Sales and Marketing Alignment, Causes and Solutions

Alignment between sales and marketing departments has always been a challenging request for marketing and sales operations roles alike.   It’s almost as though sales and marketingalignment have been pitted against each other since the dawn of time…or at least business.  But I first think its important to clarify what sales and marketing alignment really refers to.  When an organization achieves alignment it means they are clearly able to discern the lead source, as well as understand what has happened to that lead.  Did it convert to a closed deal or instead was it disqualified?  This facilitates clear ownership and accountability between departments as to who is responsible for how leads are created, as well as what happens to them.

As such, an organization with poor alignment often has disagreement as to who was responsible for sourcing certain deals and therefore who should get credit.  There is often also a common disagreement in the quality of the leads being sent to the sales teams in the case that sales goals are not met.  After all, someone is to blame, right?  And management needs to identify whom is to blame so they can pinpoint the cause of the missed sales goals and correct in the coming quarters.  The fact of the matter is that without this insight it is impossible and therein lies the cause of this misalignment: a lack of clear visibility into our data in Salesforce.

So how do we correct this?  Well, our issues begin with a lack of campaign association.  While marketing generated campaign responses are often tagged automatically with the campaign source, campaign source on sales generated responses from our prospecting and networking efforts often go overlooked. As a result we have no insight into where the deal came from in the case that one of these sales generated leads converts to a closed deal.  Our first solution is to ensure that every single campaign response has a campaign associated to it.  In the case that prospecting efforts prove effective we need to ensure that these have some sort of “sales prospecting campaign” associated to them…so that sales can get credit for sourcing that deal at the end of the quarter.

Another, common cause of misalignment is a lack of visibility into why leads are being disqualified. This breeds more finger pointing as to whether these DQed leads are a function of poor lead quality (marketing) or instead poor sales follow up or selling (sales…obviously).  If as part of our sales process we do not capture the reason we send a lead back to marketing then we have no optics into the root cause.  As a result, we must revert back to sales process and ask that our sales people have a method to capture a disqualification reason in Salesforce.

As you may have noticed a common trend to solving this issue of misalignment is implementing a better process for our sales people to capture those key data points discussed above, but this still doesn’t solve our issues completely.  We also need a system of checks and balances to offer some additional insight.   Metrics like funnel velocity, lead aging, and SLA tracking ensure that our sales people are not letting good leads go stale, while conversion rates can help us identify where bottlenecks exist in the funnel.  Finally, our Salesforce database is transparent and transparency yields alignment.

Jay Jennison

About Jay Jennison

Jay works as a Corporate Accounts manager at Full Circle Insights and previously worked within the corporate sales division at Salesforce.com. He attended Duke University for his undergraduate and graduate degrees where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in History and Markets and Management and focused the subject of his Master’s thesis on developmental strategy for third-world economies.