Sales and Marketing Alignment Means So Much More Today

July 31, 2018 Karen Steele

We have been having the same conversation for nearly 20 years, sales and marketing alignment is critical for B2B companies. Today, the discussion around alignment has changed drastically, as a result of shifts in business strategy needed to drive growth and ROI. With the rise of ABM, a partnership between sales and marketing trusted marketing attribution and a new phased approach to sales and marketing planning, cross-team alignment has become a critical component for revenue generation for B2B companies. 

The Rise of ABM 
Account-based marketing, or account-based sales, as we all know is not a new concept. B2B companies have been executing some account-based strategy for decades but what has changed the game is the amount of available technological solutions. As a result, ABM has now become the go-to-market strategies du jour for B2B companies. 

Instead of rushing to purchase every available “ABM” solution and build what in their mind is an integrated stack, B2B companies must ensure that they have an accurate data foundation in place. Without a reliable, precise data foundation, B2B sales and marketing teams are unable to align with to deliver a streamlined buying experience throughout the entire buyer’s journey, thus stunting revenue growth for their organizations. Once the data foundation is in place, sales and marketing teams need to take their alignment to the next level, partnership. 

Trusted Attribution is Required 
Marketing attribution isn’t just for marketing’s benefit. Sophisticated B2B companies want to measure sales and marketing on the same the same metrics. 

In today’s sales and marketing landscape, attribution tends to be an isolated marketing exercise, with KPIs, processes, results confined to and developed in the marketing organization. 

Consequently, that means sales often distrusts marketing-generated and has to do some digging of its own for the full picture … which isn’t a one-day job, and certainly isn’t preferable compared to making more calls. Meanwhile, the wider organization relies on suboptimal marketing campaigns which aren’t fully optimized for revenue, because the pipeline data in their CRM isn’t accurately connected to lead gen. Marketing Attribution is a required combined sales and marketing exercise, whether looking at the buyers' journey (all sales and marketing touches), comparing campaigns or tracking influence or multi-touch generation. 

Marketing Attribution measures a blend of GTM strategies: inbound and outbound, new business and upsells/cross-sell. It allows sales and marketing teams to focus on shared metrics for performance and revenue growth. 

Partnership is the Name of the Game 
Having an accurate, solid data foundation in place is only the first step. Rather than focusing on alignment, B2B sales and marketing teams need to build and maintain a strong partnership. As Tracy Eiler, CMO, InsideView, mentioned during her presentation at SiriusDecisions Summit, “marketing exists to make sales easier.” Since marketing is at the forefront of the customer journey, it is their responsibility to support sales in enabling them to engage throughout the trip to driving revenue properly. At the same token, sales teams have a responsibility to work with marketing, including business planning. A strong partnership between sales and marketing teams is a good sign that the revenue generation engines of B2B organizations are thriving. 

Once the partnership is in place, the next step is to ensure that sales and marketing teams are working together to develop and execute effective plans to grow revenue. 

New Phased Approach to Planning 
Traditionally, planning has been done in separate silos, with sales and marketing teams notifying each other once the plans have been solidified and are into motion. This old-school approach has been an obstacle for B2B companies to accelerate the time to revenue. 

I had the opportunity to attend Steve Silver and Craig Moore’s session on sales and marketing alignment for business planning at SiriusDecisions Summit. During their talk, Steve and Craig outlined a new, three-phased approach planning model that debunked the traditional approach to planning which has been an obstacle for sB2B companies regarding sales and marketing productivity, revenue generation for such a long time. The primary takeaway was, it is up to sales and marketing teams to partner together to develop, execute a practical plan to drive higher revenue for their company. The planning process includes three core phases: business alignment, functional interlock, and execution readiness. Without that partnership in place, B2B companies will continue to struggle with delivering a streamlined buying experience to grow revenue for their respective companies. 

Sales and Marketing alignment has become such a critical component of business strategies that B2B organizations can no longer ignore. The alignment between these two revenue-generating teams is the key to enabling successful strategies such as ABM, business planning and more. It’s time for sales and marketing teams to be partners, not enemies.

About the Author

Karen Steele

Karen is responsible for all aspects of product marketing, brand strategy, demand generation, customer and employee advocacy, and the customer journey. Prior to LeanData, Karen was Group Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marketo, where she led the pioneering marketing automation company through its transformation from a public to private company and successfully introduced the New Marketo internally and externally.

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