How to align your sales and marketing teams

Posted by Darren Leishman

Smarketing might sound like a silly portmanteau, but aligning your sales and marketing strategy is critical to your bottom line.

It’s no secret that sales and marketing teams regularly operate on completely different wavelengths. Not only do they seem to speak two different languages, but it’s quite common for the two sides to be clueless on the efforts of the other team; from the effort required to capture leads, and then the work to convert these leads into sales (although many businesses are not aware of this clash between departments).

You’ll find sales blaming marketing for handing them poor-quality leads and marketing accusing sales of letting their leads go cold - this finger pointing only leads to unhappiness in both camps.

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Did you know…

  • According to HubSpot, 87% of terms sales and marketing use to describe each other are negative.
  • Businesses that have a strong alignment between sales and marketing achieve up to 20% annual revenue growth year on year.
  • Only 45% of businesses have a clear, unified definition of an Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

Global marketing intelligence organisation, IDC, performed research on the misalignment of sales and marketing and found that businesses lost a shocking ten percent of revenue each year as a result of this internal sibling rivalry. That’s why it’s imperative for every organisation to ensure their sales and marketing strategies are aligned and that both teams are working closely together to generate and follow up on leads.


There are three main benefits to aligning your sales and marketing goals and targets to achieve buy in from both teams:

  • A smarketing strategy is customer centric. By aligning your sales and marketing, your teams will spend less time arguing over who did (or didn’t) do what, and focus their time and energy on satisfying your customers.
  • You can create hyper targeted marketing content. When your sales team is actively providing marketing with feedback from customers, your marketing team will be able to create content that is relevant, helpful and interesting to potential buyers. This will help bring in more leads for the sales team, and your smarketing process will turn itself into a well oiled lead generating machine - it’s a win-win.
  • A unified, negotiated definition of MQLs and SQLs will shorten the time between lead generation and closing deals.
The most important added benefit to aligning your sales and marketing strategies is that you’ll see an increase in your ROI. There’s no doubt that a happy and productive smarketing team will ensure happy customers and a profitable bottom line.

In order to determine whether your sales and marketing strategies are aligned, you’ll need to perform some internal research. The easiest way to do this is to ask your sales and marketing teams to fill out a survey which, based on their responses, will show you where the two strategies are aligned and which areas are misaligned and need to be worked on.

As a guide to creating your internal survey:

  1. Do our sales and marketing team share the same definitions for SQLs?
  2. Do our sales and marketing teams share the same vision of who the ideal customers are (buyer personas)?
  3. Does the sales team provide marketing with feedback on the quality of leads they receive?
  4. Are both teams aware of- and give input on demographic qualification factors?
  5. Does marketing understand how their work impacts sales?
  6. Does sales alert marketing when they’re receiving poor-quality leads?
  7. Can both teams accurately describe your business’ core products and services - and are these descriptions the same?
  8. Can both teams identify customers’ key pain points and define how your company can provide solutions to these problems as well as offering added value? Do they understand the customer's’ needs?

If you can answer yes to all eight of these questions, your sales and marketing strategies are aligned. If you answer no to any (or all) of these questions, then you’ll know which areas are weak or poorly aligned, and you’ll be able to start focusing your efforts on bringing these areas of your strategy into alignment.

Read about 5 quick tips on aligning Marketing and Sales

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