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Why Revenue Can't Scale Without Sales and Marketing Alignment

Paralee Walls June 14 2022
Why Revenue Can't Scale Without Sales and Marketing Alignment by Paralee Walls, Fractional CRO at House of Revenue

Inefficient lead generation tactics don’t just overload salespeople with bad leads — they actively prevent revenue scale. In traditional marketing and sales pipelines, marketing teams collect leads and simply hand them over to sales teams without much filtering, sorting, or qualifying.

In fact, most B2B marketers send all of their leads straight to sales teams, with only 27% of them being qualified. When that happens, salespeople spend their time engaging with uninterested leads, prospecting, and drowning in a sea of leads that simply aren't ready to buy. 

The result? Many sales reps simply ignore leads generated by marketing.

Are you starting to see the problem here? Marketing teams that just gather leads and contact details before dropping them off with a sales rep are bad for business. Sales teams that ignore marketing-qualified leads are equally bad for business.

There's where “smarketing” (I know, it’s an obnoxious word, but it is what we’re talking ‘bout here) comes into play: a more aligned workflow between sales and marketing teams that results in a higher percentage of qualified leads and less time wasted. Keep reading to see how you can achieve sales and marketing alignment once and for all.

It Starts With Measurement

You can't improve business processes when you don't know where you're starting from. Before you begin implementing new workflow changes or figuring out how to better align your teams, gain a full picture of the situation with an internal audit.

Most people will groan as soon as they hear the word “audit,” but a solid deep dive into your existing data, workflows, content, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), etc. can help you start from a series of objective truths and start making real strides in the right direction. By cleaning up your data and identifying key metrics, you can identify:

  • What marketing is doing right and wrong
  • What sales is doing right and wrong
  • The whitespace: the space where the needs of customers or employees aren't being met, where you can break new ground on process improvements or operations

If your teams don't currently use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Key Account Management (KAM) software that can track leads, opportunities, and sales, this audit will starkly reveal where your tech stack is also interfering with scalability.

As part of your efforts, establish clear KPIs. Since your goal is scaling revenue, all of the KPIs you set as part of this project should tie to revenue. However, how you can use revenue to measure marketing performance will differ from how you evaluate sales performance:

  • For revenue-based marketing KPIs: 
    • Don't just measure by pure revenue. That incentivizes marketers to throw every single lead at the sales team and see what sticks. Instead, the KPIs should be ratios, such as the pipeline per Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) or pipeline per opportunity created.
    • With these more refined metrics, bad leads water down their totals, incentivizing stronger Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) practices. There are different ways of putting this into practice; first touch, last touch, and W-attribution models all impart slightly different results, so you'll need to choose the best fit for your business.
  • For revenue-based sales KPIs: 
    • Again, measuring just pipeline and revenue is insufficient. Instead, assess how many leads from marketing contribute to the pipeline and what the general quality of those leads is.

At the start, your goal is to establish baseline numbers and uncover an objective view of your organization. Over time, the sales and marketing teams (potentially with the Chief Revenue Officer) can set goals for lead quality and develop a constantly improving balance of lead quality and lead quantity.

It Often Falls Apart at Messaging

Now that you have the numbers under control, it's time to focus on the words. Marketing teams reach out to consumers and prospects with a wide variety of messages that draw attention, entice shoppers, and convince consumers to become leads.

That's a very different process from how sales reps need to send messages to convert those leads to customers — and, unfortunately, those two separate goals can result in very contradictory messages that leave customers unhappy and the two teams at odds.

When sales reps start to interact with an MQL, there's often some conflict at the start: the lead may have a radically different understanding of a product or service based on the ads or promotional materials they saw. This can leave the sales rep in the hard position of toning down expectations and clarifying your product offerings while simultaneously trying to convert them.

But that misunderstanding leads to mistrust; the customer feels lied to, and the sale is lost — or at least delayed and certainly less happy.

The problem here isn't just conflicting incentives. It's conflicting understanding. After all, marketers operate in a silo of buyer journey insight, buyer personas, and marketing platforms. Their view of consumers is tied wholly into what converts them into leads. But what makes a great lead doesn't necessarily make a great buyer. Sales teams know what it takes to convert them through the next step, but not necessarily how to get their attention in the first place.

The best way to resolve this is to have strategic meetings to align messaging. Using the same phrasing, sharing insights, and ensuring everyone has the same understanding of a product or service's potential for ideal customers can help smooth out the pipeline. During these planning days, marketing and sales should collaborate and align on:

  • SWOT analysis for existing and ideal accounts
  • Value matrices and value propositions
  • Both Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) and personas: ICPs may be the target clients, but individual personas will represent the key actors and contacts within those ICPs

GTM Strategy Done Right

Now that the numbers and messaging are aligned, work on workflows. The execution can still go wrong as you experiment with different alignment strategies. We recommend these four practices to keep your execution on track:

  1. Quarterly marketing and sales meetings: At these joint meetings, you can discuss what's working and what isn't, whitespace that's worth exploring, and more. We also recommend having each team explain what they would do if they were in total control. This fun hypothetical can help the other side understand friction points.
  2. Annual meetings to go over the past year's progress and future goals
  3. A living document full of "great ideas" that representatives from both teams can discuss, explore the value in, and consider routes for implementation
  4. Generate a GTM deliverable that covers who, what, when, and where requirements after every meeting

Operations: The Forgotten Foundation

Big picture alignment can help your teams understand each other. But your tech stack really decides if your teams can work together. Both marketing and sales need to operate from shared tools that create a single source of truth.

This shared space allows sales to see marketing efforts, marketing to see pipelines and Sales Qualified Leads, and more. Similarly, both teams should be able to review the other's communications with customers, including sales calls and Voice of Customer calls.

Start Generating Higher Revenue & Retaining More Accounts

Without investing time and effort into alignment, your company won't be able to scale effectively. Your sales team will drown in poorly vetted leads, and your marketing team won't know what leads to look for. With inefficient, older processes, 75% of B2B marketing-generated leads simply don't close. But by focusing on a shared revenue strategy, your company can see:

  • 32% higher revenue
  • 36% higher customer retention
  • 38% higher win rates

At House of Revenue, we're here to help you create a stronger revenue strategy so you can scale your business. We work with businesses from SaaS and services to manufacturing and distribution. Contact us today to get started.