Alignment, that word! When we think of it, we visualise the stars in the sky moving, or coming together in a mystical dance that means something magic is about to happen! The stars are ready to create that magic.
What if we could manage to get our sales and marketing teams aligned? What kind of panacaea would that be? I suppose it would mean that marketing were delivering sweetspot, qualified leads to sales, who in turn are so adept at recognising the buying process and key players in those prospect companies, that they deliver finely tuned value propositions (created by marketing) to each of the players. All the while, managing to reduce the number of steps in the buying process from 6 to 3 and ensuring contracts are signed for more than 5 years at wonderful margins. Sound familiar? No, I didn’t think so, but it is possible!
I’ve long been a fan and follower of Bob Apollo of Inflexion Point. He notes that alignment in sales and marketing is a critical contributor to sustained business success. He puts it far better than I ever could when he outlines his 7 key recommendations to drive alignment in marketing and sales:
1. Develop a single unified plan for sales and marketing
Regardless of whether you’ve chosen to manage sales and marketing as two separate teams or as one integrated organisation, creating a single, unified plan for sales and marketing brings tremendous advantages in ensuring that everyone is on the same page and facing in the same direction.
2. Insist on an integrated approach to managing the revenue creation cycle
It’s becoming increasingly important to manage marketing and sales activities as integrated steps in a revenue creation cycle that spans every stage in the relationship between the vendor and their target markets – from initial research and targeting through prospecting, qualifying, closing and subsequent account development.
3. Agree a clear service level agreement between sales and marketing
Your marketing and sales teams will benefit from agreeing and documenting a clear service level agreement that establishes common definitions for the key stages in the revenue creation cycle, as well as establishing how the two functions commit to work together to move prospects from stage to stage in the process.
4. Establish a common consensus about your “ideal prospect profiles”
Ensuring that sales and marketing agree about the characteristics of an “ideal prospect” in each of your chosen target markets can help ensure that marketing efforts are targeted at finding more of the right sort of prospects, that sales people qualify accurately and early in the sales cycle, and that every action adds value to the prospect’s buying process.
5. Pursue a relentless focus on data quality across the organisation
Poor quality data is a key contributor to many underperforming sales and marketing functions. You simply cannot afford incomplete, inaccurate or out of date information – and yet few organisations have developed consistent data quality measures, or have a programme for continuous data quality improvement. Data quality must become a critical initiative.
6. Establish performance metrics that span the revenue creation cycle
If they are to accurately predict future revenues, and diagnose and deal with the constraints that may be affecting performance, organisations need accurate visibility of the true state of their sales and marketing pipelines, including typical conversion rates from stage to stage and time-based metrics about how long opportunities take to move through the process.
7. Implement consistent goals, incentives and reward systems
Last, but by no means least, every member of the sales and marketing function must be focused and rewarded on the actions and behaviours that will create the greatest value in the revenue creation cycle. This requires a move away from activity-based incentives and towards outcome-based incentives that reflect the true contribution to the greater good.
You can read the full article and others here What’s been your experience, have you tried any of these and, if so what was the outcome? If driving alignment between sales and marketing is a key goal for you this year, talk to us about how we can help you on that path firstname.lastname@example.org