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According to The Payoffs of Improved Sales & Marketing Alignment, from December 2016, US businesses have lost almost $1 trillion a year due to sales and marketing misalignment.

Until recent years, the traditional selling process consisted of marketers handing leads off to the sales team and then the sales going ahead in attempting to close those leads. As of today, this still remains the process, however, sales teams are now more often depending heavily on marketing teams to qualify leads and produce content that helps them tell a story and ultimately move the lead down the funnel into a paying customer.

In many cases, sales and marketing teams set their strategies and goals separately from each other. For businesses, this type of alignment is vital for organizational success. Let’s put it simply – when teams work together efficiently and effectively, they accomplish more. When sales and marketing teams are working together, both have a goal of bottom-line growth, meaning all efforts are driven towards meeting the company’s key objectives.

According to MarketingProfs, organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions experience 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.

In fact, many companies do acknowledge the power and benefits of aligned departments, yet just don’t know where to begin or are hesitant to change the current workflow between the two teams.

Let’s take a look at some key challenges…

  1. Sales Teams Ignore Marketing’s Leads and Everyone Loses

Marketing works hard to generate new leads, but sales argues that marketing doesn’t send over good leads (they’re stale or they are not a key decision maker, or they are not qualified enough from sales perspective). If the sales team decides to stop acting on marketing’s leads, it’s not due to laziness, but rather the fact that they don’t value the leads sent in by marketing. We’ve seen this happen in many cases where marketing is introducing new lead sources (such as launching social media campaigns for lead generation), and sales don’t trust these sources yet or marketing’s ability to generate leads that are worth their time.

Marketing should either prove to sales that the leads they generate are worth the effort, or marketing should generate better leads  Either way, this situation can’t be left alone simply because when leads are ignored, deals don’t close, marketing becomes frustrated and tension continues to grow – creating a poisonous work environment. Beyond that, marketers that can show marketing impact on pipeline get higher budget as a percentage of company’s revenue and have a better chance to get a seat at the executive table.

  1.  Misaligned Goals Creates Demotivation

According to Harvard Business Review, when two goals are misaligned, it reduces the sales force’s perception that they can achieve either goal. This is demotivating and can reduce their commitment to the organization. Companies then begin to misfire and initiatives required to support and sustain profitable growth get into deep trouble.

So why can’t sales and marketing see eye to eye and where does this problem stem from? One issue is that sales people underestimate the contribution (both actual and potential) of marketing to their success. According to Hubpsot, sales professionals have no idea that there is a direct and indirect correlation when it comes to digital content and that same confusion also exists at the top of the sales funnel, as sales professionals can’t see how content will increase the probability of winning a deal. On another hand, marketing and sales professionals have very different personalities as sales get activities done with a “what’s in it for me” attitude and marketers don’t realize that they are actually responsible more so for the sales success.

  1.  When Marketing Ignores Feedback from Sales, Nothing Changes

Marketers tend to underestimate the value offered from sales teams, yet one of the most valuable sources of customer data comes from salespeople. Marketers need to learn how to improve leads and without any critics from the sales team, the entire organization suffers. When a sales professional has difficulty converting leads into customers and marketers have no idea why, all they do is blame each salesperson, when instead, marketers need to improve their lead nurturing process.  

If these bad habits continue, organizations will end up paying a heavy cost (as we mentioned above how businesses lose trillions in revenue). Aligning the goals of the marketing team and the compensation strategies of the sales department is a necessary step in closing deals.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that at the end of the day, marketing needs to know more about sales and sales needs to know more about marketing who both eventually need to see through the eyes of their customers.

Summary

In order to remain a successful organization, both teams must focus their strategies and actions on the buyers’ problems and opportunities, however, as you can see, it isn’t enough. Alignment and well defined processes and incentives turn it into a reality. In other words, either work together or don’t work at all.