Sales Alignment – An Essential Link to Build Marketing Credibility


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Valuable growth comes when you engage with people who do not think like you and are governed by a different set of assumptions that you are. For marketers, those people are often the people who actually sell the things you market — namely Sales.

Sales is at the same time terribly simply and extremely difficult. The sales team is governed by a few core metrics — usually some combination of revenue and margin growth, with a little product focus thrown in on the side. The challenge is to find common ground with customers and prospects, overcoming their objections and building relationships that will provide value to the customer and revenue to the salesperson. Building and maintaining a strong value proposition is not an easy task to accomplish.

Because of this single-minded focus on key metrics, Sales thinks differently from Marketing. Marketing has a broader set of governing metrics that can include longer-term customer profitability, successful product launches, customer retention, etc. When those metrics conflict with Sales metrics, Sales will end up winning 8 times out of 10, if not more.

So Sales buy-in to Marketing initiatives is not optional; it is mission-critical.

Unfortunately, there is a great disconnect between the two.

According to the Fournaise Group, on average Sales only converted 8% of the prospects provided by Marketing (across a range of industries). At that low a level, you can understand how Sales can feel that Marketing is just wasting their time. Marketing is not giving Sales enough “hot” prospects (those who are at the sales-ready stage instead of the engagement-ready stage). Marketing believes that Sales are wasting valuable leads and prospects when they do not engage with them fast enough or stay with them long enough.

The only way to get this problem solved is to have better Marketing and Sales alignment. To engage with Sales, Marketers must understand their views of the world (and their views on Marketing) and be able to address their interests and needs (particularly how they are measured and compensated). When they understand Sales, they can then tailor their marketing efforts to help meet Sales metrics as well as Marketing metrics — in many cases, understanding Sales priorities and time constraints lead Marketing to generate higher quality prospects.

How does Marketing engage with Sales and build a shared sense of purpose and greater understanding?

Best Marketers tend to follow several key strategies to gain alignment with their Sales counterparts. Follow these three approaches and you will quickly begin to reap the results:

1. Begin with the end in mind. Acknowledging in advance that your success depends on Sales buy-in and support will help you focus early on to build bridges with Sales “before you need to cross them.” Prioritizing Sales engagement in the planning phase of marketing programs will help align Marketing and Sales so both groups work as a team instead of separately. Once Marketing begins to understand Sales and how different their metrics are, Marketers can then evaluate and prioritize the leads to send over, increasing the value of those leads to Sales. The higher the value of the leads, the more likely Sales will pay attention and dedicate time to convert those leads into revenue.

2. Identify key allies in the Sales team. Once you have identified those you need to communicate with- go talk to them and don’t make excuses on why you shouldn’t. Understand their way of thinking and their way of using metrics. Once you have stepped into their shoes and have looked through their eyes, it will make sense on why and how the Sales team conducts themselves.

3. Develop an internal campaign to key Sales and executive consitituents to publicize the new camaraderie and shared goals, as well as progress towards success. Sharing the results and milestones will shed light on the enhanced relationship between Sales & Marketing, and may even be recognized throughout the company. If the Sales and Markerting team starts to align, why can’t the rest of the executives as well?

Marketing and Sales has a great disconnect that must be addressed. Marketing must take the initiative to give the two teams an opportunity to work together and fix the problem. Noone else will solve the problem. And the gap between Marketing and Sales damages Marketing prestige and credibility, not Sales.

Are you ready to take the first step that can change your relationship with Sales and the results of your programs?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Price
Mark Price is the managing partner and founder of LiftPoint Consulting (, a consulting firm that specializes in customer analysis and relationship marketing. He is responsible for leading client engagements, e-commerce and database marketing, and talent acquisition. Mark is also a RetailWire Brain Trust Panelist, a blogger at and a monthly contributor to the blog of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Marketing Association.


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