Sales and Marketing Alignment, From the Bottom Up

By Madison Taylor
June 19, 2020
small group sitting in a room engaged in discussion

The feud between sales teams and marketing teams is a tale as old as time. To hear the sales team’s side of things, the marketing team is too eager to turn prospects into leads, so they’re handing over leads that aren’t qualified and are hard to convert. From the marketing team’s perspective, the sales team isn’t working hard enough to convert qualified leads.

The solution is better communication. Getting everyone on the same page is easier said than done, but it’s worth the effort — marketing and selling to bad leads is a huge waste of time for a lot of companies, and streamlining that process can save your teams a huge amount of effort. Here’s how to get started.

You Need An SLA

Yes, your sales and marketing teams need to talk, but it doesn’t count unless you write it all down. That’s what a service-level agreement (SLA) is for. An SLA will spell out exactly what the process looks like for finding leads and handing them off to the sales department, including things like:

  • How many leads is the marketing department expected to generate? How many of them should be sales-qualified?
  • What’s the definition of a sales-qualified lead? How are leads scored?
  • Once a lead passes muster, how is the sales team expected to treat it? How many phone calls are they expected to make and over what period of time?
  • What’s the feedback system? If sales is having trouble converting leads of a certain type, how do they tell marketing to stop targeting those prospects?
  • What sales materials will the sales team need to close deals? Who is responsible for generating that content?

Once the relationship and workflow are spelled out, you’ll eliminate a lot of miscommunications.

Meet Often

In a perfect world, you’ll literally sit your marketing and sales teams in the same office space, intermingling their desks. They’re both going after the same thing, after all, and it will help camaraderie and cooperation to build relationships between these two groups.

Even if they can’t comingle all the time, you need regular meetings between the two teams to keep things running smoothly. Each department needs to know what the other is working on, what they’re struggling with, and what they’ve accomplished.

Make sure that your team leadership is meeting, too. You should have a meeting at least once a month with the sales and marketing managers, not to discuss daily operations but to analyze results, re-evaluate the SLA, and go over goals and KPIs.

Get Your Content In Order

One of the oft-neglected aspects of the relationship between sales and marketing is content. Marketers use content to get prospects in the first place, but sales teams need content, too. They need to send their leads whitepapers, articles, price sheets, tutorial videos, and any number of other things to convince them that your product is worth buying, and someone has to produce all that content.

But the content that works best for marketing isn’t necessarily the best for sales. There are countless examples of marketers putting together beautiful, glossy brochures, only to find out that’s not what the sales team wanted. Make sure your two departments are communicating about what kind of content will work best for them.

Take Your Sales Up a Notch

When it’s done right, sales and marketing alignment can be a huge boost to your business. You’re not wasting your time on bad leads, you’re serving the right content at the right time, and you’re giving prospects exactly the amount of attention they deserve. It takes some work to get the relationship right, but your sales will thank you.