The 4 key signs of your marketing and sales teams are out of alignment

I like to think of marketing and sales as the main character in a buddy cop film.

Sales is the troop’s grizzled veteran who keeps repeating that it is them “too old for that” whenever a crazy mishap starts. And Marketing is the hot-headed rookie with a chip on his shoulder who wants to prove to everyone that he has what it takes to be the first bow-legged sergeant or something.

There’s a lot of potential for a pretty compelling story if the two get along, but let’s imagine a movie where they don’t.

In this film, the two have neither chemistry nor mutual respect. They let most criminals get away with a lack of communication and don’t ripple back and forth tears throughout the film.

And worst of all, they don’t end the movie with a still frame where they jump in the air and get into a perfect high-five before the credits roll in.

Nobody wants to see this type of dysfunction in film – just like nobody wants to see this type of misalignment between sales and marketing in business. That is why it is important to always stay up to date when it comes to your business.

It covers the main signs of marketing and sales misalignment, and introduces some of the best ways to fix this problem.

Signs of marketing and sales misalignment

  1. Your marketing department only cares about MMS.
  2. You don’t have consistent cross-departmental syncs to address results and planned campaigns.
  3. Your marketers never ask, “What can I do to make the sales process easier for you?”
  4. Your sales department only creates and uses its own sales content.

1. Your marketing department only cares about MMS.

According to Troy Arias, Marketing Operations Manager at DaxkoMarketing departments often prioritize the wrong KPIs for optimal sales and marketing alignment. He says, “If your marketing team is focused solely on one MMS metric, this is a huge barrier to alignment between departments.”

MMS (or Marketing Qualified Leads) is often touted as the gold standard for measuring the performance of marketing teams, but that mentality is not fair to sales departments. A sales team isn’t judged on their ability to get leads – they are judged on their ability to convert those leads into customers.

Most sales team success is measured by closed bookings – and most sales pipelines have a significant gap between these two KPIs. Once an MMS has been submitted, it must move to an SQL, be viewed as an opportunity, and receive a proposal before closing.

Signs that you are not aimed at selling

Image source: HubSpot

This creates a massive discrepancy in departmental goals – one that weighs more on sales than marketing. If your marketing department is only concerned with MMS generation and not closed bookings, it won’t be held responsible for creating mediocre leads.

In this case, it can be helpful to have your marketing department set a closed-booking revenue target to ensure your marketers are keeping an eye on your sales team as they measure leads and going the extra mile to stay on the same page.

2. You don’t have consistent cross-departmental synchronizations to address results and planned campaigns.

Communication is key when trying to align your sales and marketing efforts. If you want your teams to be on the same page, there is no way you can keep them isolated. They have to consistently interact with each other in a meaningful way.

Your sales team needs to be able to discuss the results of lead marketing. And both need to understand each other’s plans and strategies when it comes to messaging. Also, when planning specific campaigns, both departments need to know what to expect from each other.

Ultimately, you need to maintain mutual understanding between departments. If you don’t, you can create a divide that can lead to headstrong smarketing efforts and tension between your sales and marketing teams.

3. Your marketers never ask, “What can I do to make the sales process easier for you?”

Sometimes a little thought and legitimate interest can help smooth out any inconsistencies and misalignments between sales and marketing departments. One way to get there is to have your teams actively look for ways to improve or speed up your company’s sales process and pipeline.

The marketers are in control of the early stages of the smarketing effort. Therefore, they often need to initiate discussions about how the process can be improved. If it takes your marketing team a second to better understand how your sales team is handling the MMS it is passing on, they can potentially adjust their efforts to make the sales process a little smoother.

From there, your teams can begin an active and constructive dialogue about what they want or expect from each other. At the very least, it shows that your marketing team wants to listen to your sales team and have both departments work as a cohesive unit.

4. Your sales department creates and uses only its own sales content.

Marketing teams are often hired to create content to aid the sales effort – including case studies, presentation decks, and one-pagers. This type of collateral, known as Sales contentdiffers from marketing content.

Where marketing content is more general and more attention-grabbing, sales content is more targeted and brand-specific. However, the term “sales” in “sales content” is somewhat misleading – marketing departments often play an important role in creating this type of collateral. And if your marketing team doesn’t have a place in this process, your departments are probably not on the same page.

Marketers are generally better equipped to create content – that’s a big part of their job. If your sales department monopolizes this role, it can mean there is tension or lack of communication between teams.

Three ways to fix bad alignment

1. Encourage teams to listen to each other.

If you want your sales and marketing efforts to be aligned, your teams need to listen to each other and – as cheesy as that sounds – actually do Listen each other. Both departments need to have a thorough understanding of your sales process.

If it doesn’t, neither can make the thoughtful, actionable recommendations needed to improve each department’s role in it. Sales and marketing both need to consider each other’s perspective – to listen and learn until they can fully explain both sides of your sales process.

This can at least partially resolve one of the points listed above. When your teams are willing and able to listen to each other, they can develop the empathy, knowledge, collaboration skills, and strategic vision needed to bring the departments together.

2. Strive for consistency in expectations, data, and technology.

One of the most important aspects of successfully aligning marketing and sales is promoting and maintaining consistency. You need to make sure that your teams are working to an understanding of the same end goals based on a foundation of the same information.

This point begs the question: “How do you keep things so coherent?” Well, you can start by keeping the constant lines of contact open – supplemented by frequent interdepartmental meetings and briefings.

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to have routine syncs between sales and marketing so that both teams stay on one side on overall goals and day-to-day operations.

It is also important that both sales and marketing have access to the same data to serve as a reference point for their mutual and individual efforts. It helps a marketing department see how their work affects sales and vice versa.

This type of visibility can come from a mutually accessible technology – such as CRM this includes both sales and marketing.

3. Consider your sales team’s contributions to content marketing.

There is a solid chance your content marketing efforts are more bloated than they need to be. You may be sticking to and promoting content that doesn’t really help your sales reps.

You want to produce content that enriches your customers’ professional lives. Give them insights that will educate and intrigue them, and which often require a deep understanding of your prospect’s interests and wants. Sellers can provide this information to you.

It’s your job to understand what makes your prospects and customers tick. So, if you want your marketing department to produce solid content that your sales team can ultimately use, it’s important to involve some sales reps in your content creation process.

This way, you let your sales reps steer your topic in the right direction by giving them pointers that they know have a personal interest in your offering, encourage and give cross-departmental collaboration both Departments participate in each other’s operations.

Marketing and sales alignment is a must for businesses

You may be wondering “Is marketing and sales alignment really that important? Does my company really need to make the effort to make sure those departments are in sync?”

The answer is “Absolutely! Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! Yes, again!”

Alignment of marketing and sales is just as important as this article suggests. It hurts your business across the board if you don’t understand it, and it doesn’t just affect one of your departments.

This undermines the overall effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts. A study by ranger 43% of CEOs felt that misalignment had cost them revenue.

When you want to get the best out of yourself either Of your teams, you need to make sure they are on the same page and in constant touch. There are certain Tips and Tricks You can employ to get there – all of this is underpinned by a basic strategy: Creating an environment that encourages openness and collaboration.

Your sales and marketing departments need to constantly interact and learn from one another. If you can enable this type of environment in your office, you are in the best possible position to have a consistent, fluid exchange of ideas and strategies between departments and get as much as possible from both teams.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated for completeness.

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