Together, marketing and sales have the potential to become a truly dynamic power duo.

But, more often than not, sales and marketing teams are misaligned. It’s not that they’re actively working against each other, but that they’re operating in silos and striving for mismatched goals. 

As a result, marketing and sales reps can struggle to find common ground. They might disagree on objectives or even use different language to describe similar concepts—which continues to drive a wedge between both sides and contributes to further misunderstandings.

On the other hand, when sales and marketing teams are brought in alignment, everyone wins. 

Marketing and sales alignment makes life easier for marketers who want to improve lead quality, campaign effectiveness, and conversion rates; sales reps who want to close more deals; customer service reps who want to elevate the customer experience; and business owners who want to improve their bottom line.

So, then why are modern sales and marketing teams still so out of sync? If alignment is so great for business, why are so many organizations reluctant to change? And, more importantly, what steps can sales and marketing leaders take to begin to correct course?

If you want to understand where marketing ends and sales begins—and how “smarketing” enables both teams to work better together—keep reading!

What is Sales and Marketing Alignment?

Sales and marketing alignment is a collaborative effort between both teams. It’s a shared commitment to open communication and working towards common goals. 

Aligning marketing and sales doesn’t just ensure a more collaborative workplace. Done well, alignment can also increase revenue, output, and results. Instead of operating in silos with independent metrics, objectives, and strategies, aligned marketing and sales teams support all aspects of lead generation, qualification, and nurturing as a single unit.

Unfortunately, marketers and salespeople are rarely on the same page in terms of goals—let alone the workflows, messaging, lead definitions, and more that are needed to achieve those goals. In fact, 90% of marketing and sales professionals feel they are misaligned across strategy, process, content, and culture.

90% of sales and marketing teams are out of sync

What Are the Benefits of Marketing and Sales Alignment?

Let’s look at some of the best reasons to consider aligning your marketing and sales teams on shared goals, processes, and targets.

Increased Revenue Growth

According to Aberdeen Research, organizations that successfully align sales and marketing see an average growth of 20% in annual revenue. This is particularly impressive when you realize organizations that don’t prioritize alignment see an average decline in revenue growth of 4%. Teams aligned on processes, technology, and data tend to be more focused and productive—which translates into higher sales numbers and a bump in revenue.

Identify Qualified Leads Earlier in the Process

In terms of benefits, this is a big one. The potential to identify better leads earlier in the lead management process has a positive impact on the entire sales cycle. Not only does singling out high-quality leads improve resource allocation (which is great for optimizing your sales budget), but it also tends to result in a higher win rate (a.k.a. increased revenue growth potential!).

Increased Sales Velocity

When marketing and sales agree on their idea of a sales-ready lead, everyone can waste less time on poor-fit leads and instead focus on moving forward with potential customers who are most likely to purchase. This enables sales reps to move leads through the sales cycle more quickly, thereby increasing sales velocity.

Early lead qualification

What Causes Misalignment Between Sales and Marketing?

Traditionally, sales and marketing teams function as separate departments within an organization—each with their own set of goals, tools, workflows, and strategies. In theory, this is fine because marketing’s job is to generate leads to hand off to the sales team.

But the reality of lead generation (and lead management) isn’t as clear-cut as we might like to believe—and neither is the division between sales and marketing. That’s why the first step towards alignment is recognizing the overlap between marketing and sales roles, touchpoints, and activities.

Not sure whether or not your team members are on the same page? Let’s take a look at some signs your teams are misaligned. Note that these factors are often both a cause and a symptom of misaligned marketing and sales teams.

Outdated Understanding of the Buyer’s Journey

How often does the customer journey actually follow a straightforward path? As much as we’d like to think there’s a logical flow we can map, track, and predict consistently, the truth is that every lead’s progression through your sales funnel is slightly different.

Prospects might interact with a sales professional by email and then decide to learn more about the product by attending a webinar led by the marketing team. Or they might read a case study written by someone on the marketing team, only to find that the sales rep they contact isn’t familiar with the use cases covered in the blog post. 

Instead of neatly moving from awareness (i.e., a typical marketing-qualified lead) to interest to ready to make a purchase decision (i.e., a sales-ready lead), prospects are often all over the map.  

Differing Goals for Lead Generation

Sales and marketing teams tend to prioritize different goals and KPIs. Sales teams have quotas they need to hit to reach their revenue goals, so their focus is typically on closing deals. Plus, if your sales reps are working on commission, they’re understandably motivated to maximize the amount of revenue tied to their activities. 

Marketers, on the other hand, rarely earn commission. Instead, their success is determined by the number of leads or clicks they can drive through campaigns. Furthermore, marketing efforts are often intended to boost brand awareness, which can’t be directly tied to revenue (and therefore might seem less valuable in the eyes of sales reps). 

This discrepancy might not seem like a huge deal, but it creates a divide in the way both departments approach and define success. The fact that marketing hustles to increase lead volume doesn’t automatically translate into more revenue—especially if it’s up to the sales team to weed out low-quality leads. 

Inconsistent Messaging 

Message mismatch is one of the fastest ways to make a lead lose interest. It occurs when marketing and sales don’t align on value props or pain points solved by a particular product, service, or software.

For example, the benefits highlighted in a marketing campaign (say, a SaaS landing page targeting real estate agents) might not line up with the benefits mentioned by the sales rep who follows up on a sales call. In this example, the SaaS company loses credibility in the eyes of the realtor, which decreases the likelihood of converting them into a paying customer.

How would this same scenario play out if marketing and sales aligned instead of developing their messaging separately? Ideally, the sales rep would already know that the lead was interested in features and use cases targeting realtors. Maybe the sales rep would share an anecdote (provided by marketing) about how another real estate agent uses the software to connect with more buyers—thereby reinforcing the benefits that attracted the realtor to the SaaS company in the first place.

Tips for Achieving Marketing and Sales Alignment at Your Organization

Aligning your marketing and sales team might seem like a ton of work, especially if you have no idea where to start. Follow these tips to help your teams find common ground and recognize the value of approaching their processes collaboratively.

Agree on Definitions

To ensure everyone is on the same page, sales and marketing professionals should agree upon certain definitions. Bring both departments together to define key concepts, including your ideal customer profile, buyer personas, marketing-qualified leads, sales-qualified leads, and grounds for disqualifying leads. Create a shared guideline for what a high-quality lead looks like and what characteristics or actions suggest a lead is ready to move from MQL to SQL.

It sounds simple, but lead scoring becomes infinitely more useful when sales and marketing speak the same language. Establishing a shared baseline understanding of these basic concepts will make communicating and defining the rest of the sales process that much easier. 

Implement Account-Based Marketing 

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach for identifying, targeting, and nurturing outbound leads. So, rather than marketing generating warm leads and handing them off to sales without any overlap, ABM requires sales and marketing to work in tandem. 

Together, sales and marketing professionals define their ideal target accounts, engage with buyers through a relevant mix of channels, develop personalized offerings, and nurture existing accounts to maximize customer retention.

ABM flips the traditional sales funnel on its head to support better outcomes for both sales and marketing. The ABM model even makes it possible for teams to align on shared KPIs—because everyone is working together to identify and connect with the same target accounts.

The traditional sales funnel vs. account-based marketing

Collaborate on Messaging

Aim to get buy-in from both departments before launching a new campaign or landing page. For example, an aligned sales team might be able to provide valuable feedback—or even lend a voice—for a new social media campaign or content marketing project before it goes live.

Encourage marketing to help sales reps write compelling outreach, nurturing, and follow-up emails to ensure consistent messaging throughout the buying process.

Encourage Open Communication

When marketing and sales teams don’t work together to address the challenges of generating leads, both sides suffer. The root of the problem is a lack of communication. If you work in isolated silos, you don’t have the benefit of sharing data, insights, customer details, and messaging strategies.

To begin integrating marketing and sales workflows, schedule regular meetings for all marketers and sales reps. Whether these meetings are weekly, biweekly, or even monthly, encourage both teams to share updates, ideas, and strategies. Maintaining an open flow of information between sales and marketing can help reinforce the very real links between marketing strategy and sales results.

Leverage Sales Tools & Marketing Automation

Here are some of the easiest ways to use technology to align your teams:

  • Hold Each Other Accountable: Reduce friction and increase accountability by inviting both teams to share a project management workspace, like Asana, Trello, or
  • Stay Connected: Create a “smarketing” Slack channel and encourage team members to collectively brainstorm new digital marketing initiatives. 
  • Share Lead and Customer Data: Whether your team prefers HubSpot or Salesforce, get everyone using the same CRM for lead and customer data management.

Streamline Your Lead Management with Accurate Data

One of the best ways to help sales and marketing align—and achieve—their goals? By ensuring everyone on your team has access to the best data on leads, prospects, and customers.

With a tool like Datanyze, your team members can source and share reliable lead data faster than ever. The Datanyze Chrome extension makes it simple to find and connect with leads while browsing LinkedIn. From there, it’s easy to export your leads (and their contact data) to your CRM, so both marketing and sales can see active deals, conversation details, and which new leads have the most potential.

Looking to streamline your lead gen processes? Try Datanyze for free to see how quickly you can generate new leads for your marketing and sales teams.