B2B sales and marketing alignment: Best practices for long-term growth
Effective coordination between sales and marketing is critical to achieving business success. By working together under a shared vision, these teams can better understand and target their customers and deliver a more cohesive customer experience. B2B sales and marketing alignment mean more high-quality leads and, ultimately, increased revenues.
Unfortunately, many B2B businesses have yet to achieve that panacea. Silos between teams continue to plague many companies, with 96% of sales and marketing professionals admitting that they have difficulties with strategy alignment. It’s sales and marketing alignment statistics like these that highlight the need for revenue operations, or RevOps.
How to achieve B2B sales and marketing alignment?
RevOps strategically aligns sales and marketing under the umbrella of customer experience. The approach aims to address common barriers to revenue growth, such as poor lead quality, misaligned messaging, lack of accountability, inefficient internal processes, and inconsistent customer experiences.
In this guide, we’re going to explore the strategies best practices for sales and marketing alignment that are required to achieve long-term revenue growth.
1. Target the right leads
Poor lead quality is one of the most common reasons for disappointing conversion rates. For example, the marketing team might leverage search engine optimization to boost traffic, but it doesn’t mean much if the leads that come in aren’t from your target market. In other words, visitors might land on the page after seeing your website in the search results, but the right ones won’t convert if they don’t immediately find what they’re looking for.
If marketing teams aren’t generating quality leads, sales teams end up overburdened as they struggle to convert them into sales. RevOps can help by analyzing data to better understand what potential customers want. This facilitates better communication and collaboration across the customer journey, leading to more effective lead generation and higher conversion rates.
Effective lead generation strategies include lead scoring and account-based marketing (ABM). For example, a B2B SaaS company may consider those who have signed up for a free trial to be their most promising leads, at which point ABM kicks in with a personalized, multi-channel strategy that involves both sales and marketing working together to sort, prioritize and convert the leads.
Lead scoring is another proven way to identify and target the right leads. By assigning scores to leads based on their behavior and demographics, sales and marketing teams know who to target and can prioritize those who are most likely to convert. To effectively score leads, you need to have a clear picture of your ideal customer profile (ICP). If you have customers, but not an ICP, you can build attributes based on the characteristics of your best existing customers.
By aligning sales and marketing strategies in these ways, marketing teams can leverage data-driven insights to continuously optimize their targeting, while sales personnel no longer have to worry about wasting their efforts following up with the wrong people.
2. Align messaging and content
Misaligned messaging between sales and marketing initiatives creates confusion and results in missed opportunities. Would-be customers often drop out of the pipeline if the messaging and content they engage with lack consistency. This disjointed experience also has broader consequences, such as reduced brand trust and loyalty.
To achieve marketing and sales alignment for improved effectiveness, it’s essential to treat sales and marketing as two parts of the same customer experience. A RevOps approach promotes true collaboration which ensures consistent and compelling messages that resonate with prospects at exactly the right stage of their journey.
An integrated and aligned sales and marketing strategy involves building customer personas and mapping content and messaging to each stage of the customer journey. Buyer personas provide RevOps practitioners with valuable insight into the pain points, preferences and decision-making processes of their target audiences. Sales and marketing teams can then align on these to create targeted content, such as social media posts, email campaigns and marketing collateral, that helps move potential customers towards a purchase decision.
The entire experience that a customer has with SaaS companies determines not just whether a sale happens, but also their lifetime value (LTV). To that end, an aligned sales and marketing team is more like a flywheel, in that it uses a circular strategy with content that aims to keep customers continuously engaged and loyal. For example, because they are the ones who are in direct contact with prospects and customers, sales teams have the insights into the pain points and preferences that marketers need to create value-adding content.
This is why you need a collaborative process. By working together to create buyer personas and map content to the customer journey, sales and marketing teams can develop a consistent process that keeps the most promising leads on track to become customers.
3. Establish shared goals and metrics
It makes sense for sales and marketing teams to have their own goals and metrics. That said, they should be aligned under the same vision. With a clear understanding of what they want to achieve and how their efforts complement each other’s efforts, you can overcome the lack of accountability that comes with siloed sales and marketing operations. RevOps can help establish these shared goals and metrics, while continuously tracking progress towards achieving them.
One of the most important metrics is the percentage of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that become sales qualified leads. This one metric effectively sums up the degree of alignment between your sales and marketing teams. A high percentage suggests that everyone is on the same page, while a low one points to a clear misalignment.
Taking a deeper dive into the relationship between sales and marketing, you have the MQL to Opportunity ratio. This metric helps you track and validate the contribution that the marketing team makes to the sales pipeline. MQL to Revenue ratio works similarly, albeit with a focus on the value of the closed sales deals.
Tracking these metrics helps sales and marketing teams understand the value each one offers to the pipeline. In doing so, it helps establish a culture of accountability in which both teams are clear on their roles and responsibilities and how they support the broader vision. Other important metrics include the length of the buying cycle, the performance of individual campaigns and sales reps, and any points of friction where customers fall out of the funnel.
While each team’s role focuses on a different stage of the customer journey, marketing and sales should be aligned around the same goals to drive accountability. This way, if something isn’t working, you’ll be able to pinpoint the issue and take corrective action quickly based on relevant and accurate data.
4. Streamline internal processes
Inefficient internal processes are the bane of any smooth customer experience. Unfortunately, they’re an inevitability when sales and marketing teams operate in silos. If that happens, you end up with redundant and conflicting processes that waste time and resources, all the while negatively impacting the customer journey.
RevOps addresses these problems by aligning people, processes and technology. Effective process alignment involves integrating automation and other tools across sales and marketing to streamline routine operations like lead handoffs and outreach. With a standardized, aligned process, both teams have a clear understanding of their impact on the customer journey. A robust revenue operations team structure should include liaisons to each customer-facing business department.
Although technology is a vital enabler of sales and marketing alignment, everything starts with people. To align your people, you need to establish clear roles and responsibilities. Everyone needs to know exactly which part of the customer journey they’re involved in and how their processes feed into the next stage of the cycle.
The next step is to define your processes. For example, a lead management process concerns how an aligned sales and marketing team handles leads from the moment they’re generated to the moment they’re either passed on to sales or disqualified. The lead management process should include lead scoring, nurturing, tracking, and handoff.
Finally, we have the technology. Automation tools can standardize and streamline repeatable business processes such as lead management and revenue analysis. Not only does this alleviate a lot of the routine manual work involved, it also collects real-time data for accurate insights and forecasting across your entire go-to-market (GTM) flow. Moreover, automation reduces the risk of losing leads due to delays or human error.
5. Focus on customer experience
A lack of alignment between sales and marketing leads to inconsistent customer experiences, such as receiving conflicting messages or experiencing gaps during the buyer journey. Not only can this result in increased friction during the buying process, it also gives the impression that an organization isn’t likely to be a dependable B2B partner. After all, if the marketing, sales, and customer success processes aren’t smooth and unified from a buyer’s perspective, then ongoing support isn’t likely to be best in class either.
The importance of sales and marketing alignment can’t be understated, simply because sales and marketing are the initial customer experience. RevOps plays a key role in that process by breaking down silos and promoting collaboration across teams. Ultimately, getting your internal operations in order also means that you’re better able to deliver a seamless customer experience throughout each stage of the buyer journey.
Effective sales and marketing teams work together under the overarching vision of improving customer experience. They put themselves in their customers’ shoes to understand their pain points and priorities and iron out any potential barriers to their journey. In a RevOps scenario, sales and marketing teams map out the customer journey together and identify all of the key touchpoints where customers interact with the business. They then decide who’s responsible for each touchpoint and how they can make every interaction count.
Another revenue operations benefit from sales and marketing alignment is that it grants easier access to relevant and timely customer data. By connecting all your customer-facing data sources to a revenue analysis platform, teams are better able to access and share the insights that are relevant to each stage of the customer journey. This in turn helps you easily identify any potential barriers to conversions, continuously and proactively improving the customer journey.
Getting started with B2B sales and marketing alignment
Businesses can no longer afford to work in silos when it comes to delivering modern customer journeys that meet rising demands. B2B sales and marketing alignment stats suggest that having both teams work together can boost revenue growth by over 200%. RevOps is a proven strategy for bridging the gaps and enabling a cohesive experience that delights customers and keeps your revenues on a healthy upward trend.
Want to learn more about how to align your sales and marketing efforts using a RevOps approach? Schedule a demo with one of our revenue experts today.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to improve lead generation through sales and marketing alignment?
Some ideas that help improve lead generation through aligning the GTM teams include developing buyer personas together, creating content that speaks to the target audience, collaborating on lead nurturing campaigns, and measuring and analyzing the effectiveness of lead generation efforts.
How to improve customer engagement through sales and marketing alignment?
Aligning sales and marketing can help SaaS companies by creating a cohesive customer journey that seamlessly transitions from marketing to sales, providing personalized and relevant content to customers at each stage of the journey, and ensuring that the customer's needs are the focus of all interactions.
How to measure the success of its sales and marketing alignment efforts?
A SaaS company can measure the success of its sales and marketing alignment efforts by tracking metrics such as lead quality, conversion rates, customer engagement, and revenue generated. Additionally, regular communication and feedback between sales and marketing teams can help identify areas for improvement and refine alignment strategies over time.