The handbook for B2B sales and marketing alignment

The handbook for B2B sales and marketing alignment

A handbook on why and how to create the alignment that can boost business growth.

Benefits of integrating of sales and marketing

Do you know that you can have 36% higher customer retention by aligning sales and marketing?

Well, that is a good reason to align your sales and marketing, isn’t it! Some may be candid enough to admit that all is not well between sales and marketing, while some would even claim that alignment is already in place in their organization! Even if you fall in that rare category (and congratulations if you do!), this guide will help you to trim the wings a bit and help you fly higher.

As a marketer or a business leader, here is the guide to help you check if your sales and marketing teams are really aligned or not. Also, we aim to offer some advice if you spot any mismatch in sales and marketing teams.

Sales Leader Research

The game of B2B markets is a dance between sales and marketing!

While sales and marketing are created to help each other, both departments are often fighting the battle alone. Internal misalignment, lack of common goals, and internal performance pressures can and indeed creates misalignments between these two seemingly friendly departments.

Sales and marketing alignment

So how are you going to do the balancing act? How and why are there these misalignments? Which ones to tackle first? What should be our way to go about it? We aim to answer all of these questions for you; here’s one to the first question “Why is there misalignment between the sales and marketing department?”

While the traditional buying funnel was active, marketing and sales had different goals and different hand-off points. Now, the B2B marketplace is changing.

The new sales funnel here:  As you can understand from the diagram below, the “buying funnel” is changing its behavior.

The new sales and marketing funnel

Technology has enabled the B2B consumer to be savvy. As high as 57% of your potential B2B customers actively research about products and services similar to yours, even before arriving at your site. Also, there is increased awareness and change of responsibility in the buying process.

Sales and marketing teams need to understand each other’s roles, goals, and responsibilities to drive revenue for the business, together.

Questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Are the sales and marketing teams in your organization using shared goals?
  2. What is each team’s understanding of ‘ownership’ of a lead? How is it passed from one team to another?

Speaking the same language:

Sales and marketing both have access to data, but the question is, “ARE THEY USING THE SAME DATA?” and if the answer is NO, then that is your first warning flag. Often there are multiple marketing and sales CRM tools, and many of them are used together. If your organization uses various tools, you need to do an audit about passing data from one tool to another.

Make no mistake, and if your data is not aligned, your teams will find it very hard to align themselves. 

A tip: Don’t be put off by mismatched data or bad data in older systems. That is how it starts.

Are your teams talking about the same B2B customer? That is, is there a “single source of truth”?

When there are multiple systems to operate, confusion is the likely outcome. Give both teams an opportunity to sit together and agree on having their data from the same source. Most of the CRM / Marketing tools have the ability to export data in some spreadsheet app like Microsoft Excel or Google sheet.

When both teams are using the same data source, then the chance of confusion reduces dramatically. So, when the marketing team is working on creating a lead generation, and they pass the qualified lead to the sales team, it is easier to see the journey in one single dashboard kind of display. The B2B selling needs additional inputs like – organization name, size, key decision-makers, etc.

This helps in moving to the next step: creating an integrated process for marketing and sales.

Benefits: Sales can quickly look at a prospect’s history and get the whole picture. They can give feedback to the marketing team. Closing the feedback loop is important because only then can any increase in productivity is possible. Also, when a single source of truth is established, marketing and sales can focus on the process rather than worrying about data mismatch. Then marketing teams can start thinking about how to build successful demand generation campaigns which will boost leads.

B2B Sales and marketing alignment

Agree on “qualified leads” and buyer’s journey from lead to conversion:

The sales team and marketing team need to agree on what qualities to look for when a lead is marked as “qualified.” The marketing team should be able to understand the following:

  • Which market segment to focus on
  • What is the ideal customer profile

Based on these inputs from sales, marketers can then create B2B lead generation campaigns and supporting materials that can attract tons of inbound leads.

The qualified lead saves time for the sales team. When they are talking about closing the deal or pitching the deal, they can focus on the relevant data. If the lead is not qualified a lot of time, the sales team will waste their time on other aspects of the buyer’s journey, which the marketing team could have handled.

Lead scoring: The lead scoring process helps both teams to understand and create the benchmark for a Market Qualified lead (MQL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

Based on the data and team inputs, both teams can create benchmarks to arrive at an agreement about the lead quality. There are various frameworks like the “Budget, Authority, Need, Timing” (BANT) framework to assess lead quality.

Communication between the teams!

No matter how much technology you use, communication between the sales and marketing teams is the key. When working on a B2B sales campaign, the marketing team needs to educate the sales team about what kind of collateral the team is creating and ask for the sales team’s feedback once they start using this material.

The sales team needs to communicate with the marketing team about which B2B segment they are trying to target and why. Then the marketing team can create campaigns and show them to the sales team. This way, both teams understand the role played by other team members.

The marketing team will then start executing the campaigns, filtering the leads based on sales input, and creating MQL (market qualified leads). We are not just talking about formal communication through emails. We are talking about frequent, short bursts of communications happening on all channels alike. Like using slack /WhatsApp / emails etc.

sales and marketing alignment matters
b2b sales and marketing improving survey

Measuring the progress:

When you integrate the data and system, the next step is having KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) based on the common goals. Marketing and sales can create common goals and take responsibility for specific parts of the process.

For example, if the common goal is having 30 B2B accounts (new acquisitions ), then based on this input, both teams can set their goals.

The marketing team can look at:

  • To arrive at a set goal figure, how many B2B leads need to be generated?
  • How to create campaigns, and how many campaigns should be run?
  • How to nurture leads?
  • How to create Account-Based Management (ABM) campaigns

Then the sales team can have a look at

  • How to create opportunities from the MQL?
  • How to close B2B sales deals using strong marketing materials and collaterals
sales and marketing are aligned

Results you may expect!

Once the teams are aligned, your organization can expect higher revenue and other benefits. There will be better customer retention, and post-purchase support can create a great reputation.

The sales team can focus on productive leads while having confidence that cold leads are getting nurtured by the marketing team. The marketing team can focus on lead generation and see how they are contributing to the sales success.

Why Alignment is worth the effort

Here are the key takeaways:

  1. Start with aligning data and creating a single source of truth
  2. Create systems that define ownership – clear marking of handover from marketing to sales.
  3. Create formal and informal channels of communication to keep both teams in alignment.

We hope that this handbook helped you assess and take actions to align B2B sales and marketing teams. Do let us know if you implemented some or all actions we outlined!