How To Achieve Better Marketing and Sales Alignment: Step 2

    March 31, 2015

    How to achieve better marketing and sales alignment - step 2

    In part 1 of How to Achieve Better Marketing and Sales Alignment, we focused on the critical role communication plays in helping sales and marketing teams achieve better alignment. While communication is the foundation for any successful relationship, setting realistic expectations is also important. For example, when marketers generate leads, they pat themselves on the back and send them to sales for follow up. However, if sales doesn’t believe that marketing’s leads are valuable, they might not follow up on them right away, or ever. Marketing then feels like the sales team is not doing its job. The cycle continues and the relationship between sales and marketing deteriorates.

    Setting clear goals and expectations, and recording them in a written Service Level Agreement (SLA), helps sales and marketing work together in a more harmonious manner and holds everyone accountable for results.

    1. Set Sales Expectations

    Sales teams are already measured against quotas and goals. However, setting the right expectations for sales is less about how many deals they close and more about the steps they take to get there, a process that can vary dramatically from one salesperson to another. The key is to systematize the process so that potential deals don’t fall through the cracks, yielding more consistent results.

    Before you can start building a formula for your sales team, you need to understand the current state with regards to: timeline from initial contact to close, number of communication attempts, type of communication attempts, etc. After you have identified these patterns you can begin crafting an accountability formula that defines things like number of touches, cadence and the optimal communications and channels. It should look something like this:

    1. Within 10 minutes, call the prospect. If no answer, leave a voicemail. 
    2. After hanging up, send follow-up email X.
    3. Schedule next day follow-up call.
    4. Send follow up email including information X.
    5. After two days, call again. 
    6. After three days, send follow-up email X. 
    7. After five days, call again.
    8. Etc.

    If at any point in this process the salesperson connects with the prospect, you should have another outline for the steps to make once contact has been made. Include email templates loaded with valuable content that can be appropriately customized for maximum relevance.

    2. Set Marketing Expectations

    Just because a salesperson contacts a lead right away doesn’t mean the lead is ready to buy. On the contrary, most of the time new leads need a bit of nurturing before they are ready to be turned over to sales. Understanding this distinction is critical when setting expectations with marketing. Analyze your sales process and dig into past sales metrics. You need to find the following:

    • Average deal size
    • Average sales cycle
    • Average Lead closing percentage
    • Total sales revenue goal
    • Percent of revenue from marketing leads

    Before establishing marketing goals directly tied to revenue, make sure you have an established process for when a lead is ready to be turned over to the sales team. Without this process, your numbers will be skewed either because you sent too many leads that were not ready, or held back leads for too long that should have been passed to the sales team sooner. Once this is done however, use the following calculations to set up your marketing goals:

    • Total sales revenue goal * percent of revenue from marketing leads = Marketing revenue goal
    • Marketing revenue goal / average deal size = # of customers needed
    • Customers / average lead closing percentage = # of leads needed
    3. Hold the Two Accountable

    Once you have established your formulas and goals, conduct regular reporting and analysis and hold each team accountable to the results. Track cumulatively on a daily basis to determine how close you are to hitting your monthly goal on any given day.

    With all the above steps in place, the final critical component is to hold monthly accountability meetings to discuss the results, reanalyze the process, and take steps toward improvement. By having a clear process for determining what is expected of both marketing and sales you can more easily hold each side accountable to the results and take steps to improve the entire process.

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    Sharon Gillenwater

    About the Author

    Sharon Gillenwater

    Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.