2020 guide to helping sales and marketing work effectively together

Irrespective of whether your goal is alignment or integration, the key levers that will be used by a successful organisation remain the same.

Using some of Kingpin Communication’s recent research into B2B sales and marketing alignment, combined with that from other industry leaders, we have identified some of the key issues that stand in the way of sales and marketing working at maximum efficiency and made suggestions of things that your organisation can do to fix them.

The resources and budget available to sales and marketing can also be stretched if sales and marketing are more aware and understanding of each other’s spending and how they can most benefit from both team’s research and work.

1. Introduce clear team structuring to improve communication and indicate responsibility, seniority etc

Time is often wasted by a lack of communication resulting in both sales and marketing doing the same jobs twice or leaving gaps in their services that require fixing later.

Sales and marketing often view each of their respective roles quite differently, so should work together to better define each of their unique roles and responsibilities. Marketing can have a particularly hard time conveying the value of their role and what they do based on their work being less ‘visible’. This is supported by our research which shows that marketing claim to have a better understanding of sales’ role than vice versa.

By introducing job role specifications agreed upon by both of the teams, that help everyone to better understand who is doing what, how and when, organisations will boost efficiency and less time will be wasted by the two teams on doing repetitive or useless tasks.

Misalignment of the two teams could sometimes be worsened by underlying tensions caused by an unspoken battle of seniority. Our research told us that both marketing and sales commonly thought of themselves as more senior than their counterpart. Those in sales are more likely to say sales is more senior than marketing (57% vs 19%), while those in marketing are more likely to say that marketing is more senior than sales (46% vs 9%).

Issues surrounding seniority could be used to explain some of the issues in communication and setting tasks, so part of better defining the roles of each team could include specifying seniority if this will help with the flow of business processes and enforcing accountability.

In a remote world, it might no longer be easy to encourage better communication by simply sitting the two teams on adjacent desks, but it is still important for management to ensure that the teams are regularly meeting and have appropriate communication tools. It is worth specifying the function of each tool so that everyone is aware of what conversations should be kept for email/calls, and which can move over to Microsoft Teams, Slack or any other social messengers.

2. Agree on strict lead/account criteria and follow-up practices specific to your organisation

According to research from Marketo and ReachForce, sales ignores up to 80% of marketing leads. Thus, the importance of defining a strict criterion for insights, leads and their follow-up process is crucial. Our research could suggest that this figure has seen some improvement, with 60% of respondents to our survey claiming that sakes are effective at following up leads.

To do this, sales and marketing must make efforts to improve their transparency with both each other and the wider organisation by providing education on what they actually do to gather/follow-up leads/accounts on a daily basis.

This should include explicitly stated (and agreed upon) best practices for all processes involving leads/accounts which should be developed to fit into the daily routines of each job role and maximise on company intelligence and offerings.

Additionally, official feedback regimens can be put in place to improve the likes of sales force feedback and understanding of marketing’s actions.  For sales teams working on a commission-basis they will likely be less-willing to share their time with marketing, however, this can often be fixed with some incentivisation.

3. Improving the insights that are provided by marketing and how they are handled

More than half of sales professionals decide which leads/accounts to prioritise based on lead insights (55%) and on marketing guidance (49%). Research from Gartner actually found that marketing research and competitive insights were the most vital capability supporting any marketing strategy.

In spite of this, our research found that sales aren’t entirely happy with the quality of these insights (38% of sales are happy with the quality of content and data provided by marketing), nor are marketing completely satisfied with how they are used. As such, there is room for improvement in this area.

Similarly to how marketing and sales can improve their communication around leads and accounts, they can enforce stricter specifications and processes to improve the insights provided and how they are used.

Transparency and communication will be key here, allowing sales teams to outline the information they want from marketing in this respect and for marketing to educate them on what is possible or how they can make the most of the data they provide.

4. Use an ABM alignment tool to help you to monitor and drive your success

44% believe that their organisation’s use of tech is “very effective” vs 51% believe it is “somewhat effective” at assisting alignment.

Powerful account-based marketing (ABM) and marketing automation tools enable one-to-one conversations with prospects instead of just one talking to many. For maximum benefits, marketing must ensure the methodology, process, and terminology used to support these tools are in alignment with sales.

Argus is an intelligent ABM-enablement platform which helps you to align your systems and technology while validating and enriching your data. Designed to be used by sales and marketing teams, Argus combines data management, campaign tracking and account-wide intent data to power your ABM and lead generation activity- positioning all your data in one place for maximum alignment.

5. Ultimately, organisations must enforce shared goals and KPIs

Senior management should aim to participate in creating shared goals and setting joint KPIs which unify sales and marketing teams and align with overall business goals. These KPIs and goals should incorporate the day-to-day tasks of each teams and accurately reflect the value of each action.

This is because marketing and sales will naturally have quite conflicting methods of doing things and measuring them. Marketing traditionally have less tangible KPIs and measurability is trickier as there are more unseen elements to the role. Marketing projects are also often long term and include creating strong branding and generating qualified leads that are durable and can be nurtured to prove marketing ROI in the long run.

Sales goals and everyday tasks are a lot simpler and more trackable. Salespeople are more focused on deals and revenue growth, as well as problem-solving for clients and prospects alike.  The actions of sales will usually spur an immediate outcome, and so, by nature, they are usually only interested in marketing’s offerings that can also show immediate impact and less inclined to understand marketing’s long-term stance.

To work together effectively, marketing and sales will need to measure their efforts using the same KPIs and be aware of how their individual and team goals contribute to the bigger picture- this will also help to ensure that marketing teams are properly credited for the impact of their work.

For more suggestions on improving alignment, check out the full report, or for a summary of our findings, we also have a handy little infographic.

The B2B Marketing Leaders report 2020

We recently sent a survey based on the four pillars of execution to 100 marketing leaders. The results of this survey were used in this report to demonstrate where marketers are at in their journey to digital marketing maturity. Check out all the findings here.

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b2b leaders report