Which is why these 10 stats on the business impact of sales-marketing alignment are so jarring. We’ve said over and over again that sales and marketing don’t like each other, but the numbers tell the story in much more vivid, graphic, and compelling detail than we ever could with words alone.
The clear takeaway is this: B2B companies with a well-aligned go-to-market function grow their revenue, and companies with a poorly aligned go-to-market team don’t. For Sales Operations, whose job is to optimize the efficiency of the revenue acquisition process, that means alignment between departments has to be a primary focus.
So what can Sales Operations do to reconcile the two departments, and ensure that disagreements between them don’t hamper the company’s ability to generate revenue? By following these 4 steps.
1. Develop Complementary Goals
The root of most disagreements between sales and marketing is poorly defined goals. For most companies, marketing is judged purely on the number of leads it delivers, while sales is on the hook for delivering the bookings goals.
While fine in theory, in practice that goal definition leads the teams to butt heads. Marketing is incentivized to generate as many leads as possible, with no consideration for quality. This causes consternation on the sales team when reps have to spend a good chunk of their time sorting through and disqualifying bad leads, and they end up pointing the finger at marketing as the cause for missed numbers.
In an ideal world, both teams should be responsible for complementary results. That means tying both teams together to revenue generation in some way.
HubSpot’s Mark Roberge leveraged that approach in the early days of Hubspot’s growth by working backwards with CMO Mark Volpe to determine the number of leads that should be needed for sales to hit its number, and setting goals up from there. That ensures both teams are held responsible to the same end goal, and discourages marketing from sending names over simply to hit their quota.
On the flip side, this approach only works if marketing has a guarantee that the sales team will work the leads that do get sent over in a timely manner. That’s where an SLA comes in.
2. Create an SLA
An effective SLA (Service Level Agreement) is the cornerstone of sales-marketing alignment. This agreement serves to set rules of engagement for the two teams — it defines MQLs, forces sales to commit to call every lead sent over in a set period of time, and clarifies the process for handing leads off from marketing to sales.
Given that Sales Operations is tasked with streamlining revenue growth, they are in the perfect position to act as brokers to settle the details of an effective SLA. Their role is (or should be) purely to identify and eliminate inefficiencies in the sales process — which means that developing an effective SLA and enforcing it is written into their job description.
3. Streamline and Automate
Once the rules are in place and the two teams’ roles in generating and qualifying leads are well defined, the final step to developing an effective working relationship between the sales and marketing team is to streamline and automate the handoff.
Finding the right tools is another essential component of sales-marketing alignment — the right tool makes all the difference between leads that convert into opportunities and deals and leads that end up rotting in the CRM system for all eternity.
The core value of technology in aligning sales and marketing is its ability to save-time. The SLA resolves the root cause of misalignment (disputes over what constitutes quality leads and when to follow up), but problems still arise when one team or the other doesn’t have the bandwidth to meet the agreed upon terms.
Sales and marketing automation tools such as marketing automation and CRM integrations, lead scoring, and of course, analytics all have a massive impact on streamlining the movement of leads between sales and marketing, improve conversions and boost revenue.
Resolving conflicts between sales and marketing and putting solutions in place that will maintain an even flow of leads and opportunities is core to the Sales Ops function.
To accomplish that goal, Sales Ops has to move beyond report building to reconcile the business goals of two departments that are consistently at odds.