These are the main signs that your marketing and sales team are out of alignment

I like to compare the relationship between marketing and sales with marriage. It’s about giving and taking. You have to listen to each other, understand the situation for the other and involve each other in what is going on. But most importantly: have fun together.

If things go wrong in a marriage, it really is up to both parties. Although there will always be one party that will not admit that and point to the other. This is also the case in the relationship between marketing and sales. It is not just one party. That is why it is crucial to remain involved as management when it comes to the relationship between marketing and sales within your company.

How do you recognize that things go wrong between marketing and sales? What are important signals? In this blog, we’ll cover the main signs of a lack of alignment between marketing and sales and then explore the best ways to fix it.

Signs of a disrupted relationship between marketing and sales:

  1. Your marketing department sees MQLs as the ultimate success
  2. The lack of systems to measure results integrally.
  3. Your marketers never ask, “What can I do to make the sales process easier?”
  4. Your sales department only creates and uses its own sales materials and content.

Your marketing department sees MQLs as the ultimate success.

Marketing departments are judged on the wrong KPIs for optimal coordination of sales and marketing. If your marketing team focuses exclusively on an MQL metric, it is a huge barrier to coordination between departments.

MQLs (or marketing qualified leads) are often seen as the gold standard for measuring marketing team success, but that mindset isn’t fair to sales departments. A sales team is not judged by its ability to receive leads, but by its ability to convert those leads into customers.

A sales team’s success is mainly measured by the number of deals closed – and there is a significant gap between those two KPIs. Namely, once a MQL is passed, it must transition to an SQL, if there is an opportunity to make a proposal and eventually close a deal.

That creates a huge discrepancy in departmental goals – one that burdens sales more than marketing. If your marketing department is only interested in generating MQLs and not closed deals, it cannot be held responsible for producing mediocre leads.

In this case, it can help to give your marketing department a revenue target, based on closed deals, to make sure your marketers keep your sales team in mind when measuring leads and go the extra mile to stay aligned.

You do not have the right systems to measure results integrally

Communication is crucial when trying to coordinate your sales and marketing efforts. If you want your teams to be aligned, you cannot separate them. They must interact consistently and in a meaningful way.

Your sales team must be able to provide feedback on the quality of the leads that marketing provides. And both must understand each other’s plans and strategies when it comes to message sharing. When planning specific campaigns, both departments need to know what to expect from each other.

Ultimately, you need to maintain a mutual understanding between departments. Failure to do so can create a gap that can lead to quirky marketing efforts and tension between your sales and marketing teams.

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

Sometimes providing a little insight into each other’s field can help to eliminate disagreements and misalignment between sales and marketing departments. One way to get there is by actively involving your teams in thinking about ways to improve or accelerate your company’s sales process and pipeline.

Marketers are in control of the first few stages of smarketing efforts, so it is often up to them to initiate discussions on how to improve the process. If your marketing team takes the time to better understand how your sales team handles the MQLs, it may be able to adjust efforts to make the sales process a bit smoother.

From there, your teams can engage in an active and constructive dialogue about what they want or expect from each other. At the very least, it shows that your marketing team is eager to help the sales team and keep both departments functioning as a cohesive unit.

Your sales department only makes and uses its own sales materials

Marketing teams are often tasked with developing content to support sales efforts, including case studies, presentations, and product leaflets. Such materials, also known as sales enablement, are different from marketing content.

Where marketing content is more general and attracts attention, sales content is more focused on the situation of the customer. That said, the term “sales” in “sales content” is a bit misleading – marketing departments often play an important role in creating those types of “sales enablement” materials. And if your marketing team has no place in that process, then your departments are probably not aligned.

Marketers are generally better equipped to create content – that’s a big part of their job – so if your sales force takes over that role, it could mean there is some tension or lack of communication between the teams.

Three ways to fix bad alignment

  1. Encourage teams to listen to each other.

If you want to align your sales and marketing efforts, your teams need to listen to each other and – as corny as this sounds – really hear each other. Both departments must have a comprehensive understanding of the sales process.

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

When your teams really want and can hear each other, they can develop the empathy, knowledge, collaboration skills and strategic vision needed to bring the departments together.

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

One of the bigger parts of successfully aligning marketing and sales is promoting and maintaining consistency. You must ensure that your teams work with an understanding of the same ultimate goals, from the same information.

That point begs the question, “How do you keep things cohesive?” You can start by keeping the lines of constant contact open – supplemented by regular meetings and briefings between departments.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s important to have routine sales and marketing syncs to keep both teams aligned in terms of overall goals and daily activities.

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

That kind of visibility can come from mutually accessible technology, such as a CRM that includes both sales and marketing.

  1. Use the input of your sales team in content marketing.

Chances are, your content marketing efforts are greater than necessary. You may be using and promoting content that doesn’t really help your sales.

You want to produce content that enriches the professional life of your customers. Give them insights that educates and intrigues them, and often require a thorough understanding of your potential customers’ interests and desires – sales can provide that information.

Their job is to understand what drives your potential customers, so if you want your marketing department to produce solid content that your sales team can ultimately benefit from, it’s important to involve a number of sales colleagues in your content creation process.

By doing this, you let your sales steer your topic in the right direction, you can give them leads they know have an interest in your offering, promote collaboration between the departments, and give both departments a share in the activities of the other.

Why coordination between marketing and sales is a must for companies?

You may ask, “Is alignment between marketing and sales really that important? Should my company really go to the trouble of making sure those departments are in sync?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Marketing and sales alignment is just as important as this blog suggests. It hurts your business if you can’t control it, and it doesn’t just affect one of your departments.

It undermines the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts as a whole. A Forrester survey found that 43% of CEOs believed that a misalignment had cost them sales.

If you want to get the best out of one of your teams, make sure they are aligned and in constant contact. There are certain tips and tricks you can use to get there – all of which are supported by one fundamental strategy: creating an environment that encourages openness and collaboration.

You have to let your sales and marketing departments constantly communicate with each other and learn from each other. If you can facilitate this environment in the office, you will put yourself in the best possible position to have a consistent, fluid exchange of ideas and strategies between departments to get the most out of both teams.

Want to know more? Read our book Marketing Sucks and Sales Too.

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