September 30, 2021
By Emily Ferron, Content Director
“Sales and marketing alignment” is a buzzy term, thanks in part to attention-grabbing statistics like these:
If you’re among the B2B business leaders tasked with getting these two teams in sync, you’ll need to connect the dots between the concept of alignment and its impact on the buyer’s journey.
To gain buy-in, effect change, and reap the benefits, be prepared to explain why alignment between sales and marketing is so important. Here, we break down some of the mechanisms behind how alignment positively impacts sales and marketing outcomes.
It can be helpful to frame your goal not as internal alignment, but as collective alignment with your customer. The point is not just to have sales and marketing get along, but for them to understand their respective roles in achieving the shared goal: generating revenue by solving customers’ business problems. That means both teams need to know and anticipate what these problems are.
Once sales and marketing teams internalize key aspects of the ideal buyer profile, they can create customer-centric messaging appropriate to their respective stages in the buyer’s journey. Marketing teams must attract, engage, and nurture the prospects that can most benefit from their solutions. Sales teams must guide these prospects toward a decision. While the topics and themes of these engagements change as prospects turn into opportunities, both teams need to speak to customer pain points and aspirations to connect, win trust, and drive conversions.
In Ironpaper’s B2B marketing survey, 31% of B2B sales and marketing professionals reported that a lengthening sales cycle is the biggest change impacting their ability to create revenue. When asked to identify the leading causes of lost prospects from the pipeline, 22% of respondents said they can’t keep leads engaged through the entire cycle.
Sales and marketing share responsibility for keeping leads hot. Both teams have their work cut out for them, survey findings suggest:
The shift to a digital buyer's journey has been going on for years, with a decisive push from COVID-19. B2B organizations are challenged to maintain a digital, rather than in-person, connection to the buyer. According to McKinsey, “Only about 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales, even in sectors where field-sales models have traditionally dominated, such as pharma and medical products.”
The digital pipeline benefits from alignment and it can simplify the alignment process too. The right digital marketing automation and CRM tools, used correctly and consistently, offer a single source of truth about each contact. This foundation enables sales and marketing teams to take agreed-upon actions to nurture specific leads based on their place in the buyer’s journey.
ABM is a leading priority for B2B teams adjusting to post-COVID pipelines. However, ABM pipelines with a collective revenue generation goal often require higher touch and hyper buyer-centric messaging than more siloed strategies that evaluate team success strictly by lead volume. It can be difficult or impossible to scale without the right tech stack.
The good news is that many of the same software tools that aid the digitized buyer’s journey also empower ABM strategies such as targeting by account/company and increased personalization. Together, these tools and tactics have a synergistic effect. LinkedIn studies have found 82% of B2B marketers said ABM greatly improves the alignment between marketing and sales, and that there’s a strong correlation between a company’s level of alignment and its level of ABM success.
With so many shared goals, there’s simply no reason for sales and marketing teams to independently reinvent the wheel. It’s logical that increased resource sharing can lead to lower expenses and higher returns.
For example, another key finding from Ironpaper’s survey is that 28.6% of salespeople viewed a lack of data/insights as a barrier to generating more revenue, while only 7.6% of marketers noted this struggle. This metric suggests that data and insight sharing could be the low-hanging fruit for many organizations looking to promote and benefit from cross-team alignment.
Wheelhouse Advisors, How to Align Sales & Marketing to Boost Revenue by 208% [INFOGRAPHIC].
MarketingProfs, The Power of 'Smarketing' (Marketing and Sales Alignment) [Infographic], July 21, 2021.
LinkedIn, Moments of Trust.
McKinsey & Company, These eight charts show how COVID-19 has changed B2B sales forever, October 14, 2020.
B2B NewsNetwork, 5 Best Ways CRM Can Align Sales and Marketing, September 27, 2019.
Smart Insights, B2B marketing trends for more leads and sales in 2021, November 11, 2020.
LinkedIn, Account-Based Marketing Stats Every Strategist Should Know, July 2, 2020.
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