Sales and Marketing Alignment in 3 Simple Steps


The challenges between sales and marketing are clear. Sales thinks that marketing departments do not deliver enough leads and burn budget that could be used for more feet on the street. Marketing thinks that the sales team can’t execute on a brand vision, and often takes the path of least resistance to quickly close a sale. Sales thinks that marketing departments are out of touch with what is happening in the field, as they have never “sold.” Marketing thinks the sales team is myopic and not really in touch with the changing word of customer engagement.

The truth is, these are only a few of the reasons why B2B sales and marketing departments are not on the same page. But given the nature of change in both areas, future success depends on sales and marketing working together.

There are many ways to accomplish sales and marketing alignment - two traditionally divergent groups. Let’s review three pivotal steps.


Step 1. Agree on common metrics

The bottom line is always the bottom line. Gather marketing and sales together as a group and determine your primary revenue goal.

Then, ask marketing which metrics they feel are most important to reach that goal. Ask sales to listen. Marketing will talk about more than just leads. They will talk about the sales funnel, and the ways marketing can make selling easier through customer interactions that don’t include in-person presentations. Marketing will add value. Believe it.

Next, ask sales to map out a typical sales interaction. How long does it take to close a customer? What are the steps and the nuances of the negotiation process? How is information delivered to a prospect during sales? Ask marketing to listen carefully. Sales will help you understand the customer journey (more on that later) and will certainly add value. Count on it.

Find the five things you are going to measure that drive revenue. Not ten or twenty. Agree upon five things you’ll watch carefully as a group, and review them together every week.


Step 2. Define the customer journey

The value of your customer journey cannot be understated. Sales and marketing would be well served to review the entire journey, not simply the pieces which lead to a closed sale. For instance, every single customer or prospect interaction - from their first web visit to how you answer the phone - is a step in the customer journey. These are also opportunities for customer delight and differentiation.

Put sales and marketing together in a room and walk through the customer journey. You are likely to learn that your sales tactics cause you to reach out to your customers unexpectedly, or without their permission. And, you might find opportunities to deliver valuable information that you don’t provide when you should.

The idea is to walk in the shoes of your customer or prospect. Have sales and marketing identify where they can each add value. With sales and marketing working together to see the value of the customer journey, you turn everyone’s focus from the company to the customer.


Step 3. Align on technology

Technology has changed both sales and marketing. Each group has valuable tools, but they don’t always connect. To facilitate alignment, ask sales how they track contacts and interactions in their CRM. Look deeply into how leads get from marketing to sales and what the handoff looks like. Then, identify ways for common platforms to be shared with both groups to increase visibility. Look again at the customer journey and see what customer interactions might be created through technology.

Finally, spend some time evaluating your website. In many cases, your website is one of the first touch points in the customer journey. Ask marketing to explain why it is organized the way it is relative to the customer. Ask sales how they use the site to support their efforts – if at all. And determine next steps from there.

Better sales and marketing alignment facilitates better decision-making. It breaks down the traditional silos that have separated B2B marketing and sales departments. So, get on the same page. Share the same goals and the same vision. Market growth will remain elusive without it.