The Unfinished Business of Marketing-Sales Alignment


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A little over six years ago, I published a blog post that discussed the need for a more collaborative relationship between marketing and sales. Since 2010, I’ve written about various aspects of marketing-sales alignment 22 times.

I certainly wasn’t the first person to discuss the disconnect that frequently exists between marketing and sales or the need for better marketing-sales alignment. For example, the July-August 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review contained an article by Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnasvamy titled “Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing.”

For at least the past decade, both B2B marketing and sales professionals have recognized the importance of forging a closer relationship between marketing and sales. Over the past ten years, many B2B companies have made marketing-sales alignment an important business priority, and some companies have made significant progress in improving the quality of this critical relationship.

Despite the gains, however, two research studies from earlier this year clearly show that marketing-sales alignment is still a work-in-progress for many companies.

The CallidusCloud Research

The 2016 Sales and Marketing Sentiment Study by CallidusCloud was based on a survey of B2B marketing and sales professionals that produced 227 responses. The responses were nearly evenly split between marketers and sales pros. Sixty-two percent of the respondents were based in North America, and 22.7% were based in Europe.

Over two-thirds of the respondents (67.1%) said their company’s sales and marketing teams are fully or somewhat aligned. In the 2015 edition of this survey, 71.9% of respondents reported full or partial alignment.

This research also found that both marketers and sales pros are less satisfied with their counterpart’s performance in 2016 than they were in 2015. CallidusCloud asked survey participants this question:  “How satisfied are you in the performance of marketing (if you’re in sales) or of sales (if you’re in marketing)?” In 2016, 26.7% of all respondents said very satisfied or satisfied, down from 38.7% of respondents in 2015.

The CallidusCloud research pointed to several factors that may be making alignment more difficult to achieve. For example:

  • Only 29.8% of respondents said that lead data is fully shared between sales and marketing.
  • 41.9% of respondents said their company uses separate technology solutions to manage marketing and sales. Only 28.3% said their company uses a single integrated technology solution.
The Marketing Advisory Network Research

The 2016 B2B Sales & Marketing Collaboration Study by The Marketing Advisory Network was based on a survey of business, marketing, and sales professionals that produced 123 responses. More than 95% of the respondents were with B2B or hybrid B2B/B2C companies. This study also found several areas of “misalignment” between marketing and sales. For example:
  • 50% of sales respondents (but less than 20% of marketing respondents) said that sales follows up with 95% or more of the leads supplied by marketing.
  • Over 50% of sales respondents (but less than 20% of marketing respondents) said that sales reps regularly use virtually all of the sales assets and tools that their company makes available.

One reason that many companies are still struggling with marketing-sales alignment is that the two functions are still managed separately. I’ve long argued that optimizing demand generation in today’s business environment requires the integration of marketing and sales for operational management and planning purposes. For an in-depth discussion of why such integration is needed, take a look at my earlier post titled Why Marketing-Sales “Alignment” Is No Longer Enough.
Image courtesy of Steven Guzzardi via Flickr CC.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Dodd
David Dodd is a B2B business and marketing strategist, author, and marketing content developer. He works with companies to develop and implement marketing strategies and programs that use compelling content to convert prospects into buyers.


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