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Marketing and Sales Alignment: How Great Companies Make It Happen

Matthew Buckley
Jan 14, 2016 8:00:00 AM  |  Matthew Buckley

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There is a lot hinging on the performance of your marketing and sales teams to successfully execute on their goals. Without a healthy pipeline, runway and cash flow can dry up, preventing the business from investing in future growth, its current employees and product development.

As a marketing and sales leader, it's critically important that marketing and sales teams are aligned because nothing can harm a revenue team more than misalignment and miscommunication. This is because today's B2B marketers must be focused on pipeline marketing–it's been proven that those who are achieve much greater levels of alignment.

Download our free whitepaper: Unifying Your Marketing + Sales Teams to learn 6  steps to bring the two departments together.

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Image Source: Bizible

How great tech companies align marketing and sales

Implement closed-loop reporting for marketing and sales alignment

The first piece of the puzzle is creating a technology stack that allows you to see end-to-end attribution from marketing's first touch to a closed-won opportunity. At New Breed, we help our customers achieve this by using HubSpot, Salesforce and InsightSquared. This allows you to base all your future decisions on data and historical performance, as well as track progress towards your current goals in real time.

Use lifecycle stages

Now that you have closed-loop reporting in place, you can begin to create a more granular system of how these prospects are being tracked through the funnel to see exactly where leads are getting stuck. This way you can focus your efforts on the areas that will drive the most value.

At minimum, you should track your leads through these six core lifecycle stages:

  • Subscriber
  • Lead
  • Marketing qualified lead
  • Sales qualified lead
  • Opportunity
  • Customer

If you want to reach an even more granular level of reporting, you can use systems such as the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall which introduces stages such as 'sales accepted lead' and other statuses designed to track outbound efforts.

To do this, carefully document the entry and exit criteria for each stage so it’s crystal clear when someone should be moved forward, recycled or disqualified. As well as align your marketing and sales systems and employee training to account for this.

Assign a lead or opportunity commitment

Marketing should be held responsible to clear goals that are tied directly to revenue generation. Mark Roberge, VP of Sales at HubSpot has reflected that putting marketing on a quota was one of the keys to their success. He's not the only expert that feels this way. Watch Loretta Jones and Brendon Cassidy who led marketing and sales at EchoSign reflect on the importance of a lead commit:

Going back to what Volpe and Roberge did at HubSpot that was so innovative was that they segmented MQL data by type (demo, contact sales, content download, etc.) and then broke down the MQL-to-customer rate and average deal size for each. This way, the MQL commit wasn't just a number of leads, but actually got marketing and sales speaking the same language, dollars and cents.

For example, this type of analysis might look like this:

MQL_type_analysis.png

Since it's likely easier for marketing to generate white paper downloads than it is demo requests or trials, converting this value into a dollar figure means that no matter what the MQL type, sales is assured the coverage and volume they need to hit their quotas.

Bonus tip: If you're implementing this system in HubSpot, I recommend creating not just an MQL Type content property, but also a date stamp assigned in a workflow for each property so that when you analyze the data you'll be able to easily track these efforts over time.

Create an MQL workflow

So far we've talked about activities that focus on sales feeling confident in the quality and expectations of leads that marketing is generating. It's just as important that marketing feels confident that sales will be held accountable to appropriately follow up with these hard-won leads. An MQL workflow does just this.

lead-handoff-workflow.pngImage Credit: InsightSquared

If you want some extra help doing this, we've written about how to setup an MQL workflow in HubSpot, here.

With all this in place, document these steps in a service-level agreement (SLA) that addresses both marketing’s responsibility to deliver qualified leads and sale’s ability to close them. This document becomes the cornerstone of the agreement between your teams to deliver on their individual goals and work together so that the company meets its’ goals.

Hold cross-team meetings to maintain alignment

It's important to bring your team together frequently to review goals, discuss challenges and continue to refine the machine that’s being built. At the startup stage, this meeting can be interactive and foster dialogue and discussion from the group. As your marketing and sales teams grow, this meeting will become a more fast-paced, high-level overview of progress towards goals, and the SLA will ensure ongoing alignment and transparency.

Finally, on a monthly basis, highlight the percent of revenue that was sourced or influenced by marketing. If there’s one number that will most clearly illustrate to your sales team the value that marketing is bringing to the table, this is it.

marketing_sourced_pipeline.png

Align sales and marketing at your company

This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, but it is also the foundation of your future growth. Creating this system and fostering a data-driven marketing and sales culture from an early stage will pay dividends down the road as you’re able to make more educated decisions and grow faster.

Free Whitepaper: Unifying Your Marketing + Sales Teams [from New Breed Marketing]

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Matthew Buckley

This post was written by Matthew Buckley

Matthew Buckley is New Breed's Lead Marketing Strategist. He specializes in developing successful inbound marketing programs and is a HubSpot expert. Matt’s expertise has led to the launch of many successful inbound marketing campaigns.

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