Trying to bring sales and marketing teams into alignment has been a topic under discussion for more than a decade. Why is it so difficult? It really shouldn’t be. Perhaps now that prospects and customers are in the driver’s seat, sales and marketing can finally come together to become the pit crew that facilitates momentum for business growth.

Have you ever watched a NASCAR race? My favorite part is when the drivers pit to get tires, gas, and whatever tweaks their cars need to gain the speed and domination to win. The speed and precision of the pit crew are amazing. What each crew is responsible for accomplishing in about eight to ten seconds relies on perfect harmony and synchronization of skill sets.

The only way a pit crew succeeds is through stellar communication and being measured on the same outcome—getting their car and driver back on the track in a better position or with greater potential than when he pitted.

Sales and Marketing Need to Get on the Same Page

If you read the massive amount of research floating around about sales and marketing alignment, you’ll see the same challenges stated repeatedly:

  • Lack of communication
  • Measured on different goals and KPIs
  • Limited visibility, collaboration, and feedback
  • Discordant perspectives about ideal customers

The Same Page should not be some deserted bar in the middle of Death Valley. The same page should be like Pit Row at the racetrack—a rallying point where sales and marketing teams collaborate and work together toward the same goal to drive business growth.

Yet, InsideView’s 2018 State of Sales and Marketing Alignment report finds:

  • Sales says marketing spends most of their time on branding and events (61%) and doesn’t measure anything important (29%).
  • Marketing says salespeople are single-celled organisms that chase revenue (34%) and doesn’t listen (33%).
  • About one fourth from each side says they can do a better job in the other role than the people in that role.

The Payoffs of Improved Sales and Marketing Alignment

Research from LinkedIn and JoinTheDots found the following payoffs reported by companies with sales and marketing teams working in close alignment:

  • 58% Customer Retention
  • 58% Better Efficiency
  • 54% Financial Performance
  • 52% Productivity

The research also found that 70% of respondents said sales and marketing collaboration delivers a better customer buying experience.

Why You Need a Pit Crew for Customer Experience

Silos are the leading cause of dysfunction in companies, in my opinion. The lack of coordination, cooperation, collaboration, and consistency holds them back from winning the race against their competition. Sales and marketing teams working at odds creates a lot of issues, not the least of which is brand fragmentation and mixed messages that end up confusing and frustrating customers.

Customers don’t care if they’re interacting with sales or marketing; they care about the value of the experience—at whatever stage of the buying process they’re in.

Both marketers and salespeople are measured on revenue impact and pipeline, among other things. Recurring revenue models mean customer acquisition is as important as retention and expansion goals. The field for engagement is the lifecycle, not a person’s state at a moment in time as a lead or an opportunity or a customer.

That myth that buyers only want to talk to vendors after they’re two-thirds of the way through their buying process has finally been debunked with this finding from Rain Group:

71% of buyers want to speak to sellers during the early stages of the buying process.

We know that the buying process is no longer linear for our buyers. This also means it’s not linear for marketing-to-sales processes. The only way forward is to figure out how marketing and sales teams can work fluidly within the customer’s experience, regardless of where in the lifecycle an interaction may occur. This means they need to be as in sync as those NASCAR pit crews to pull it off.

ABM is the Qualifying Race for Sales and Marketing Alignment

Account-Based Marketing (ABM), by its very nature, requires sales and marketing to work together. The structure of ABM solves the challenges keeping sales and marketing from alignment.

  • Communication becomes mandatory, from selecting target accounts to defining strategies, and plays into extending the reach and building engagement and intent within those accounts.
  • KPIs are joined up for marketing and sales teams as the end goal is closing the accounts on the list. Both teams share accountability for executing the strategy and execution that contributes to this outcome.
  • Visibility is established across all target accounts, enabling collaboration to assess what’s building momentum and how to overcome obstacles encountered. And throughout all of this, each side shares feedback that helps all members of the team improve coordination and consistency.
  • Agreement is reached about ideal customer profiles and how to pursue them with a joint effort.

Once sales and marketing have adopted the habits of working together with the coordination of a pit crew, they can extend this mindset to broader initiatives to drive business growth where both sides are actively demonstrating a contribution to business objectives.

Your customer is pulling into Pit Row. Go!

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the latest news, tips, and tricks in B2B marketing.

Ardath Albee

About Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions. She’s written two books, the latest is Digital Relevance: Developing Content and Strategies That Drive Results. Ardath helps B2B companies with complex sales use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Follow her on Twitter at @ardath421.