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Position Your Company for Success: Align Sales and Marketing

For the last several years, almost every conversation about marketing, sales or revenue growth includes the alignment of sales and marketing. In fact, the CMO Council recently put sales and marketing alignment just behind digital makeovers as top priorities for 2011. This is not a new issue. It continues to draw attention, but evades resolution. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that best-in-class companies are making strides—reporting increases of more than 28% in revenue since aligning their marketing and sales forces. Bringing these two disciplines together for success is not easy, but it’s not impossible either.

Sales and Marketing

Marketing has traditionally owned the broader customer relationship, with sales entering the picture to close deals. But in today’s market, marketing is responsible for the initial prospect relationship up until sales engages with a limited, small subset of information. Marketing then continues to support sales engagement with websites, branding, content, search and other campaigns, which touch the prospect. This lack of alignment and fragmentation will not produce the real results demanded in today’s marketplace.

Sales + Marketing

Sales and marketing need to work hand in hand, not side by side. These two teams must work together, coordinating all of the steps—from initial planning and first contact to sales and customer advocacy. Marketing resources should focus on building awareness and generating demand to get sales to the best, most qualified opportunities. Sales teams will be more efficient and effective with better customer understanding, more time spent on productive targeting, relationship building and selling to leads in the best position to buy.

Key areas for alignment include customer segmentation, go-to-market planning, sales enablement and lead generation, including lead definition, qualification, scoring and nurturing. But before alignment can begin, a common set of goals, agreement on a go-to-market strategy, clear definition of roles and responsibilities and criteria for measurement are imperative.

These strategic planning steps require attention, true collaboration and shared passion for success. Couple these with technology, strategic alignment and common understanding and you’ll assure greater efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.

Aligning Success

The expectations for revenue growth and increased profits in an increasingly competitive environment continue to challenge both sales and marketing. Costs to achieve each dollar of revenue are increasing. Buyers are more sophisticated in terms of how and where they access information, and how that information is used to influence and drive the decision-making process. The customer buying cycle, as opposed to the sales cycle, is driving both sales and marketing activities. Marketers must be held responsible for their contribution to revenue and both sales and marketing must put the customer at the center of their efforts.

For more information about marketing automation, please contact Keith Schofield-Broadbent.