Inbound Marketing + Sales Blog

September 26, 2016

4 Ways to Better Align Your Sales and Marketing Team

Written by: Alaysia Brown  |  Share:


On one side of the office, you have the marketing department. They’re generating leads, targeting potential revenue streams, crafting brilliant messaging. What would you do without them?

On the other side of the office, you have the sales department. They’re qualifying leads, getting the face-to-face time with customers, closing the sale. What would you do without them?

The contribution each team makes is invaluable to the company’s success. No argument.

Unfortunately, quite often, these teams are doing their amazing work in isolation. Marketing generates the leads, tosses them to sales, sales makes the deal. The end.

Marketing wouldn’t dream of stepping on Sales’ toes by suggesting possible revenue opportunities that may have been overlooked. And Sales wouldn’t want to offend Marketing by making suggestions on audience, leads and messaging based on in-market, face-to-face client interaction and feedback.

Oh, no. Why would they do that?

Because it makes all the sense in the world.

Much has been written on the need to align marketing and sales teams to optimize success. Technically, the people in charge know what they have to do. It’s making it happen that becomes an obstacle to the evolution of the sales and marketing team.

Every day, marketing team members sell. They sell their ideas. They sell the data they draw from their analytics – web analytics, email tracking programs, customer buying patterns. They sell the company through spectacular branding.

And every day, sales team members market. They market the company to clients. They market themselves as trustworthy advisors who will help clients grow business. They market solutions to problems.

Stop for a moment to consider the power of a truly aligned sales and marketing team, with everyone on the same page of the song book, singing the same anthem! We have four ways to help sales and marketing team leaders forge the alignment that’s so clearly a pathway to success.

  1. CHARACTER: If you want a specific behavior, model the behavior.
  2. COLLABORATION: If you want to create a supportive culture, recognize supportive behavior.
  3. CONFIGURATION: If you want sales and marketing to work together, put them together.
  4. CUSTOMER SERVICE: If you want to align sales and marketing, point to the customer.

The leaders of the sales and marketing teams need to align themselves first. The teams have to see two top-notch professionals agreeing on the outcomes that spell success and then working together to make those outcomes reality.

Agreeing on outcomes and responsibilities is part of the creation process for your service-level agreement. The SLA is important for a number of reasons, including that it helps establish parameters and detail accountability. But perhaps its most important feature is the results it can help your teams produce: According to last year's State of Inbound report, there's a big difference between hiring teams and firing teams when it comes to existence of an SLA, and it's safe to say teams that hire are teams that are growing revenue.


But the SLA isn't the only valuable piece of working toward alignment through demonstrating successful behavior. The teams have to see their bosses engaging positively with one another, asking questions, demonstrating respect for dissenting opinions and respecting the unique contribution and perspective each leader brings to the discussion. They need to see the leaders teaming up to achieve greater results than would be possible individually. They need to see the leaders building one amazing Super Team.

Pipeline marketing is most successful when your platforms are aligned to track attribution from top-to-bottom of the funnel, but also when your team is aligned around the same goal. The formation of said Super Team — or, as many organizations call it, the revenue team — makes that a possibility.

No one achieves the best results working in isolation. Diverse teams with differing roles can come together to create a powerhouse of talent, skills and experience. The benefit? Team members from every department type learn from and with each other. The revenue team bridges the marketing-to-sales gap.

When members from different teams provide feedback, offer assistance or share information and knowledge, recognize the contribution to the revenue team's success. Recognize it publicly. Recognize the behavior you admire specifically – “John, your insight into the client’s view on his target audience will help marketing craft the message we need to share with him. Without sharing your insight, we could have been approaching this from the wrong angle. Thank you for working with the marketing team by sharing your knowledge. The more we work together, the more success we will have.” Or, “Jane and Jim, don’t think I didn’t notice the work you did together to build a great campaign for Client X. When you put your marketing skills, Jane, and your sales skills, Jim, together … it’s a recipe for success. Great job working to help this important client grow his business!”

Recognition is a great reinforcement tool. Use it to build a collaborative, supportive culture for sales and marketing.

Sometimes, from a physical plant perspective, you simply can’t push two departments into the same general real estate in an office building. It’s not always realistic.

But if you can bring them together physically, that’s great. It will grow an appreciation of and an understanding for each other’s contributions and responsibilities, simply because each team member will see how everyone operates, what everyone faces. It’s an educational process that benefits the company and the employees.

If you can’t bring a newly-formed revenue team or an aligned version of your marketing/sales departments together physically, create a space for communing. Call it the Conversation Space, a neutral ground where members from all teams in the building can congregate to address challenges, create solutions and grow business. It doesn’t matter if you’re from sales, marketing, administration or distribution, your opinion is welcome in the Conversation Space.

Regular communication without the boundaries established by walls helps companies evolve and grow business.

Finally, adopt this philosophy for success: Customer first. Company second. Me third.

If everyone in the sales and marketing team (or revenue team!) adopts that philosophy, that the customer and the customer’s success is top priority, then alignment of objectives in sales and marketing should naturally occur.

You can’t build customer success without marketing understanding the marketplace, the client’s target audience and the client’s competition. You can’t build the client’s success without sales understanding the customer’s pain, identifying potential solutions and advising the client for optimum results.

It’s all about the customer. If everyone agrees on that, sales and marketing can evolve into an agile team of customer service specialists committed to exceeding client expectations. Who doesn’t want to see that happen?



Topics: Inbound Sales, Demand Generation

About The Author

Alaysia Brown is a Content Marketing Specialist at SalesLoft, where she contributes to the SalesLoft blog. Alaysia studied communications at Louisiana State University and has written extensively about the intersection of business and sales.

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