Why is B2B sales and marketing alignment important?

Sales and Marketing alignment isn’t a new topic in the B2B world. And yet, CSO Insights research shows that while it’s a goal for many companies, the reality is that it’s rare. HubSpot indicated that just 26% of respondents operate under a marketing and sales SLA.

“Only 39% of companies strongly agree/agree that such alignment exists in their organizations.” CSO Insights

This is also supported by CSO Insight’s Sales Optimization survey that named product development and marketing as the two functions that needed either improvement or major design with respect to collaboration with sales enablement.

So if companies aren’t doing it, is it really a big deal? Yes! There are major benefits from aligning sales and marketing. B2B customers are getting more complex. The marketing funnel of yesteryear is no longer relevant.

“From a customer’s perspective, there is no “hand-off” from marketing to sales or digital to in-person. And companies will need to rapidly adapt to better align to customers’ channel-agnostic, nonlinear buying behavior.”

Brent Adamson, Gartner

Sales and Marketing Alignment Defined

First, what’s the definition of sales and business marketing alignment. I found this definition by LinkedIn to be on point.

“Alignment between sales and marketing included developing strategy together, sharing goals (up to and including revenue), agreeing on lead definitions and the hand-off of prospects between marketing and sales, and aligning on measurement and even compensation.”


Benefits of Sales and Marketing Alignment

There are numerous benefits of alignment. Here are six important ones:

  • Lay a foundation for ABM
  • Create the basis for Sales Enablement
  • More effective inbound marketing
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Increased revenue
  • Increased margins and growth

Sales and Marketing Alignment: Words from the Experts

ABM and Sales Enablement are big trends and both of them require strong alignment between sales and marketing team and agreement on the buyer’s persona and goals.

“ABM isn’t just a more-focused demand generation or prospecting program. It requires a cultural shift, especially among sales and marketing staff.” Todd Berkowitz, Gartner

“B2B organizations that have aligned sales and marketing functions not only see better business results, but can captivate audiences with elevated buying experiences reinforced by shared data.” LinkedIn

“Especially in B-to-B companies, sales and marketing alignment shortens the sales cycle and links ROI directly to marketing materials, says Jeremy Boudinet, director of marketing for sales software company Ambition. ‘The more that sales and marketing are on the same page, the easier it will be to close your sales cycles,’ he says. ‘Sales cycles are much shorter when that [marketing] content is ready.’” AMA

“Organizations with good alignment not only achieve 27% faster three-year profit growth, they also close 38% more deals. Businesses with effective Sales and Marketing alignment achieved 208% higher marketing revenue than organizations with disjointed teams.” HubSpot

Teams with SLAs see higher ROI from inbound marketing – HubSpot

SLAs means growth: Sales teams more likely to grow when there’s an SLA – HubSpot

A joint Marketo and Reachforce research piece found that businesses are 67% better at closing deals when sales and marketing work together.

Misalignment Can Be Harmful

In fact, misalignment can actually be harmful. According to HubSpot, misalignment between sales and marketing technologies and processes costs B2B companies 10% of revenue or more per year.

Or look at it this way: “decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts due to misalignment costs a whopping $1 trillion a year.” HubSpot

Where to Start with Alignment

It doesn’t take a major revolution or reorg to start on the road to alignment. In fact, it’s healthier and more productive that the organizations report to different (though peer) leaders. In our experience, merging sales and marketing under a single leader is not necessary or recommended for alignment.Start with a service level agreement (SLA) that has at its core the mutually agreed upon definition for leads (MQL) and how to nurture them, as well as the SQL for sales qualified leads. Shared technology platforms for enablement can be helpful but to start, this is first and foremost about definitions and process.

Jill Rowley sums it up well: “The new reality is that sales and marketing are continuously and increasingly integrated. Marketing needs to know more about sales, and sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.”

Jill Rowley, Former Chief Growth Advisor at Marketo, LinkedIn Top Voices 2018

About the Author: Kathleen Glass is a strategic advisor for Wyecomm, a Stagwell Company, and founder and CEO of Oinkodomeo, a B2B sales and digital marketing agency, and Advisory Board Member for the Global Association of Inside Sales Professionals. Follow on Twitter @KathleenGlass or connect on LinkedIn.