new to marketing. Does it make sense? If not, it’s time to re-write it.
Mapping the marketing process.
Start with the revenue targets. If you have no idea how to back into a number of leads you need to hit the revenue targets, research other organization’s benchmarks. Ask your peers outside the organization. Or, ask an analyst. (We recommend SiriusDecisions.) Rely on your sales leader to tell you how long it will take sales-qualified leads to close and at what rate. Factor that into your lead timeline. Just like the sales leader defined their lead and opportunity stages, you need to do the same for marketing leads. What does it take to become a marketing qualified lead? Or, the difference between a pre-marketing qualified lead and a cold lead?
Build your plan backwards based on the volume of leads needed to get to your target. Remember to set realistic goals that fit squarely into sales goals. You’ll also need to educate your sales leader that you’re not responsible for driving 100% of the leads and this isn’t an exact science, but be clear that you’re committed to your plan.
Show the sales leader how your budget fits into their plan. Ask for feedback on it. If they understand how the money is being spent to drive opportunity, they have a more vested interest in its success.
Clearly define the sales enablement and overall company enablement you need to do as a marketing department. Need a new website? Show the sales leader how it’s going to benefit them. Need to re-brand? Do your best to write into words how and why you’re going to go about it. (Warning: this is usually the hardest part for a non-marketer to understand.)
Re-introduce the sales leader to each person on your team and tell them exactly what they’re responsible for and how they’ll be interacting with their team.
Lastly, detail your inbound efforts and outbound campaigns through the lens of your marketing automation system. As a much newer technology, you may need to educate the sales leader on the power of marketing automation and how it fits with the CRM, from both a technology perspective (workflows) and from a people perspective (how reps can use the information marketing automation surfaces in the CRM.)
Review and refine.
The final step is to review your process documents together. Do your documents show misalignment? Even the most well-aligned organizations have room for improvement so be careful not to overlook those opportunities. Be sure to discuss each point of misalignment in detail with your counterpart. The most important part of this process is to recognize them together and agree on how to move forward. The first and most important thing you can agree on: the best demographic characteristics of a lead and activity those leads take that’s most indicative of being sales-qualified.