Aligning Your Sales and Marketing Teams: A Match Made in Heaven

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: June 28, 2017
Photo credit: Art_Photo/Shutterstock

A marriage takes work, understanding and communication. The same applies for teams in any organization. Before you take another step, consider if your sales and marketing teams are a match made in heaven or a couple who are doomed to break up.

In some cases, isolation can be great. When teams are separated, they can be left to focus on goals and objectives where they know they can influence the outcome. And when teams feel united in their work, they feel like they can accomplish great things.

However, what many organizations don’t realize is that while isolation has positive results, failing to unite your marketing and sales teams through some sort of alignment is leaving out a lot of potential good. Alignment of sales and marketing teams have so many benefits, many of which you may not see immediately.

Here's how marrying your sales and marketing teams through alignment can be a strategic match made in heaven.

Cracking the alignment code

According to Forrester Research, only 8 percent of B2B companies say they have tight alignment between sales and marketing. An alignment problem is essentially a business problem; without alignment, a company cannot effectively execute.

When alignment is done well and effectively, it can provide so much.

A lane for discussion and communication

When you think of inspiring spiritual and community leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Bishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, they all have something that unites them. They stood up and took a stance that gave voice to people who assumed they had no say.

Leaders that openly welcome discussion and open communication mean all team members feel represented, and they have a stake in what happens to the group. Without an open dialogue, going back and forth between sales and marketing teams, this can lead to confrontation when they’re at odds with one another. Just like a true marriage, communication is the foundation to alignment. 

Everyone is in sales

While one team's day-to-day tasks involve talking to new and existing customers, everyone you meet is trying to sell you on their vision.

The marketing team has a vision for how their activity fits into the company’s overall goal of capturing new business, and they can often be hesitant when outsiders come in and order that they do it differently. They’ll often dig in and defend their position, making it even harder for a free flow of conversation.

Education is empowering

A lot of the decisions you make daily are informed by your knowledge and life experience. You’ve become an expert in your career not through sheer will but by learning and years of experience.

We tend to become comfortable with the status quo, and we often will do what it takes to maintain the norms of life. However, isolation between sales and marketing teams tends to force a divide between the two groups and create an unintended ignorance or failure to understand one another.

For example, in a survey where respondents were asked which teams had ownership of enablement content and demand generation content, 52 percent of marketing teams felt they had ownership of enablement content. This was surprising considering enablement is usually employed by reps in direct customer conversations.

This disconnect can lead to multiple problems, but it simply demonstrates just how many organizations fail to align teams to the point where they know who is doing what. But overall, the purpose of education is to achieve more when both sales and marketing teams have a deep understanding of one another.

Commitment vs. doing what you're told

There's quite a difference between the motivations and actions of an employee who is fully invested in the company's overall mission rather than a person who is doing what is expected of them.

Consider, for example, someone who goes to the gym because their doctor instructed them to versus someone who wants to improve their health. The more invested one is, the more they will get out of their workouts. Further, they will appreciate the results of their work and do what it takes to achieve their goals. Whereas if an individual feels forced, they will not enjoy their workouts, they'll do the bare minimum or eventually lose the drive to continue exercising. Instilling within your sales and marketing teams a commitment can help them achieve more.

How to achieve alignment

Here are three tactics that you can begin adopting today to get your organization on its way to achieving alignment.

1. Adopting the right goal

Goals for your sales team are different compared to the goals of your marketing team, and it can feel like unifying goals is a gargantuan task due to incompatibility. By first understanding the differences between their goals, you can begin the conversation which gets everyone on the same page to buy into a single vision or big picture.

2. Messaging = team effort

Most organizations develop their messaging in isolated teams with little input from key teams or individuals in the organization. In the case where sales and marketing teams are trying to align with each other, messaging should be created as a joint effort to maintain consistency and overall understanding. Marketing is designed to entice new customers, while sales representatives are the ones having conversations with customers; imagine what can be achieved when these two work together.

3. Pick a starting point

Building momentum when merging teams and making a concerted effort to achieve a goal can be challenging. As an aligned team, identify the weak spots in your value messages and work together to develop the messages, content and sales tools to create and communicate the overall vision of your organization and how you can improve the buying journey for consumers.

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