Sales and Marketing Alignment: Best Practices

Kristin Crabb
By Kristin Crabb

Traditionally, when asked to define the terms sales and marketing many of us would describe completely different functions of a business.

  • For sales, we may refer to the selling of goods or services and the compensation received for those sales. Or possibly, quotas that businesses must hit to deem a quarter or year a success.
  • For marketing, however, we tend to focus more on the customer and their satisfaction, or maybe recall one of the 4 P’s (product, price, place, promotion) of the “marketing mix”.

But, as different as they may seem on the surface these functions must be in continuous partnership with one another. With the overload of information in today’s business world, we’ll make the path to partnership easy and breakdown our best practices into 3 sections and 3 key points. Hopefully you can take this back to your desk feeling motivated with some tips and tricks to help create a clear channel of communication and mutually beneficial goals between Sales and Marketing.

  1. Goals: Sales & Marketing
  2. Importance of Alignment
  3. How Can We Connect Them?

We’ll go over the separate goals of both Sales and Marketing, the benefits of partnership, each unique function, and how aligning those goals can equal success. Let’s get started.

Sales Team: Goals

A Sales team is much more than individuals trying to sell products – a successful sales team is focused on building relationships, converting leads and yes, ultimately generating sales. Sales efforts must be calculated and supported by targeted, accurate data. With this model, a sales team is able to set reasonable goals that target their true customer base. Let’s go over 3 main goals of a high-functioning Sales team.

  1. Quality Leads – The Sales team should aim to cultivate and nurture quality leads provided by Marketing.
  2. Build Relationships – This is a key factor for Sales teams. You need to be willing and committed to building relationships with all potential customers.
  3. Convert Leads and Drive Profit/Growth – This final point closes that loop, turning the potential customer into a successfully converted lead and consumer of your product/service. By converting quality leads, you’re able to increase profit and drive growth.

Before we wrap up this section – have you heard of S.M.A.R.T goals? Well, it applies here too and is an effective tool to keep you on the path to success helping you set and achieve your goals. It stands for Specific (clear expectations), Measurable (solid measurement criteria), Attainable (inspiring, yet still achievable goals), Relevant (alignment of applicable goals), and Time-Related (set an agreed upon deadline). A well-named acronym can go a long way, especially when its meaning helps keep your sales team on track.

Marketing Team: Goals

Similar to Sales, Marketing consists of much more than one goal or one definition. Marketing goals can support broader company goals such as increasing name recognition, or they can be more specific such as increasing conversions from website visitors. Though the goals can be vast, we break down 3 that are at the core of Marketing and can be easily aligned with those of the Sales team.

  1. Build Brand Awareness – Brand awareness measures a brand’s recognition and a customer’s relation of a product or service to your business. This is especially important when thinking about both marketing and sales goals. Marketing attempts to shape a brand’s image in the customer’s eyes, and the Sales team completes that relationship. It’s important for both teams to align their messaging and stay on brand.
  2. Identifying Target Segments – This goal of marketing can be two-fold, it’s essential to recognize the appropriate segments or your business market, but it’s also important to target new potential customers, enter new markets, and generate leads.
  3. Increase Customer Satisfaction and RetentionHigh satisfaction ratings and retaining happy customers will always be something Marketing aims to achieve. The necessity of providing your customers with a quality service hasn’t changed, and when you deliver on that mission, you can succeed in keeping those customer on your side.
  4. Drives quality leads – a marketing team focuses on finding the perfect balance between quality vs. quantity through testing, optimization and a buttoned up digital strategy.

A quick note: We mentioned the 4 P’s of the marketing mix. Clearly defining your Product (or service), Price (cost determination and positioning), Promotion (information dissemination and differentiation), Place (where to reach your potential customers) of your marketing strategy from the get-go allows you to capture and map out each unique trait of your brand.

The Marketing team can be S.M.A.R.T. too! Hint, hint – connect your teams with shared, and smart, goals.

Importance of Sales and Marketing Alignment

A union between the Sales and Marketing teams yields positive results and greater efficiency, which benefit not only the teams themselves, but the success of the business as a whole. This union should be seen as a critical factor for continued growth in today’s competitive business landscape.

Businesses can struggle to unite the two – so, how can this be done? First off, subscribing to a shared mission and common goal can help achieve those big wins.

With the two working together, it’s easier to measure results based on the coordinated efforts of both functions. Marketing is able to understand the real-world needs of the Sales team, and produce the content and opportunity needed to drive sales growth. With these efforts in place, Sales is investing into quality leads, increasing ROI (return on investment) and overall the productivity of each team. There’s a positive correlation between marketing efforts and sales accomplishments. Adhering to and sharing the same mission results in a targeted, successful effort.

  1. Clear Feedback Channel – Promoting a clear channel of feedback – whether it’s considered negative or positive – reduces waste, and allows for each side to determine challenges across all areas. Once you’re able to communicate those areas for improvement across both functions, those “problem areas” can turn into a solution for future improvement.
  2. Increased ROI –  When Sales and Marketing align, this reduces overall waste, time, effort, and money … and increases ROI. The Sales team invest their follow-up time into the higher quality leads that Marketing is able to provide (coming back to point 1) – due to the clear feedback channel.
  3. Enhanced Customer Experience – When both Sales and Marketing have a better understanding of who their customer is and their needs and wants from your business – they’re able to foster that relationship and enhance the overall experience.

Both teams should see the benefits of working together and understand that they cannot perform independent of each other. Moving away from a siloed approach, increases communication between teams, provides an open channel for constant feedback and the ability to tailor customer approach.

When both teams are on the same page and have a shared mission, it’s easier to recognize quality leads, close on those leads, and generate sales. Marketing should be willing and open to meet with Sales to create the content that is given to customers. And, respectively Sales needs to provide honest and constructive feedback and field experiences to build out the appropriate content. Marketing can hear directly from Sales the content needed, giving them the ability to target and tailor that content based on segments. Ruling out leads that don’t align with in-the-field Sales experience, reduces noise and can help to produce a higher conversion rate. With this open and clear feedback channel Marketing can push quality leads down the sales funnel.

How to Connect Your Sales and Marketing Teams

So, now you know how important it is to keep these two key functions working in partnership. But, how do you actually make that alignment happen? Connecting the two teams with shared goals shouldn’t be seen as a daunting task, but rather one that is natural and necessary. Let’s take note of 3 points of connection that can made between Sales and Marketing.

  1. Mutually Agreed Upon GoalsBe sure that Sales and Marketing are working towards the same, shared goals. Then, ask yourself – how are we measuring the success of these goals? Make sure all goals are being measured using the same metrics. Each team needs to understand the types of leads, and the processes for when the leads are in the funnel and in agreement with the process. Mutually agreed upon goals and a mission that is shared, makes that connection and allows both teams to stay motivated towards a goal they believe in.
  2. Celebrate and Recognize Wins – So both teams are striving to work together and sharing some success? Recognize and celebrate those wins! Demonstrate to your team that partnering towards shared goals can be beneficial for us all.
  3. Marketing Campaigns That Support SalesOne way to deflate your Sales team is by delivering messaging from Marketing that is completely off from what they experience. Let’s do better and coordinate our Marketing campaigns to those that support Sales efforts and align the messaging. Campaigns should makes sense for how Sales are actually connecting with customers. With that agreed upon messaging, teams are on the same page with what needs to be communicated to customers in order to make that connection.

As you may have noticed, the goals of Marketing and Sales can be unique to each, but there are several that are shared. Marketing needs to make sales just as much as the Sales team does. When both teams and their leaders share and adhere to the same mission – the path to success can be as simple as 1, 2, 3!

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Kristin is a Content Coordinator at Power Digital. She was born and raised in San Diego but headed down south to attend the University of Alabama. With a degree in Communications and Advertising, she enjoys creating valuable and engaging SEO focused content to drive traffic and boost rankings for her clients. Roll Tide!