Sales and marketing often interact like an old couple—bickering, yet inseparable. They need each other to achieve optimal results, but despite the clear benefits of collaboration, misalignment between these two crucial functions persists in 2024.

Why is this still an issue?

Why sales and marketing alignment matters for revenue generation

Historically, sales and marketing have worked in “silos”, meaning they were segmented from one another.

Marketing would manage the top of the funnel, while sales would handle the bottom. Once a lead was ready for sales, it was handed off and, in many cases, would never hear from marketing again.

The importance of sales and marketing alignment is stressed now more than ever. It was reported as the number one priority for sales leaders in 2023. The reason is clear: A recent Gartner study found that:

Sales organizations that align cross-functional KPIs are nearly 3 times more likely to exceed new customer acquisition targets.

Conversely, misalignment leads to missed opportunities, wasted resources, and ultimately, a negative impact on revenue.

Why is there ongoing misalignment between sales and marketing?

1) Different languages: Marketing and Sales often don't speak the same language. Marketing talks about brand awareness and engagement metrics, while Sales focuses on closing deals and revenue.

2) Skill set divergence: Marketers excel in creativity and long-term strategy, while salespeople thrive on relationship-building and immediate results.

3) Temporal misalignment: Marketing plans for quarters and years ahead, while Sales targets monthly and quarterly quotas.

4) Tool discrepancies: Each team uses distinct tools, from CRM systems to marketing automation platforms, leading to data silos.

5) Different goals: The Gartner study revealed that the majority of sales organizations actually face challenges with unifying their commercial strategies.

For example, 62% of respondents describe their sales and marketing functions as defining qualified leads differently. This often leads to inefficient and ineffective customer engagement. 

Marketing aims to generate leads and build brand presence, whereas sales aims to convert leads into customers.

6) Siloed operations: They're often treated as separate entities, with a "high handover wall" where leads are passed from marketing to sales without ongoing collaboration.

Driving revenue through marketing and sales alignment
In this article, I’ll break down the main reasons marketing and sales are often misaligned, the focus areas CMOs need to pay the most attention to achieve alignment, and my five tried-and-tested strategies that drive sales and marketing alignment.

Actionable strategies to fix misalignment

1) Unified KPIs: Align Key Performance Indicators so that marketing is measured not by vanity metrics but by sales-qualified leads and accepted opportunities. This creates a shared sense of purpose.

Here’s how shared goals can unite both teams:

Both departments collaborate to define what constitutes a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) and a sales-qualified lead (SQL).

Leaders from both teams agree on a lead score threshold that determines when a lead should be handed off from marketing to sales. Leads below this score should remain with marketing for further nurturing campaigns.

Aligning on common metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive revenue growth, such as revenue attribution, ensures both teams are working towards the same goals.

Emphasizing quality over quantity by making SQLs the main performance indicator encourages the marketing team to focus on the quality of MQLs. This approach helps build a healthier sales pipeline and supports long-term revenue growth.

2) Sales incentive insights: Marketing should understand the sales incentive structure. Knowing what motivates the sales team helps tailor marketing strategies that resonate with their needs.

3) Collaborative planning: Instead of pointing fingers, plan goals and campaigns together. Joint planning fosters a sense of ownership and accountability.

4) Fact-based decisions: Replace opinions with data-driven decisions. Ask, "What does the data say? What do customers say?" This approach grounds strategies in reality.

5) Data-driven strategies: Use integrated tools that both teams can access, ensuring transparency and a unified view of the customer journey.

6) Regular feedback sessions: Establish regular meetings where both teams can share insights, successes, and challenges. This keeps communication lines open and fosters mutual respect.

In addition to meetings, enhance communication by using centralized company channels like Slack and email. This allows both teams to communicate regularly, collaborate effortlessly, track each other’s project progress, and share interesting information and ideas.

You can also organize company events, lunches, and informal activities to improve team connection. Ultimately you want both teams to communicate honestly and have an open feedback loop.

Let's embrace Smarketing

Sales and marketing alignment, also known as "smarketing," integrates workflows, goals, KPIs, messaging, and overall strategy between the two teams. When these departments collaborate effectively, it creates a seamless customer journey, enhances sales and marketing ROI, and drives higher revenue.

Sales can provide valuable customer insights to inform marketing campaigns. Conversely, marketing can develop content to educate prospects, nurture leads through the early stages of the buying process, and qualify them.

As a marketing leader with experience in multiple B2B international companies, I have had the privilege of collaborating with exceptional sales professionals who appreciate the value of this partnership. Their willingness to integrate with marketing strategies has significantly enhanced our mutual success.

 By fostering a culture of collaboration, shared goals, and data-driven decisions, we can bridge the gap between marketing and sales. Together, these teams can drive remarkable growth and innovation, proving that they are indeed better together.