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Top 5 Tips For Sales & Marketing Alignment

[fa icon="clock-o"] Jun 27, 2016 1:36:44 PM [fa icon="user"] Jonah Story


I understand what both departments go through. Between having 20 years of professional sales in my background and presently running a full-funnel inbound marketing agency in Tampa, there isn’t much I haven’t experienced first-hand. However, after working with sales and marketing teams closely over the last 5 years, there is one thing that requires me to keep fundamentals at the forefront of my consulting: culture.

The culture of a company is the context for which sales and marketing teams exist and work together. The healthier the culture, the easier it is for the two teams to collaborate. Although we can’t unpack all of this here, we can discuss some of the fundamentals that apply in every culture, regardless of its level of health.

The big goal to keep your eye on is creating a true “smarketing” environment. Hubspot defines smarketing as the alignment between your sales and marketing teams through frequent and direct communication.

TIP 1: Clear lead hand-off

Lead handling between departments is most different depending on whether it’s a new or existing business lead. Both departments will interact with each lead, but clarification about responsibility for the lead must be clear. I recommend using the labels “MQL” and “SQL”: Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead. The marketing department is in charge of deepening the relationship with all MQLs until they become SQLs, at which point the hand-off takes place.

TIP 2: Individual & smarketing goals

Each department is focused on driving different metrics, or should be. Therefore, each has their own metric goals. More importantly, there should be some shared goals between the teams. One very important goal for both departments to rally around is the Client Lifetime Value. For a little CLV primer, check out this infographic by aria. It explains the concept, and shows how retention and satisfaction play into customer value.

TIP 3: Cross-training

At minimum, everyone must understand each other’s goals and basic operations. The context and insights to be gained here are invaluable. Additionally, once shared goals are agreed upon, the need for training will be even more important. When consulting companies on this issue, I always encourage marketers be trained in the fundamentals of sales and for sales teams to learn the importance of marketing in the sales process.

TIP 4: Monthly reviews

 Develop a regular time for both departments to share information. Report successes, and engage challenges. Smarketing goals are made together, and need consistent re-evaluation in order to identify opportunities for improvement. This should be bi-weekly or monthly at first, depending on the goals and pace.

TIP 5: Closed-Loop Reporting

This reporting is the very first and most critical system needing implemented between the teams. What is it? Closed-Loop Reporting is sharing up-to-date data between both departments through the use of a marketing software (like Hubspot) and CRM. Both are necessary for this to work.

Marketing → Sales

  • Complete lead intelligence: This provides historical data on the prospect’s interaction with your website, social media and campaigns, helping sales reps understand how to best interact with the lead.  
  • Lead alerts: These are email messages that notify the sales team when a lead is transitioning into a SQL or especially when requesting to speak with a salesperson.

Sales → Marketing

  • Contact touches: Records of email, call attempts or connects. This helps the marketing department understand how “warm” the lead was before being engaged by the sales team.  
  • Lead status updates: Updates on lead status, such as in-progress, qualified, unqualified or deal successfully closed.
  • Revenue numbers: Data on closed deals and the revenue associated with each contract to calculate marketing effectiveness and ROI.

By utilizing this system, you can track how each customer progressed through your marketing funnel and see which marketing programs are delivering the best ROI.

It’s normal to have challenges with bringing your sales and marketing teams together, but it’s incredibly worth the time to work through them.

Most of the issues revolve around each team misunderstanding how to value the other. There are of course other problems that might require the help of a professional, but you owe it to yourself (and bank account) to attempt the 5 tips I provided before throwing in the towel. If you have any questions on these tips, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly through Songbird’s contact us page. Reference this blog and I will get back to you quickly! 

Credits to Hubspot for some of the terrific information used here!


Jonah Story

Written by Jonah Story

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