The Marriage of Sales and Marketing: Achieving Real Alignment
Sales and marketing alignment can sometimes be like a struggling marriage—a little tense. But empathy, communication, and common ground can build a solid foundation to make this relationship work.
Any married person will tell you—relationships are not easy. Sales and marketing alignment are no exception. Instead of a traditional love story, sales and marketing can feel like an unlikely pairing, forced together under the circumstances of driving pipeline and revenue.
The truth is this partnership only works if both parties understand their overall goals and how important alignment will be to achieve them. In this article, we’ll break down the four strategies for a harmonious relationship between sales and marketing—including fostering empathy, making each other’s lives easier, and creating a safe, effective feedback loop. We’ll also drop in several practical “marriage counseling” tips you can implement right now to drive better alignment.
- 1. Marriage Counseling: 4 Strategies for Achieving Sales and Marketing Alignment
- 1.1 Foster Communication and Empathy
- 1.1.1 From the Counselor’s Desk
- 1.2 Don’t Forget Your Common Goals
- 1.2.1 From the Counselor’s Desk
- 1.3 Create a Safe Feedback Loop
- 1.3.1 From the Counselor’s Desk
- 1.4 Treat Their Projects Like Your Projects
- 1.4.1 From the Counselor’s Desk
- 2. So… Our Time Is Up. Same Time Next Week?
Humor aside, surely both marketers and sales folks alike can relate to the heightened dysfunction captured by the Sales Feed team, who perfectly demonstrate a sales and marketing “marriage.”
Marriage Counseling: 4 Strategies for Achieving Sales and Marketing Alignment
To make this marriage work, each team must take responsibility for its success. Like any good marriage, it takes two. Read on for our four strategies to help sales and marketing teams find alignment.
1. Foster Communication and Empathy
Open communication and empathy are the first steps to a great marriage of sales and marketing. We often hear stories of sales and marketing leaders disparaging each other to their respective teams. But condescension will only exacerbate rifts between the teams and make collaboration fraught.
Instead, arrange for both teams to meet regularly (weekly for leaders and/or monthly for the entire team) to share the progress of marketing campaigns and insights into the sales process. If the marketing team’s sales enablement resources are missing the mark, sales has an opportunity to share what they’re missing. When marketing needs more insights into what customers want to see more of, sales can share their wisdom. Everybody wins.
Spending time together regularly breaks down the walls between functions and allows each team to better understand the value of each other’s work. When marketing understands how sales speaks and writes, they can write better follow-up email templates. When sales has input in a marketing campaign, they can voice their ideas early and influence that campaign’s success. Not to mention, if sales knows a campaign is coming, they can effectively communicate the campaign’s message to prospects.
From the Counselor’s Desk
- Marketing teams should develop empathy for the sales process by seeking to understand how sellers speak, write, and interact with leads.
- Marketing should send team-wide updates on campaign progress or new sales enablement resources.
- Sales should ensure their praise and appreciation of marketing is loud and clear. Give credit and openly share how customers are responding to marketing efforts.
2. Don’t Forget Your Common Goals
Though it doesn’t often feel like it, sales and marketing are always working towards the same end—revenue for the business. It’s through the marriage of your two functions that the business thrives. If you’re not explicitly talking about the KPIs you hold in common, you’re unlikely to be speaking the same language.
For companies engaged in account-based marketing (ABM), you need alignment between sales and marketing in order to target your ideal customer profile (ICP). Each function must know intimately what metrics they are working towards and which of those overlaps with one another. Without a focus on common goals, you’ll find yourselves working in silos, tossing leads over the fence without a process to effectively qualify, nurture leads, and convert them into customers.
From the Counselor’s Desk
- Marketing should own a sales number, like lead conversion rate. Consider adding sales development reps (SDRs) who split their time between the marketing teams and sales team to help with this.
- Collaborate on the objectives of your ABM program and how you’ll define success. Build a shared dashboard to track and report on your success.
3. Create a Safe Feedback Loop
If you’ve fostered healthy communication and empathy between teams, feedback should not lead to hurt feelings. Sales should provide constructive feedback if marketing is sourcing leads that aren’t converting. Similarly, if sales are coming on too strong by following up with demo booking requests after webinar sign-ups, marketers should feel empowered to suggest alternatives to how those leads should be engaged with. Through this feedback loop, marketing can focus their energy on the efforts that will support sales, and sales has the appropriate context to follow up with leads and close deals.
From the Counselor’s Desk
- Carve out time in your regular meetings to exchange constructive feedback between both teams. Keep your meetings balanced (end enjoyable) by giving time to acknowledge wins and give praise.
- If sales doesn’t have context for new leads, they should reach out to marketing for background information on those new MQLs. Take the time to figure out how best to connect with new leads.
In this episode of Full Funnel, Raj and Tyler take marketing and sales to couples therapy. They break down nine tips on how sales teams can open the lines of communication and build a great relationship with their marketing counterparts.
4. Treat Their Projects Like Your Projects
Sellers should be involved in marketing projects, and marketing should have an intimate understanding of the sales process. Spend your meetings together brainstorming for marketing campaigns, running ideas by one another, and collecting prospect stories. Use a content calendar in a shared location to track when campaigns are running—sales will have an idea of what’s coming, and marketing can be sure the resources they work so hard to create are utilized.
Because both teams are working towards shared goals, it’s important to take ownership of improving processes for one another. How can you make each other’s lives easier? For example, by adding tags in their sales intelligence software, sales can further qualify the leads they receive from marketing—and help marketers learn from their recordings. That way, anyone can easily search sales calls for certain pain points, keywords, or points of interest and use those in future marketing efforts.
From the Counselor’s Desk
- Facilitate training between sales and marketing led by their respective leaders. Keep each other updated on your processes, what’s coming, and how best to collaborate. Marketing would benefit from product demonstrations or shadowing sales calls.
- Create a content creation brainstorming document for sales to drop any ideas that come up in their calls. It should be easy to find (in the same place as your campaign calendar, ICP content, etc.) and completely optional.
@salesfeed It’s a different world over there… #salesandmarketing#salesvsmarketing#salesaredope#saleslife#salesaredope♬ original sound – Sales Feed
So… Our Time Is Up. Same Time Next Week?
Every great relationship takes some work. It all starts with a foundation of communication and empathy. Mutual respect is essential as your sales and marketing teams partner on each other’s projects, exchange constructive feedback, and achieve your shared goals. In the end, sales and marketing alignment will lead to more harmonious teams and better outcomes. How’s that for couples therapy?