Sales and Marketing Alignment: What This Means for Growth in 2023
When it comes to growing your brand, your Sales and Marketing teams should be leading the charge. To do so effectively, they must be working in tandem like a well-oiled machine. Failing to achieve this working relationship leads to missed sales opportunities and lost revenue. Needless to say, misalignment between these two teams can make or break a brand entirely. That is why developing a Sales and Marketing alignment strategy is mission-critical.
Despite these truths, many organizations still suffer from misaligned sales and marketing efforts—and pay the price for it in more ways than one. Their sales and marketing teams may, unbeknownst to each other, have completely different targets and goals. This results in them playing an invisible game of tug-of-war which ultimately translates to lost sales and leads, inefficient strategies and processes and poor returns on investments. Believe it or not, this misalignment is pinpointed as the #1 cause of a brand’s revenue decline or stagnation.
Historically, marketing and sales teams have been seen as brands’ anchors. When things are going well, it’s usually a result of the joint efforts of both teams—and they receive credit as such. Conversely, they’re also the first to be pressured to find new quality leads when things take a turn.
Fortunately, you can minimize the latter distress dramatically with calculated preventative measures. By prioritizing sales and marketing alignment, a brand can improve its deal closures by a whopping 67%, while marketing tactics and assets can provide 209% more value to consumers. Addressing the disconnect between sales and marketing teams can increase your brand’s revenue, boost conversion rates and foster deeper relationships with your target customers.
What is Sales and Marketing Alignment?
To understand the importance of sales and marketing alignment, you must first distinguish them and establish their roles in a company’s growth. As a whole, sales and marketing work towards the shared goal of acquiring as many customers as possible to boost the brand’s revenue. However, the strategies that they employ to achieve these goals are different and may sometimes contradict each other. This disconnect is what keeps brands from growing.
Think of marketing as a lure, sales as a fisherman and potential customers as fish. Marketing comes up with assets and collaterals that spark interest in customers, while the sales team reels them in. Marketing's job is to make consumers aware of what a brand has to offer. They’re responsible for attracting customers and encouraging them to learn more about a brand. Sales, on the other hand, is responsible for further engaging a prospect before turning them into a customer.
The movement towards sales and marketing alignment has paved the way for the emergence of “smarketing”. This quirky term refers to the process of combining the efforts of both sales and marketing teams, establishing shared metrics to monitor and aim for and instilling equal responsibility for achieving business goals. By integrating sales and marketing processes and necessitating open communication, businesses have a much higher chance of aligning the two.
It’s also imperative to know what each team needs from the other. As a customer funnels through the buyer journey, they naturally shift from marketing to sales. Free-flowing, full-picture information makes this passing of the torch as smooth as possible. However, too often neither team receives the information they need to empower their respective strategies. Sales-marketing alignment aims to fix exactly that.
Furthermore, sales teams want to have more insight into the marketing funnel and how it works. The better understanding they can gain, the more equipped they’ll be to nurture leads. Given that, it’s no surprise 39% of salespeople consider having deeper insight into prospects’ “upper-funnel activities” their #1 priority—and that it can be best provided by their marketing counterparts.
Marketing teams, on the other hand, want to have more insights into the lower-funnel activities of their prospects. They also want sales teams to use their CRM (customer relationship management) tool more consistently to provide customers with a more cohesive customer service experience.
Understanding what each team needs is the first step to closing communication gaps. This will, in turn, help you align both teams and devise a cohesive strategy to drive brand growth.
Sales-Marketing Alignment and the Customer Journey
The customer journey refers to all of the interactions (both direct and indirect) a consumer has with your brand, from start to finish. It’s important to acknowledge that no two customer journeys are exactly alike. Yet, you still need to leave a consumer with a lasting impression every step of the way to encourage them to purchase from you.
Granted, consumer and organization purchasing behaviors are different today than they were a decade ago. As the world continues to evolve and produce new technologies and tools, so does the customer journey. Now that the buying cycle has become more complex, traditional sales and marketing tactics no longer work as they once did.
This is why access to accurate customer data is essential to both sales and marketing teams. Aligning both teams and ensuring they are cohesively working towards the same goals sets the stage for growth. Here are some of the key benefits of pursuing sales and marketing alignment.
Better customer experience
An excellent customer experience is built on having accurate customer data. As stated, there comes a time in every buyer’s journey when a customer will transition from the marketing team to the sales team. Having synchronized teams smoothens this transition and equips both with a better understanding of what their customers need and want. Knowing how to address customers’ pain points while meeting their needs is key to providing a great customer experience.
Increase in revenue
Ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are on the same track will increase your revenue. That’s because operating as two wheels of the same bike, rather than separate entities altogether, fosters a smoother buyer’s journey. A boost in sales may very well indicate strong collaboration between the two departments
Improved synergy between team members
When teams and members are on the same page, they’re more aware of their respective roles, contributions and the bigger picture they’re trying to achieve. Alignment allows them to see how they can better support one another, which helps them work more smoothly as a team. Additionally, their shared data provides them with more insight into their target customers. This will allow them to develop a strategy that is more likely to draw engagement and drive conversions.
Shortened sales cycle
A lengthy sales cycle is common in the realm of B2B consumers. It takes a lot of learning and decision-making before a B2B client finally pulls the trigger. Sales and marketing alignment can shorten the process by instantly providing clients with the information they’re after and addressing pain points faster.
Understanding The Customer Journey
There are five stages in a customer’s journey: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention and Advocacy.
The awareness stage is at the top of the funnel. Here, customers are made aware of your brand or product. Marketing typically kickstarts the customer journey through advertising and word-of-mouth marketing. Awareness triggers the entire customer journey and therefore breathes life into the business as a whole. You can’t buy something you don’t know exists!
Continuing down the funnel, the consideration stage is when the consumer realizes they have an existing pain point. They want to find a solution for this pain point, so they are assessing whether or not to purchase from your brand. Here, they may need more information to encourage them to purchase. This is the stage your customer will likely chat with your sales representative or request additional resources from your brand.
Here, a customer pursues a purchase. Reaching this part of the funnel means you have already done enough to drive a sale. However, whether or not you created a lasting impression on your customer is a different story. It is important to note that the customer journey does not end with the sale. You still need to nurture your relationship with your customer after the sale to stay in good standing, address any post-purchase problems and enjoy the free publicity of customer referrals down the road.
After purchasing your product, your customer then puts it to the test. If your product is effective, you have a higher chance of retaining your customer. This is the stage where you can ask for feedback, as well as provide your customer with product tips to get the most out of their new purchase.
This final stage of the customer journey is advocacy. At this point, you have either encouraged a customer to advocate for you or against you. This is the sum of your customer’s experiences with you from start to finish. That is why keeping a consistent image, voice and quality of service across all touchpoints is of top priority.
As you might guess, the five stages of the customer journey require support from both sales and marketing teams. To better understand the customer journey, you must know what makes your target customer tick. This means stepping into their shoes to determine their needs, wants and pain points. Grasping these key identifiers is pivotal to marketing viable solutions.
Similarly, when a customer looks to purchase a product, they typically do so because they have an existing problem that needs fixing. As a brand, you need to showcase your value and present your product or service as the best solution for your target customers.
Though no two customer journeys are identical, gathering substantial data on your target customers’ behaviors will enable you to satisfy as many as possible. This is a key part of marketing, as it provides your team with the information they need to craft high-quality, engaging strategies that authentically resonate with your target audience.
Provide a Great Customer Experience
Just as you expect from the businesses you patronize, your customers expect to have consistently high-quality interactions with yours. That can only be achieved through sales and marketing alignment.
Moreover, today’s customers respond best to a personalized sales experience, which you can only deliver after gaining a deep understanding of what they really want. Here are some ways you can deliver an excellent experience for all your customers:
Your customers need to know that you genuinely care about them and do not see them as just a walking dollar sign. This entails anticipating their needs and personalizing their experiences. After all, 80% of customers have noted that they are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides them with a personalized shopping experience.
Personalizing their experience can mean sending out personalized messages or tailored ads. Even something as simple as addressing your customers by their names can work wonders. Personalization helps build trust and engagement, which can later translate into sales.
Do deep research into your target customer
To provide an excellent customer experience, you need to know what makes your target customer tick. Luckily, this is no longer a guessing game as it once was. Gathering data enables you to craft an experience that directly addresses your customers’ pain points without introducing new ones. Meeting these needs instills a deeper relationship with your customers while cementing you as an industry authority.
Furthermore, use data analytics to gather actionable insights. Assess the content you have already put out to see which content pieces resonated the most with your target audience. You should also segment your customer base to create more targeted content. For example, if your company has both online and offline stores, your approach toward your online customers should differ from your approach toward your offline customers.
Leverage digital tools
Technology is meant to help you elevate the customer experience. With digital tools in your arsenal, you can gather deeper insight into your target audience and provide them with a more holistic shopping experience. Remember, customers are looking for value. You can position yourself as such with Ingage’s visually stunning, engaging digital presentation software.
As mentioned, data is an important part of creating an exceptional customer experience. However, there is tons of data to sift through, and it is nearly impossible to analyze every data point manually. Digital tools can help you pinpoint patterns and provide you with actionable insights to optimize your strategies and campaigns.
Part of showing empathy and doing deep research on your target audience is gathering feedback. By asking for feedback from your customers, you can measure and assess your brand’s performance to determine areas for improvement. You can use digital tools to help you gather and analyze this data.
Additionally, good feedback can act as invaluable social proof. Many companies share good feedback from their customers on their websites to show prospects that the brand is both reputable and trustworthy. Customers are more likely to purchase from brands that have a good reputation, and feedback can even help boost your site’s presence on search engines.
Create a customer persona
A great customer experience entails your team knowing your target customers from the inside out. Creating a customer persona will help you step into your customer’s shoes. By coming up with your target customer’s likes, dislikes, hobbies and demographics, you can determine how to best reach them and address their pain points.
The Complications of Successful Sales and Marketing Alignment
Above all else, aligning sales and marketing has one overarching goal: to create efficient strategies that will generate the best results. By leveraging data gathered by the two teams and streamlining their processes, you can gain deeper insight into the customer journey and create campaigns that resonate more authentically. However, the process of sales and marketing alignment is rarely so simple.
While the two share similar goals of helping the brand grow and boost its revenue, they inherently differ in structure. Members from each team have a different set of processes, motivations and skills that need to be evaluated during the alignment.
Because of their differences, some challenges are bound to arise when sales and marketing are put together. Here are the issues most commonly faced by companies attempting to align their sales and marketing teams:
Lack of Understanding and Communication
Because these two teams are different, issues with communication and understanding are bound to arise. Either team may struggle to comprehend the other’s actions and motivations, making it essential for everyone to be fully transparent. The move towards sales and marketing alignment will go that much smoother if both teams commit to sharing customer insights from the jump.
Sharing pertinent, yet all-encompassing information enables both teams to devise a winning strategy that works for both of them. Such data sharing prompts knowing where to focus and what type of campaigns will produce the desired results. Here are some steps you can take to facilitate smoother communication between your team members:
Have a designated messaging platform
Teams need a way to reach each other, especially if some or all work remotely. A designated messaging platform will allow members to instantly communicate with one another. It can also provide team members with a platform to scroll through in case they need to look for reminders or important updates.
Do team-building exercises
Team-building exercises will help your team get more comfortable and therefore foster a better working relationship. As sales and marketing were two completely separate teams before the alignment, they need time to familiarize themselves with their new team members. Team-building activities are an excellent way to break the ice and help team members get in sync with one another.
Provide formal training for communication
Formal communication training is highly recommended within the alignment process. This type of training will expose the members of each team to different communication styles, which may help them determine the style that works best for them.
Wrong Focus, Different Priorities
Companies must have a top-down approach to achieving the alignment they so desire. This begins with ensuring everybody, across every team, shares the same priorities. There are likely many things your company is looking to achieve, but it is important to create a hierarchy of which to prioritize above others. Outlining them is crucial to giving your sales and marketing teams direction.
Most of the time, marketing teams want to acquire leads. Sales teams, on the other hand, aim to close sales. If these two teams share the same priorities, they’re set up to pass the torch without a hitch. Marketing acquires a quality lead via a strong campaign while sales closes the deal with a killer pitch—a grand slam, if you will.
Conversely, however, a disconnect between these two teams could look more like Marketing acquiring leads that just don’t translate to sales. Sales would then end up engaging with poor-quality leads, ultimately draining their time and resources with little-to-no reward.
That’s why the main priority of the two teams must be to conjure efficient and effective methods to acquire quality leads that can convert to sales. With a solid strategy in place, your team will be able to work together seamlessly and achieve your business goals in no time.
While sales and marketing alignment is a must for all companies, the process must be gradual. Diving in too quickly without a solid strategy in place is a recipe for disaster. Team members may not fully understand what their main task is or what responsibilities they will be handling moving forward. This can also lead to inefficiencies and redundancies down the line. Here are some ways you can help your team members better understand their roles:
Outline the company’s needs and objectives
Your team members need to know what they are working towards to be most efficient at their jobs. Outlining the company’s needs and objectives sets you up to assign people according to their strengths and set a working timeline to achieve these objectives. Additionally, this will help guide the team as they develop and navigate campaigns.
Hold regular alignment meetings
Knowing who is handling what is key to understanding individual roles and responsibilities in a company. A sales and marketing alignment meeting will inherently foster transparency, as it allows each team member to share where they are in their tasks. Alignment meetings are great opportunities to raise questions and propose clarifications, as well as discuss areas that team members may need extra support.
Go digital, again
It’s no surprise that digital tools can help you manage your team more efficiently. Project management software can help the team keep track of important tasks while providing a workflow overview. It can also be used to track project progress to help team members stay on top of deadlines and schedules.
Presentation software like Ingage is invaluable to your team. With Ingage, you can collaborate on interactive and engaging presentations for both internal and external purposes. This will help you disseminate information more digestibly, allowing you to resonate more deeply with your target audience.
Internally, you need to make sure each member of your team is well-informed of their duties and responsibilities. Clear delegations will also help your team work more harmoniously, making the sales and marketing alignment process that much smoother.
Creating a Winning Strategy
A winning strategy requires openness and active participation from all team members. Sales and marketing alignment can only happen if each team member is aware of their strengths, weaknesses and everything in between, after all. Fortunately, you can overcome the challenges that arise throughout the sales and marketing alignment process by streamlining your day-to-day operations.
Once your team gets into its groove, you can create stronger, more effective campaigns that help your business grow. Follow these tips to craft a winning strategy for your team:
Find the right tools for your team
Leveraging digital tools can help you devise a winning strategy. With digital tools in place, you can sift through and analyze heaps of data to gain deeper insight into what works best for your business. For example, analytics can clue you in on the type of content that clicks with your audience by breaking down engagement metrics.
AI tools can also help with your content production process. Today’s sales and marketing strategies heavily rely on content, as consumers spend more and more time on their digital devices. Fret not! Presentation software like Ingage uses AI to create intelligent, personalized presentations for clients and consumers across all industries.
Define shared KPIs
KPIs, or key performance indicators, are tangible measurements of how well your teams are progressing. While sales and marketing are intrinsically different, several KPIs can be used to analyze both teams. For example, you can set that a certain percentage increase in sales is indicative that your strategy is successful.
Smashing KPIs is a surefire way to know your team is on the right path. This will help your sales and marketing teams stay driven to work towards a shared goal. Additionally, hitting KPIs will boost your team’s morale and encourage them to keep working together. Numerical validation goes a long way, even in people-first sectors.
Agree on a singular voice
Terminologies can differ from team to team, and customers may not always benefit from hearing them. Even members from different teams stand to misunderstand each other. That is why your teams must agree on common definitions early on in the alignment process.
Additionally, you should ensure that your team’s approach to your customers is consistent across all touchpoints. This means having the same brand voice whether you are engaging with them online or offline. Language, tone and style are everything. Aligning them smooths the customer experience and enables team members across various departments to work in harmony.
Components of Sales-Marketing Alignment
Now that you know the importance of sales and marketing alignment, it’s time to put it all into practice. The three key components of effective sales and marketing alignment are goals, respective roles and systems and technology. Ironing these elements out and getting them well-established will smoothen the alignment process and promote quality collaboration.
Sales and marketing alignment is viewed as the #1 catalyst for company growth, and it rests on creating shared goals for both teams. Both teams must be aware of every stage of the buyer’s journey, and their end goal must be to drive a purchase. While undergoing the alignment process, encourage your team to come up with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals that propel the company forward.
Marketing, for example, would typically handle the buyer’s Awareness stage. They develop assets that showcase your brand’s products and highlight your brand’s value, which, when done correctly, pique the customer’s curiosity. Sales can gather data from this stage to better inform their sales pitches and ultimately close more deals.
Sales and marketing must also work together to define their overall process. The three elements they need to agree on and strategize with are lead generation metrics, service level agreements and lead scoring. These will strengthen the sales and marketing teams’ shared strategy to perform as optimally as possible.
2. Respective Roles
Determining the respective roles of each team member will increase visibility across both teams. Marketing team members must work towards building awareness and gaining reach across digital and physical spaces. Sales team members must focus on the bottom of the funnel to see how they can drive customers to purchase. They will also be responsible for taking care of customers post-purchase.
3. Systems and Technology
Sales and marketing alignment will require systems that accommodate the streamlined workflows and digital tools that help smoothen the process. Marketing teams are often tasked with creating content to reach out to consumers. These resources can be used by the sales team to close sales.
When prospects, especially B2B customers, inquire about a company, they usually want to see samples or case studies. Using presentation software like Ingage will allow you to provide prospects with ready-made sales presentations that showcase your work in the light it deserves. Not to mention, all of your team members will have instant access to the marketing and sales resources they need, helping them achieve business goals. Some of the content you can develop are product overviews, competition, infographics, reports, white papers, case studies, promotional offers and the like.
How to Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams
Successful sales and marketing alignment needs a strategy. Reiterate the importance of collaboration and communication to your team, and be sure to define common terms to avoid things getting lost in translation. Additionally, make use of systems and digital tools to help the alignment process soar.
During the alignment process, as with anything in business (or life, for that matter), it’s important to acknowledge that challenges will arise. The best way to tackle these challenges is to face them head-on. Preparing your team members and equipping them with the tools they need can help them address the issues that are to come. Emphasize how your teams need to work together—and then make sure they have the tools to actually do so.
Get Your Team Working Together
Teamwork makes the dream work, especially when it comes to sales and marketing alignment. Your sales and marketing teams should have regular alignment meetings, particularly at the beginning of the process. Because the merge is still new, they’ll need time to recalibrate their processes and get familiar with the new workflows. Make communication easier by scheduling regular meetings. You can gather everyone in one place for face-to-face discussions on your goals and plans, or you can hold virtual meetings to accommodate remote/hybrid team members.
Weekly syncs are a good place to start. Too often is better than too infrequent, especially when you’re overhauling old systems. In these meetings, you can open the floor for any questions, comments or concerns team members might have. You should then discuss your focus for the week, determine main tasks, and provide updates. Your team members should also be free to share any ideas for campaigns or ways to optimize the internal processes they rely so heavily on.
One tip for setting regular meetings is to find a time that works for everyone. While your company may have fixed hours, there will likely be high-traffic times when most are too overwhelmed to tune in. Some team members may also be working remotely, which may mean their work schedules differ from those of their in-office counterparts. Setting your meeting for a specific time and day each week—outside of those high-traffic hours—will help your teams arrange their schedules to be available.
Sync Your Marketing and Sales Tools
Before the alignment, your marketing and sales team may already have had tools in place to help them carry out their tasks. Make sure these tools are synchronized, so each team member is in the loop with what other team members are doing. By syncing your marketing and sales tools, you can also better keep track of your team’s activities, progress, and challenges.
Successful sales and marketing alignment requires collaboration. Syncing tools is a way to facilitate collaboration between teams. Ingage, for example, allows all team members to create shared presentations and see any changes made in real time. Team members can also leave comments and suggestions, further strengthening the spirit of collaboration.
Additionally, by syncing your marketing and sales tools, you get to provide all team members with more data. Teams can start creating strategies with a more holistic view of their target audiences, and you can eliminate pre-alignment silos. This will help your team develop and launch campaigns that resonate more deeply with your target customers—driving growth in the long run.
Equip Your Team with The Tools for Growth This Year
Now is the perfect time to kick off your sales and marketing alignment. The process can be tricky at first, but many industry leaders are reiterating how important it is for brands to grow moving forward. Alignment between the two teams can elevate the way your brand performs and can help you reach your business goals faster and more authentically.
Truly, it can’t be overstated how essential sales and marketing alignment is to fostering an exceptional customer experience. So, elevate the way your team communicates—both internally and externally—with a digital presentation tool like Ingage.
With Ingage’s creative suite, you can create sales and marketing materials to help you better connect with customers. One of the platform’s main features is seamless collaboration, which you can use to keep all your resources accessible, consistent and well-rounded. Ingage’s analytics features also help you measure and analyze performance to help you know how your team is doing.
Ingage can help your sales and marketing teams step up to the plate like never before. Learn how you can align your teams with Ingage, schedule a demo today!