The latest research by Aberdeen Group, SiriusDecisions, CSO Insights and others suggests that organisations with best-in-class levels of Sales and Marketing Alignment are able to achieve revenue growth rates 20-24% faster than their poorly-aligned competitors. So why is it that well-aligned organisations remain in the minority - and what can business leaders do to change this?
The benefits of alignment seem overwhelming:
- Aberdeen Group found that highly aligned organisations achieved an average 20% annual revenue growth even in the current economic climate compared to an average 4% decline for their poorly-aligned competitors
- The effect seems to hold true over the longer-term, as well: Sirius Decisions found that B2B organisations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth
- Finally, CSO Insights, in their recently published 2011 Sales Performance Optimisation study, found that companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes had an average of 10% more of their sales people on quota
7 essential foundations
I’ve carefully studied the winning habits of some of the best-aligned organisations, and I believe that I can identify 7 common factors that seem to be particularly important in laying the foundations for exceptional sales and marketing alignment:
- Creating one plan that spans all your key sales and marketing functions and which ensures that every single member of those teams is on exactly the same page, facing in exactly the same direction and motivated to achieve exactly the same goals.
- Managing one pipeline that aligns and integrates all your sales and marketing actions around a common understanding of how you can together most effectively and profitably raise awareness, generate demand and convert interest into revenue
- Agreeing ideal prospect profiles for each of your key target markets that ensure that marketing are targeting the right sort of prospects and that sales people are qualifying consistently and accurately from the earliest stages of the sales process
- Defining “sales ready leads” in a way that ensures that marketing are generating exactly the sort of leads that the sales organisation will want to actively follow up - and which are likely to convert into forecastable sales opportunities
- Establishing service level agreements between sales and marketing - starting with how “sales ready leads” are to be managed - that clearly define mutual responsibilities and expectations, reviewing and if necessary adjusting them on a regular basis
- Setting clear data quality standards for the completeness, accuracy and timeliness of all the significant information required to successfully manage the marketing and sales process - and make sure ownership for data quality is clearly assigned
- Implementing common measures, metrics and reward systems that are thoughtfully designed to encourage and incentivise the collaborative behaviours you are looking for throughout the sales and marketing functions
Generating momentum through alignment
Individually, each of these initiatives can help to give a positive impetus to the challenge of growing revenue, profit and market share - but when implemented together they can generate a remarkable degree of momentum.
Much of the talk about sales and marketing alignment has historically had an internal perspective, and has concentrated on getting the two functions working together better. But I believe that the real gains come when both functions are aligned around a common externally-directed understanding of who their most valuable prospects are, what issues really matter to them, and how and why these prospects typically choose to buy.
These benefits come from not just identifying their most valuable prospects and customers, but from identifying with them - from seeing things through their prospect’s perspective, and by deeply understanding the motivations and concerns of the people responsible for making buying decisions.
You can download the full guide to achieving sales and marketing alignment here. Your organisation may already be well on the road to achieving excellent sales-marketing-customer alignment, and if you are, I’d love to hear about the techniques that you’ve found most valuable in getting you there…