Sales and marketing teams haven't always gotten along. Both departments are working toward the same goals — to boost the bottom line of their respective companies — but there's a history of tension between them.
Why? Marketing teams are generally responsible for generating leads, while sales teams are in charge of converting them into paying customers. When the relationship between the two is poor, the marketing team might feel that the sales team isn't doing enough to convert the hard-earned leads that the marketing team has generated. On the other side, the sales team often feels that marketing isn't putting enough effort into generating qualified leads in the first place.
Why Sales and Marketing Alignment Matters
In an ideal situation, marketers will attract leads that are ideally suited to become customers, nurturing them until they're ready to hand them off to the sales team. The sales team will then do everything they can to convert those leads, making sure the hard work of the marketers is turned into revenue.
When this system runs smoothly, it can have enormous benefits for the company itself. Consider these statistics from Hubspot:
- When sales and marketing efforts aren't aligned, marketing teams waste their time on unqualified leads, and sales teams fail to convert them. This can cost businesses up to 10 percent in lost revenue every year.
- Companies that implemented robust smarketing efforts saw an increase in revenue of 208 percent from their marketing spending.
- When sales and marketing teams unite their goals, customer retention goes up by 36 percent, and sales win rates increase by 38 percent.
- Companies that use "dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes" see 10 percent more of their salespeople hitting their quotas.
- Sales and marketing teams working in sync make companies 67 percent more effective at closing deals.
Now, consider the status quo. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 60 to 70 percent of B2B content is never used by the sales team. Why not? Because it's not relevant to the customers for whom it was created in the first place. Because sales and marketing aren't on the same page, nearly 80 percent of leads don't convert. Worse still, sales reps ignore fully half of the marketing leads they're given under the assumption that they won't be relevant.
The Solution to Your Sales and Marketing Problems
As with so many problems in life, the answer to your sales and marketing alignment problems can be found in better communication. The core problem is this: the marketing team is producing leads that aren't likely to convert, and the sales team can't convert those leads. But the sales team isn't the one bringing in the leads in the first place, so they can't change the quality of the leads coming in.
Fixing this problem starts at the top. Leaders from both teams need to get together and discuss their shared goals. If you must, frame those goals selfishly — marketers don't want to waste their time on leads that get thrown out, and sales don't want to waste their time calling leads that won't convert.
Lack of communication costs you money, not just time. Alice Heiman, Founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC, gives an example where lack of communication wastes money. "Sales requests some collateral as a leave behind for clients. Marketing doesn't ask a single question, produces spiral-bound beautifully printed books that cost about $10 each. Not at all what sales wanted. The collateral sat under their desks for months until finally they were thrown away."
What you need is a back-and-forth. Marketing people need to meet with salespeople to learn what kind of leads are the most qualified. Salespeople have no doubt started to notice patterns in the people they talk to — maybe marketing is getting leads at companies that are simply too small to stomach your purchase price, or don't see the advantage of your software with their small workforce.
If salespeople make an effort to talk to marketing people, those problems can be eliminated. This doesn't mean that the sales department has to learn how to be marketers. It's as simple as saying, "Hey, we've been having a lot of trouble converting clients with fewer than ten employees or less than $100k in revenue." The marketers know how to change their messaging to reach the right people.
In return, the sales team should pursue every lead to the degree that both sides can agree on. Talk about how many phone calls you'll make, how many emails you'll send, what materials you'll give potential customers, the timing of all these points of contact, and when to give up on a lead. If marketing is confident that the leads they generate are being pursued, they'll get along with sales a lot better.
The Bottom Line
A misalignment between the sales and marketing teams at your company isn't just a matter of some dirty looks in the hallway and unkind gossip over lunch — it's a serious impediment to the growth and continued success of your company. Smarketing isn't just a buzzword. It's a necessity.