There’s not a business in the world that doesn’t want its sales and marketing teams to be effective. B2B business leaders want sales and marketing to work harmoniously on demand generation for both short- and long-term needs. The trouble is that this need is easier said than done.

Forever and a day the sales and marketing functions have not seen eye to eye with a sometimes-unhealthy friction existing between what essentially are two sides of the same coin. Of course, we intuitively understand the benefits of getting the two functions to work together, even if there is a healthy presence of positive friction. So, let’s unpack what it takes to achieve effective sales and marketing outcomes.


If it’s so hard to align sales and marketing, why bother trying?

The obvious starting point is to get sales and marketing onto the same page, so to speak. We hear this all the time. So why bother trying to achieve something that seems to be so elusive? If it’s so hard, why not just leave each function to their own devices?

Despite a philosophical belief that the two functions work better together, the stats tell a more convincing story when it comes to the benefits of successful sales and marketing alignment. Sales and marketing aligned businesses grow faster (+27%), they produce more revenue from marketing, have higher retention rates… the list goes on.

Given the above, the question is what are some practical ways we can get sales and marketing working in a collaborative and mutually accountable manner?

Get sales and marketing creating customer personas together

It begins with the development of buyer personas and buyer journeys. Understanding the most important buyer personas and their characteristics is critical to both sales and marketing executing their roles.

Marketing, typically have market research and a macro view of the buyer, while sales have first-hand experiences that add real ‘flavour’ and insight which is critical in developing helpful content and a tailored sales process. Together they work well.

Get sales and marketing creating content together to accelerate demand

So much content misses the mark because there’s no strategy and plan to guide its creation and additionally, due to a lack of collaboration between sales and marketing when it comes to content that generates demand.

Let’s begin by tackling the last point in the above paragraph. Marketing teams producing content in a marketing silo achieves very little without the ‘buy-in’ and contribution from sales. Indeed, sales teams can quickly identify the insights that leads to the content their prospects might find useful. Working in a collaborative fashion, marketing teams can ensure that the quality of that content is aligned with the brand positioning.

Sales and marketing should work together to develop a plan for content that helps prospects navigate their buying journey – from the awareness stage to closing stage, content is a critical tool for sales and marketing teams to nurture, engage and delight buyers.

Get sales and marketing working together on sales enablement

Sales enablement strategy at its heart requires marketing input and collaboration.

How sales and marketing can work together in developing lead scoring criteria

For any sales and marketing team, being productive with their time has a direct relationship with the ability to generate demand for the business. Lead scoring is a great way to focus sales activity and also to identify what marketing content is generating the best leads.

However, scoring leads for some businesses is a sales only exercise. Why? This is like saying to marketing that they are not responsible for lead generation. Again, market research provided by marketing can help determine lead scoring criteria. A mutually agreed lead scoring criteria also leads to mutual KPI’s and tighter alignment.

How sales and marketing can work together on sales process and measurement

With a unified sales and marketing tech stack, then final element is to agree on the sales process and how it will be measured. Often-times the sales process is left to sales to figure out. Equally often in occurrence is marketing leaving the table when measurement KPI’s are being allocated out.

Having marketing input into the sales process is critical as it such a key part of the brand experience. This can involve providing sales content to reflect the brand positioning and indeed reflect the buyer persona’s buying journey. Marketing and sales need to own the key kpi’s in the lead to customer conversion steps. This ensures both functions are working towards the same goals.

How sales and marketing can work together in their CRM and tech stack

Marketing and sales technology should then bring it all together. Having both functions working on different tech stacks makes no sense as there is no central view of the customer. And yet, amazingly there are many businesses in this situation as egos drive separate agendas and CRM decisions.

While the needs of both sales and marketing functions will differ, having the chat early about needs and requirements can ensure that your teams share the same technology stack. The benefit of any introduction of new technology is the ‘forced’ collaboration required. Creating cross-functional teams will not only help with change management, but also deepen personal relationships within both functions.


Get sales and marketing working together with account-based marketing

There’s probably no better way to get sales and marketing working together than setting them to work on an account-based marketing (ABM) project. It provides purpose and the connection required to build relationships and achieve common goals.

ABM takes a key account prospect or customer and creates a laser like focus on them to land or grow new revenue from that account. To achieve this sales and marketing need to operate as two sides of the same coin, treating the account as a market in its own right.

This requires a close working arrangement across sales and marketing to identify and research the customer and the buyers and stakeholders within. What are their motivations and needs? This should then prescribe the personalised content and communication channels required to engage and convert each buying decision maker.

This ABM project has seen sales and marketing working side by side as they move to execute the plan and measure the results with complete ROI accurateness. By having the two functions work together it becomes a strategic project with the long-term brand effects taken into consideration alongside the short-term needs of converting the customer for new revenue growth.


Generating traction with your digital sales and marketing agency

Finally, for an effective sales and marketing function you need to have the right resources in place which align to your growth ambitions. Your digital sales and marketing agency represents a significant proportion of these allocated resources. Your agency or agencies are a key partner in your growth and it’s important to ensure you get their best work out of them.

The first point to make is that your agency needs to understand sales as well as marketing. Gone are the days of the agency simply being the keeper of design assets and creative ideas. Today, these capabilities, while still critically important have largely been democratised. The skills of a digital marketing and sales agency should in fact facilitate marketing and sales working together on unified campaigns. With your agency ensuring traction on action items and key performance measurables.

More than ever before success in the marketplace is dependent upon amazing execution which requires your agency to have agile approach to execution and with skill sets that cover everything from conceptual development through to implementation and review across digital channels including your CRM and marketing tech platforms.


Top takeaways

  • To make your sales and marketing teams effective you need to see them as one team.
  • Both functions while having their own tasks and KPI’s should sign up to a set of common KPI’s as in a service level agreement (SLA) approach
  • Cross-functional teams are a great idea to ensure both functions are taking full advantage of the knowledge available to them
  • Utilise marketing and sales technology to align around the customer
  • Think of your marketing agency as a sales and marketing agency serving the holistic growth needs of the business.

Sales and Marketing SLA Template