Marketing & lead generation Sales management

Aligning Marketing and Sales Departments

7 min read · Listen

It's important to align marketing and sales departments. 

Very important. 

And we know this because there are many studies that show this. 

A study by an American consulting firm estimates the benefits of a correct alignment of these two departments to be a 34% increase in company revenues. 

According to another study, misalignment costs the companies that suffer from it about one thousand billion dollars per year. 

One thousand billion dollars is a whopping 12 zeros: 1,000,000,000,000. 

It's such a big problem that, according to another 2017 study, it's the third highest priority for B2B marketing departments. 

Thanks to these studies and many others, we know the importance of aligning marketing and sales

But we also know that it is very difficult to do so. 

And we know this because we have experienced it in our own flesh. 

We started working on the alignment of marketing and sales objectives and it took a lot of emails, a lot of meetings and a lot of work. 

This is just one of the email chains from one of the days: 

So we discovered that to align these two departments there are two keys, and that's what today's lesson is about.

How to align marketing and sales?

The internet is full of guides with endless lists of tips on how to align these 2 departments. 

I'll spare you the reading, there are just two conditions to align them:

  1. Align the objectives of the 2 departments and the company.
  2. Align the workflow of sales and marketing.

Aligning marketing and sales objectives with those of the company.

A few years ago, a case study was published about a Fortune 500 company that wasted $250,000 trying to improve the results of a new product line to no avail. 

At first they were wary of supply chain delays. 

They improved it, remeasured it, and the results didn't change. 

They then looked at the efforts of the sales department. 

They also worked on this area, but the results were not there. 

They finally found the key: marketing and sales were not aligned. 

While marketing had launched the product with a reduced price aimed at rapidly increasing market share, sales were structuring incentives based on maximising profit margin. 

The disaster was obvious : sales did not play with the prices of an already tight product and ended up focusing their efforts on other more achievable areas to improve their own objectives. 

The case of this company is by no means an exception.

How is marketing and sales work measured?

Almost all companies measure their sales efforts by :

  • Number of new accounts.
  • Number of agreements made.
  • Number of renewals.
  • Number of upsells.
  • Or a combination of these.

However, marketing efforts are usually measured by:

  • The numbers in the sales funnel.
  • The number of leads they get.
  • The quality of the leads they get.
  • Brand recognition.
  • Or some combination of these.

And when you have these misaligned goals, it's a perfect cocktail for departments to wage war on their own and become demotivated. 

According to Javier Llorden, a consultant specialising in sales development in B2B companies, this is one of the most important points: 


For me, marketing and sales are two fundamental, specialised and connected functions that need to be aligned into a higher entity. 

The revenue generation team. 

This alignment must be based on trust and shared, jointly defined goals. 

The solution to this problem is therefore simple: value both departments on the basis of the same objective. 

How do you unify the sales target of the 2 departments?

That's easier said than done. 

The chosen measure must be approved by the revenue generation team, which is an entity that must be formed by people from the sales team and people from the marketing team. 

For each company and each business line, the unifying goal will be the same, so you will need to collaboratively define your own goal.

Aligning the sales and marketing workflow.

Imagine this situation happening every day: The manager of a large company scans a company website and asks for more information by filling in all the data on a form. 

The manager then receives various relevant documents which he or she reviews before speaking to someone in the sales department. 

From there, things get complicated: The salesperson has not seen all the data entered, so the manager has to repeat most of it. 

Also, what the salesperson says and recommends does not perfectly match what the manager has seen in the documents and on the website. 

There is starting to be some friction. 

For clarity, the manager requests an official quote from the vendor, who sends it to him. 

However, a few days later and from marketing, the manager receives a different offer by e-mail. 

Here the friction is already enormous. 

In sales to small businesses or individuals, this problem almost never arises: these are quick sales that are almost always 100% self-service on the web. 

However, key accounts frequently and unpredictably move from one channel to another: 

  • They read marketing emails.
  • They check the web.
  • They learn from case studies.
  • They talk to salespeople.
  • They research on social media networks.
  • And so on.

For Javier Llorden, this is also a key point: 

"The revenue generation team must also define the strategies,organisation, resources, systems and tactics to achieve the goals in each customer segment. To be more specific:

  • I would start with a common definition (marketing and sales) of the prospect lists to be obtained.
  • Defining buyer personas and their specific value propositions.
  • Define ABM (Account Based Marketing) and exit (cold emails) strategies and implement them using conversational marketing and sales systems (personalised ads, detection of our website browsing, chat with the prospect as they browse, no forms, etc.)

If our business was not digital and was just a storefront, would it make sense to spend a lot of money to get that great customer to come into our shop and when they do, instead of recognising them by name and treating them in a personalised way, force them to fill out a form and tell them we will call them back? 

Clearly not, and if you don't align marketing and sales, that's what we usually do today in the digital world." 

Creating a single customer journey.

The first task in aligning the work of these departments is to align the customer journey from the moment they appear on the web to the moment they buy. 

To do this, both departments need to agree on approaches to web communication, marketing and sales. 

The key here again is the revenue generation team.

Create a clear and agreed buyer persona.

As we saw in the lesson on ABM, to be successful in large business sales, it needs to be clearly defined and agreed between departments :

  • What does the perfect prospect look like?
  • What are their problems?
  • How do we contact them?
  • In short, a buyer persona.

Creating marketing assets together.

Content marketing and case studies are a powerful sales tool for both large and small companies. 

The problem is that your efforts need to be well targeted and made available not only to the marketing that generates them, but also to sales. 

To make this possible, Ricardo Ramos, face-to-face sales expert and speaker, has a clear recipe: 

"Key account sales are very complex sales where the salesperson can't go out and sell alone, you need a lot of marketing support. 

This is where the alignment of the marketing department with the sales department is vital and decisive. 

In this sense, it is necessary to work as a team and to look for a marketing collaborator who participates in the meetings between the salesperson and the client, who helps to resolve the client's doubts and who knows the client's needs first hand. 

In this way, the marketing and sales departments will be aligned together and will be able to present a proposal that meets the specific needs of the customer in all channels. 

Through this collaboration between the two departments, the content that can be created will send a unified message to the sales department and all segments of the sales funnel can be addressed 


How do you make sure it all works?

There is only one key to ensuring that the goals of both departments are aligned and that their workflows are harmonised: Create a common management body to handle everything.

The alternative, which some companies also use, is to merge the departments directly, but in my experience it is not necessary to go that far.

This body will also be responsible for defining the overall marketing and sales plan, and this is precisely what we will see in the next lesson.

If you want to access the next lesson of the sales course, click here.

In the meantime, if you want, you can try efficy CRM, the most flexible sales tool on the market. 

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