Marketing Insights

From Rivals to Partners: How Sales and Marketing Alignment Creates a Competitive Edge

From Rivals to Partners: How Sales and Marketing Alignment Creates a Competitive Edge

Being in marketing or sales at a B2B tech company in today’s market isn’t easy.

As my sales friend eloquently put it, “being a salesperson right now sucks.”

I understand where he’s coming from.

Two years ago he overshot quota by 2x; now he’ll be lucky if he hits any of his targets.

And marketing is feeling a similar pain.

I chatted with a VP of marketing who recently laid off 40% of the marketing team, got their budget slashed, and was still asked to somehow drive more pipeline month over month.

It’s tough out there, and while we can’t change outside factors, what we can do is align sales and marketing around shared goals to work more efficiently.  Because GTM teams that are aligned show a 24% faster growth rate and a 27% faster profit growth rate, according to Forrester.

Why is it so hard for marketing & sales to get along?

The tension between marketing and sales dates way back.

And it’s typically not the fault of any individual team member, but instead the way the business is structured.

Differing goals lead to opposing priorities

The number one sticking point between marketing and sales comes from not aligning around the same goals.

A common example is marketing being measured on number of leads they’re bringing into the business, and sales being comped on deals closed.

But if the marketing team is hitting their MQL (marketing qualified lead) goal, but sales isn’t closing enough deals, the finger pointing begins.

Marketing says that sales isn’t doing a good enough job following up with leads, while sales says the leads that marketing is generating aren’t a good fit for their product or service (aka sh*tty leads).

Though the thought behind this way of goal setting isn’t bad (more leads = more revenue), in practice, it doesn’t tend to work out.

The solution: Align both team towards a shared revenue goal.

Marketing has struggled in the past to have a goal that’s tied to revenue because there hasn’t been a shared definition around lead quality with sales (or at least not one that both teams trust).

Simply measuring the number of leads can be a good leading indicator of success, but if none of those leads are converting to revenue, then that is not a channel you want to be investing in.

And if no one is held accountable for making sure that leads are turning into pipeline and revenue, then all you’ve done is successfully hit a nice vanity metric. All surface, no substance.

Using a lead scoring tool like MadKudu allows you to use data to see which inbound leads are qualified, and likely to convert. That way marketing can get on the same page as sales on what types of leads they should be driving.

By giving both sales and marketing a shared goal that is directly related to revenue, the teams will work better together to hit that goal.

Plus, you can measure how leads are progressing through the funnel from each of your marketing channels, to make sure you’re not over indexing on leads at the expense of close won opportunities.

This is how your funnel should look if your channels is performing well. When leads increase top of funnel, SQOs and close won opps should follow suit.

Not operating from a single source of truth

Both marketing and sales teams are guilty of guessing who is a good fit for your business, without using data to back up the assumptions.

Marketers will use a point based lead scoring system that gives prospects credit for actions they assume leads to revenue, like visiting a pricing page, or downloading an ebook.

Sales will sell a huge deal to a healthcare company and think that the healthcare industry should be the focus of all upcoming go to market efforts.

What do these tactics have in common? They are not data driven.

We have so much prospect and customer data at our fingertips, but too often we’re not using any of it to make informed decisions about our target audience.

Which means neither team really trusts the others reasoning for going after certain leads, and once again marketing and sales are misaligned.

The solution: Use data to get a shared understanding of your target audience

Tools like MadKudu are able to analyze thousands of data points coming from product, marketing, and sales software and pinpoint exactly the type of prospect that is most likely to turn into a customer.

MadKudu’s AI automatically segments the top tier leads that are going to drive the majority of revenue.

That way, both sales and marketing know for a fact that leads marked “good” or “very good” are statistically more likely to lead to revenue.

Use data to get a shared understanding of your top tier leads that are most likely to convert

No open communication or set feedback loops

It’s important to have data as the foundation.

But you need qualitative feedback from both teams to build upon that layer of truth.

This helps with messaging, targeting, and campaign performance.

Both teams can offer valuable insight here.

The sales team is on the front lines. They are talking to prospects every day and seeing what is resonating with them, what pain points they are looking to solve, and which parts of the product are leading to aha moments.

Marketing is taking a wider approach. Researching where your target audience likes to hang out, what they talk about in different communities, and seeing how different ad campaigns are performing.

But without a set time to discuss these learnings, neither team gains additional knowledge.

The solution: Biweekly marketing/sales meeting

I know that people are busy, and we rarely want another meeting on the books.

But this one is crucial.

As long as you have a clear agenda, both teams will get valuable insights from this meeting.

Here’s the agenda that we use:

  • Wins for the week
  • Learnings
  • Feedback
  • Updates

This is a perfect time for sales to provide feedback on the quality of leads they are being sent.

If your team is using a transparent lead and account scoring tool, like MadKudu, marketing will be able to explain exactly why a lead was sent to sales, and make any necessary adjustments based on the feedback.

Use a transparent lead scoring software, like MadKudu, to explain why specific leads were sent to sales

Sales & marketing alignment as a tool for growth

Now that we know what’s getting in the way of alignment, and how to remedy that, let’s touch on the benefits.

  • Efficient lead generation and nurturing: Coordinated strategies generate higher-quality leads, increase conversion rates, and accelerate the sales cycle.
  • Improved messaging and targeting: Shared insights and aligned messaging enable personalized and targeted communication that resonates with customers.
  • Enhanced customer journey: Aligned sales and marketing efforts result in a seamless customer experience, from initial touch points to closing the sale.

When done right, the two teams working together will be way more successful than when the teams work in siloes.

Using tech to support alignment

Ok, you caught me. Yes, I’m interested in this topic because I’m a product marketer who works very closely with both sales and marketing. But also because I work at MadKudu, which is a predictive lead scoring software that has helped tons of B2B SaaS companies improve their sales and marketing alignment.

Check out this case studies to learn more.

Interested in learning more about how MadKudu can help? Get a demo.