The fact that there is tension and conflict between many sales and marketing teams is old news. Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson wrote about the Rift Between Sales and Marketing in a 2011 Harvard Business Review article. Countless blogs and articles quote an aging Corporate Executive Board Survey, which highlights that 87% of the terms sales & marketing use to describe each other are negative.
But if this unhealthy relationship has been so well-publicized for so long, why are we still talking about it? Why haven’t business leaders been more effective at addressing the problem? Why do sales and marketing teams still struggle to work together effectively? They need to align their sales and marketing goals in order to grow revenue.
Sales And Marketing Face Different Challenges
HubSpot’s State of Inbound report provides important insights about the different challenges sales and marketing teams face. The 2015 report highlights:
- Sales – improving efficiency of the sales funnel
- Marketing – proving ROI
- Sales – closing more deals
- Marketing – increase and convert more leads
Did you notice how different aspects of the sales funnel represented a challenge for sales versus a priority for marketing? They may not share the same challenges and priorities, but sales and marketing exist for the same reason. They are part of the same team. If they aren’t functioning like a single team, your revenue will suffer.
Improving Communication Isn’t Enough
I once worked for a manager who put in place weekly cross-functional team meetings. He was hoping improved communication would be enough to bridge the rift between sales and marketing. However the teams had different goals and priorities. Literally. Each team had different metrics. Many of our goals were competing and mutually-exclusive.
While it may not always be so extreme, this lack of goal alignment is somewhat common. It has serious and negative implications across the organization. Marketing teams won’t be effective at creating traffic, generating leads and converting leads if they are pulled in too many directions. Without the right marketing support, sales teams will struggle to prospect and close. Both teams will be discouraged by the dysfunction.
Align Sales And Marketing Goals To Grow Revenue
Despite their differences, it is possible for sales and marketing to have a great working relationship. With the right leadership, these teams will be aligned around a common set of goals to grow revenue. Goal alignment boils down to goal clarity and role clarity.
Steps to align goals:
- Identify the single common goal. Both teams are here to grow revenue – profitably. Simply identify target growth across the organization. Make the target specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound.
- Marketing owns the top of the sales funnel. Inbound and outbound marketing should drive traffic, generate and nurture leads. Marketing should commit to total number of leads as well as number of sales-ready, quality leads.
- Sales owns the bottom of the sales funnel. Sales should commit to following up on a specific number of leads within a specific time frame. Sales should also commit to conversion goals.
Each team is working toward the same overall goal and it’s clear how each will contribute. Of course several other aspects need to be addressed for strong alignment between sales and marketing. I’ll cover those in a future post. However, the first step toward closing the rift and growing revenue is creating alignment. If you don’t align sales and marketing goals, your teams will be speaking different languages and you won’t get the results you want.
What steps have you taken to align sales and marketing goals? Have you scheduled one-on-one and team meetings hoping that would be enough? If you really want to close the rift and grow revenue, focus on goal alignment first.