The Aberdeen Group have just published a must-read report entitled “Sales and Marketing Alignment Collaboration + Cooperation = Peak Performance”. The report is available for free download until 3rd December 2010 by clicking on this link.
The study surveyed 453 organisations, and came to a conclusion that we have long held to be true – that companies that have well-aligned sales and marketing functions consistently and dramatically outperform their also-ran competitors.
The dramatic gap between the Best-in-Class and the Laggards
Aberdeen characterise the top 20% of the market as “Best-in-Class” and the bottom 30% as “Laggards”. They uncovered staggering differences in performance between the two groups.
To take but two examples, Best-in-Class organisations averaged 20% annual revenue growth – as opposed to a 4% decline for the Laggards. And marketing helped to generate an average 47% of the forecasted sales pipeline in Best-in-Class organisations – compared to only 5% in the Laggards.
The urgent need for better alignment
It’s no wonder that “improving sales and marketing alignment” has been a declared priority for so many organisations in the past year – and surprising how few companies seem to have truly made a success of it.
Faced with a challenging economic climate, an increasingly competitive landscape, and growing scrutiny of marketing budgets and headcount in the run up to the 2011 planning process, we suggest that the need for sales and marketing alignment has never been so obvious – or so urgent.
A step-by-step approach to achieving alignment
Alignment will not happen by accident. It requires a conscious effort, goodwill, and executive commitment. But in the light of the figures we have just quoted, we would frankly be surprised if senior management in any organisation that was not yet “Best-in-Class” status could afford to ignore the issue.
We’ve like to suggest a handful of initiatives that have repeatedly proven to be absolutely fundamental to achieving sales and marketing alignment:
- Agree a common language between sales and marketing that, for example, clearly documents the characteristics of a “marketing qualified lead” and a “sales accepted opportunity”
- Developing and documenting “ideal prospect profiles” that can inform both marketing programmes and sales qualification activities
- Leveraging voice of the customer studies to establish what’s really on your prospect’s minds and conducting systematic win-loss analyses to identify the common characteristics of winning deals
- Creating a scalable, repeatable sales and marketing machine that sees marketing programmes and sales activities as component parts of a tightly integrated revenue cycle
- Establish common plans, metrics and reward systems that focus everybody’s attention on building pipeline value, facilitating the buying process, and growing revenue