B2B Articles - January 19, 2022

Why Do My Leads Suck? Because Sales and Marketing Aren’t Aligned to the Buyer

By Chantel Hall, Marketing Content Specialist and Lauren Lyons, Senior Analyst and Research Writer

There are many reasons that bad leads find their way into your sales funnel, but a fundamental problem for many teams is that marketing and sales do not have a shared buyer definition. Without working toward the same buyer journey and sharing data, both teams will struggle to reach the company's overall growth goals.

In today’s installment of our “Why Do My Leads Suck?” series, we’ll be discussing the importance of sales and marketing alignment to the buyer and how your sales and marketing teams can share insights and data to become a cohesive unit.

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Long sales cycles need more engagement

A long sales cycle and group buying decisions often challenge B2B marketing and sales teams. If you’re selling an expensive product or services that require a significant investment from your customers, you’re not marketing to someone who’s going to make a split-second decision to purchase. 

Businesses usually have multiple people involved in purchase decisions, have to clear purchases with business units like IT or compliance, and have to ensure they are using their budget wisely. Because B2B marketing and sales involves such long awareness-building and research phases, your marketing and sales teams need to be working together to develop content and digital marketing initiatives that will nurture leads through that long process. The crux of this challenge lies in identifying what will resonate with the buyer along that journey.

Keeping leads engaged through the entire sales funnel is crucial. Sales and marketing teams that align with their customers’ needs, share information about engaging and converting customers, and operate using shared data have a much better chance at success.

Account-based marketing requires data sharing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is more than just a marketing trend - it’s a strategy with real staying power. ABM helps marketing and sales attract accounts that are likely to turn into high-value customers by creating customized content and presenting it to a target account in the ideal context. In short: ABM campaigns are designed to fill your sales funnel with leads that don’t suck.

ABM also requires shared data on target accounts and who within those target accounts both sales and marketing have influenced. All of this data must be tracked using a CRM system so both teams have access. With this shared knowledge, marketing and sales can understand the impact they have internally at each target account. 

Sales and marketing aligning with the buyer

It’s easy to talk about sales and marketing alignment - but what does it look like in action? Here’s what you can do to create that alignment through everyday activities.

Facilitate regular communication: Sales and marketing teams should be in contact with each other regularly and openly. As we mentioned earlier, both teams know what works and what doesn’t, and sharing that with their counterparts in the other department will help both teams be more successful. 

Marketing should regularly interview the sales teams to gain insights on the buyers. Furthermore, marketing teams must validate the buyer definition with sales before launching campaigns; otherwise, this could lead to miscommunication and high-quality leads getting thrown out.

When a salesperson closes a deal and hears from the new customer that a particular talking point or campaign was persuasive, they should share that information with the marketing team.

Communication between these teams should be open and unencumbered. Whatever that looks like for your company - a slack channel, a weekly meeting dedicated to information sharing, or daily standups - make it a documented part of your process and make it easy for those teams to work together. Removing administrative barriers and encouraging open communication will allow your sales and marketing teams to get - and stay - in alignment.

Document processes: A key component of aligning sales and marketing to the buyer is developing and documenting processes for handing off leads. These documented processes should include what constitutes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL), when a lead should be moved from the marketing team’s ownership to the sales team’s, and how that happens. Do the leads go through one person on the sales team to be assigned to sales staff? Are they assigned to specific salespeople based on their size or which salesperson specializes in the solution they’re interested in learning about? How does a salesperson determine if a lead should be transferred back to marketing for further nurturing?

Documenting this and ensuring both teams understand when and how leads should move between teams will make the transitions seamless and ensure that leads do not fall through the cracks.

Develop and track shared goals: While some KPIs are unique to sales or marketing, some metrics, like lead quality and conversion rate, are affected by the performance of both teams. Putting these shared goals at the center of your marketing and sales processes will align your teams and keep them working toward the same outcome.

Additionally, it will help each team develop more meaningful goals and measure their progress against a shared growth goal. Instead of focusing on goals like “number of leads called” or “number of social media likes,” both teams will be able to work toward a better understanding of which KPIs make a measurable difference in the quality of leads and the number of conversions.

Create accountability: Both sales and marketing teams should be accountable to each other and their own team. The business’ overall growth depends on both teams meeting their goals; shared accountability allows both teams to support each other and learn through their mistakes and misses.

This doesn’t mean your sales team should be bearing down on the marketing team and constantly questioning their ideas and progress, or vice versa. Both team’s goals should be visible to the other, and there should be open discussion between teams about how they can improve their performance and drive growth.

Automate alignment activities in your CRM: Using a CRM like Hubspot, you can automate certain activities that promote sales and marketing alignment to the buyer. Qualifying leads and assigning them to salespeople, setting notifications for when leads engage with an ad campaign, and workflows that move unqualified leads into remarketing campaigns can all be automated.

Both teams should be involved in setting parameters for when a lead is assigned to a salesperson or moved from the sales funnel into a remarketing campaign - this ensures that there is a shared understanding of what makes a qualified lead, making it less likely that one team will decide to ignore or disqualify a lead the other team thought was qualified. 

Focus on the Buyer

To improve the quality of your leads, the teams that generate and convert leads need to be working together towards a shared set of goals that they develop together. Ultimately, sales and marketing must focus on understanding buyer motivations and creating messaging that inspires and educates the buyer through the entire sales funnel. 

Read the next post in our series here: Why Do My Leads Suck? Because You Haven’t Defined “Good” Leads


HubSpot, The Definition of Smarketing [In Under 100 Words], January 22, 2020

HubSpot, Tried-and-True Tips for Sales and Marketing Alignment, February 18, 2021

Marketo, Sales and Marketing Alignment


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