Revenue Management: It’s Time to Align Marketing and Sales
Amid today’s volatile business environment, CEO’s, Presidents and CROs everywhere find themselves asking a slew of tough questions: How can I secure a five percent increase in business? How can I proactively drive demand? How do I provide the right price to the right customer at the right time?
Although revenue managers confront these challenges every day, they are not alone in their battle. Down the hall – often unbeknownst to revenue managers – marketers and sales leaders are asking themselves many of the same questions but are not working together on the solution.
Although these departments have, historically, operated independently of one another, marketing and sales leaders can significantly enhance the bottom line of their organization by working together. When these teams collaborate, organizations can better sequence business development initiatives to realize increases in revenue, increases in market share, and healthy pipelines during low-demand periods.
In fact, companies with aligned marketing and sales teams are 67% more efficient at closing deals.
There are several reasons for their persistent misalignment, most of which are rooted in the ever-accelerating purchasing cycle and the potential buyer’s ability to easily access information on products:
- Marketing and sales have different goals.
- Inconsistent brand messaging around products, services, and solutions.
- Uncertainty of individual roles and responsibilities through the business development process.
- Incompatible or incomplete software and systems.
A key indicator of misalignment between the two departments is when both fall short of growth projections. One differentiator between Marketing and Sales is that the former has the perspective of lead generation while the latter is preoccupied with revenue generation.
Make changes today to ensure successful initiatives tomorrow.
This topic is germane to many businesses when they are defining goals and sales initiatives for a new fiscal year. During this time, executive management should consider the effects that misalignment between Marketing and Sales teams have on the outcome of these initiatives. You may have a great initiative, but the friction between marketing and sales can prevent it from becoming successful.
A marketing department’s job to generate leads so the sales team can follow up on them and close the deal, but 63% of marketers say this is their most difficult challenge.
There is plenty of data to support the concept, and it is stop-in-your-tracks compelling. HBR says that aligning marketing and sales can create a productive sense of urgency and encourage both teams to do their jobs better. Reputable sources across the industry say that aligning marketing and sales is an important decision that can have a significant impact:
- Organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing teams have 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates (Marketo)
- Organizations reported (on average) a 32% increase in revenue (Forrester Research)
- B2B organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing teams achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit over three years (ZoomInfo)
- $1 trillion in wasted in sales and productivity (Wheelhouse Advisors)
The role that marketing plays in sales achievement is increasing. Marketing tools have become incredibly sophisticated, quickly capturing vital information that sales can use to close deals. Valuable information can be captured with a variety of marketing tools, both internal (your website or customer surveys) and external (such as LinkedIn or ZoomInfo). This information runs the gamut, but here’s a taste: IP address, contact information, products a potential customer has shown interest in, phone number, and even the person’s title and role in their organization.
Even the humblest of marketing departments can leverage big data to convert sales. Information is power, and the typical marketing department should command more respect as a result. While this may be a tough pill to swallow for sales departments, it is a stigma that will need to for the good of all, including the bottom line of the company.
Manage The Change
All of this is well and good, but the act of aligning these two often warring factions takes thoughtful implementation. It is a classic change management problem; you are melding two departments who often have different visions.
At the top of the list is the need to increase structured, regular communication between the marketing and sales team. Doing this aligns goals, visions, understanding of needs/challenges, and messaging. It ensures each team understands how leadership evaluates them and to support each other in achieving those metrics.
Sales responsibilities and expectations should also be defined, as should the marketing department’s responsibilities and expectations – identifying areas of crossover allows for non-hostile coordination.
Next, it is time to give marketing a voice in strategic conversations about business development and growth. Because marketing affects potential leads in a more significant way, you need to keep them in the conversation when it comes to planning sales initiatives.
Last and most importantly, align marketing and sales different touch points across the customer journey. Having a watertight sales process and an equally strong marketing process will allow you to see better where each department can better collaborate.
SDRs often ignore warmed leads from marketing and spend time on their own pipelines only to return to cold MQLs. If sales and marketing take the time to align on goals, lead definition, and handoff process, both teams will spend their time more effectively on converting the most promising leads.
This will require your Directors of Marketing and Sales to sit down to map out the buyer’s daily journey from prospect to SQL. Additionally, they should use this time to create a shared buyer persona.
They may find your current tech stack does not allow you to synchronize your marketing and sales outreach in this way. To be successful, it is essential to leverage automation tools to increase conversions, improve handoffs, and accelerate your pipeline. If you find yourself in this situation, please read our article on how-to choose the right CRM.
A Shifting Pipeline
As a result of robust marketing initiatives, buyers across the market are becoming more educated, and more buyers are entering the sales funnel in later stages because they have already looked at qualified vendors through marketing. Approximately 80 percent of the B2B purchasing cycle is completed before the customer contacts the company. This shifts the sales funnel downwards, making marketing play a more significant role at earlier stages of the pipeline.
If buyers are entering in later stages due to marketing, marketing should be more involved, educative, and influential in strategic conversations around business development. If marketing is an active stakeholder in the sales process, there will be fewer questions about how to handle inbound leads. Marketing can then tee up those leads to make sales to close deals easier, making the sales department’s jobs much more manageable.
Marketing can speak sales language and vice versa, they have the inherent ability to support one another. You want a smooth handoff of leads from the marketing team that has reeled them in and a sales team that can close the deals.