Sales and Marketing Alignment is Rare
65% of marketing content is never used by sales. Let that sink in.
We could write novels about how much money companies spend on under-leveraged marketing efforts each year (spoiler: it’s around $46 billion).
The problem is clear, right? Those lame marketers are failing to create good content and bring in good leads.
Or those lazy salespeople are failing to utilize the great resources that will help them close deals…now I’m confused.
Maybe the problem isn’t so clear.
It’s safe to assume that in (most) companies, both teams are trying to be awesome at their jobs.
“Yeah, but the other team sucks at their job.”
It’s tempting to point fingers at certain individuals.
In fact, in a Sales Hacker case study by Anna Pozniak, that’s what happened. “Sales blamed Marketing for not attracting enough high-quality leads, and Marketing claimed Sales wasn’t nurturing the leads enough.”
When you look closer, the picture becomes clearer.
All the issues on the individual level are symptoms of a greater institutional problem - companies aren’t integrating marketing and sales.
Look at what happens when sales and marketing are aligned:
- Annual company revenue increases by 8.2%
- Brand awareness increases by 8.0%
- Average deal size increases by 6.1%
Financial opportunity costs of misalignment are the tip of the iceberg.
There are social and cultural costs. Including stereotyping, groupthink, and erroneous understanding of corporate strategy.
This leads to missed deadlines, poor quality, and low morale, according to Forbes.
Bad news bears.
Let’s look deeper at this problem...starting with the finger-pointing.
The Love/Hate Relationship (Mostly Hate)
“Sales blames Marketing for not attracting enough high-quality leads.”
You’re in Marketing….
You KNOW how hard it is to find qualified leads.
Heck - you know hard it is to find leads in general.
Your boss says they need 10, 50, 1000 qualified leads for the sales team? That’s your objective - find leads that are willing to say they’re interested.
Whether they really are or not is up to the sales team. As long as you hit that lead quota, you won’t get fired.
Of course, if your leads are consistently terrible, you’ll still be on the hot seat. But unless that happens, you’ll get to keep blaming the sales team for the occasional bad lead and live another day.
“Marketing blames sales for not nurturing leads enough.”
You’re in Sales...
You KNOW how frustrating it is to waste your time with prospects who seem interested, but aren’t ready to buy....just kicking the tires.
....but nothing compares to the feeling of calling “warm leads” that hang up before you can even start your pitch.
Sales is a grind, full of emotional ups and downs. It’s also a game of self-fulfilling prophecies: success breeds more success.
And wasted time leads to failure. From an ego standpoint it’s better to blame a lost account on the marketing team than it is to admit you made a mistake.
Because if you don’t close sooner or later, it’s over.
Sales and marketing are interconnected. Within the current system exists an eternal cycle of scapegoating and blame-shifting.
Of course, both teams would benefit from each other’s success.
Qualified leads from marketing and quick deals from sales is a winning combo.
But success in sales and marketing is hard to find. Why? Well...it requires failure. Something people naturally gravitate away from.
How do we bridge the gap?
The first step is eliminating information barriers.
Eliminating Information Barriers
Marketing is all about the buyer’s journey. In order to appeal to buyers, marketers must know how buyers think.
Some marketers look at their past buying habits, social trends, and past advertising success to guess what their consumers are thinking.
(Maybe that’s why only 35 percent of targeted campaigns reach their desired audience).
We think the best way to understand buyers is to listen to them.
Why conduct focus groups to hear from buyers when you can interface with them in real life situations?
Salespeople do this all day. However, there's not a great way for the marketing team to have insights into what works for them and what doesn’t.
Plus, hearing a bunch of conversations doesn’t help a marketer explain to their boss the reason for the shift in the strategy.
Bosses like graphs and charts, just like salespeople only understand the word,” Yes.”
Ugh. The great divide.
Alas, there’s hope!
Behold, The Future:
(Actually, it’s already here)
With Conversation Intelligence, customer calls can be transcribed and analyzed to provide actionable insights into the mind of the consumer.
In a study by LinkedIn Sales Solutions, 43% of respondents cited broken and flawed processes as a main reason for sales and marketing misalignment.
Conversation Intelligence mends inconsistencies and bridges the information gap by allowing the marketing team to analyze real-time data from real-life conversations.
No more binge-watching YouTube videos called “How to Find Your Target Audience.” If the marketing team has insights into the full sales cycle, they can do a better job pushing leads through the sales funnel.
That way they’re hot and ready for the sales team.
Poor Communication Between Teams
Once this process is fixed, it becomes much easier to attack the larger problem: poor communication between the two teams.
In the above-mentioned study from LinkedIn, 49% of respondents cited communication breakdown as the biggest reason that sales and marketing aren’t aligned.
How do you solve these communication issues? With more communication? That sounds a lot like fighting fire with fire…
What's required: A complete overhaul of the typical broken model. Create a mutually accountable, integrated system that fosters collaboration and increases alignment between the two teams (see: “Smarketing”).
According to Harvard, employees encouraged to reach outside their silos and find colleagues with complementary expertise benefit greatly. They end up learning more, selling more, and gaining skills faster.
Equipping your sales and marketing teams to collaborate is as simple as giving your customer a seat at the table.
Thus eliminating the need to point fingers when things go wrong.
So Now What?
To get started, simply talk to each other to rectify disparate strategies and identify target accounts that are the best fit for your solution. And while that might have been hard before, it’s easy now.
If you can hear the voice of the customer, there’s no guesswork.
There’s no confusion. It’s all there, right in front of your beautiful face.
By utilizing Conversation Intelligence, you’re empowering your customers to express their true voice.
Once they can do that, you’ll be surprised how quickly your teams will transform.
Objectives will shift from “meeting quotas” and “closing deals” to “how can we reach the people that need this stuff.”
And that’s what it’s all about.