The 4 steps organizations can take to improve sales and marketing alignment are as follows:
1. Alignment effort between Sales and Marketing from top management
Getting agreement from the CEO is the important first step. Sales and marketing alignment is a leadership issue. If you don't get the buy-in from the head of the company, trying to do this becomes an academic exercise. And you'd be surprised how many CEOs aren't interested in the change of management exercise that makes up the backbone of really bringing marketing and sales into alignment.
2. Effective Lead Generation from Marketing Team
Marketing executives want to be treated as equals to their sales counterparts. If that is so, then they need to have their performance and compensation needs at a similar level of variable compensation as their sales counterparts. There's a lot of resistance to this in the marketing world. The logic goes, "we can open the door to a lead, but sales has to close it." That's hogwash. Marketing can do a lot to affect lead volume, quality, velocity and close of business. If it means one less doodad they produce and get out in the field to help close, so be it. By paying marketing in part on closed business, the organization puts its money where its alignment is.
3. Report on the same metrics
It becomes more apparent with the advances in lead generation, nurturing and conversion that if sales and marketing aren’t playing with the same rule book, things can go south quickly. Stop problems before they start by making sales and marketing alignment a priority. Both departments should be working together throughout the whole sales process: from the criteria you create for a productive lead scoring system, through the touch points marketing engages in with prospects to a clean hand off to sales through continued communications to close. If you ask sales and marketing leaders what they report to the management team (or the Board), very often you'll get things like this from them:
c. Make sure the management team cares about, and talks about, the same measures.
4. Develop a unified process
The collaborative development of a process is one of the core issues that causes the gap that exists in many organizations. Companies that excel at sales and marketing alignment have processes and procedures that are mapped to how their customers buy. With marketing and sales working together to address:
a. Data Management
b. Lead Planning
c. Lead Routing (SLA's)
d. Lead Qualification (including scoring and definition of every stage of the funnel)
e. Lead Nurturing
f. Content Blueprint
With the integration of companies CRM systems and many companies implementing marketing automation, the ability for the two previously separate silos aligning into a unified process with performance metrics, companies are now able to manage a complete revenue cycle that is mapped to how their customers buy throughout their buying cycle.
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