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  • Giles House




When contemplating organizational change, many companies will find a common answer - sales and marketing aren’t aligning. This results in internal discord and the subsequent lagging of sales performance. Companies already know this; study after study has indicated the value of aligning sales and marketing. For example, the Mx Group found that this lack of alignment wastes up to 91% of marketing investment and around 50 percent of sales time. Conversely, businesses establishing a strong sales-marketing alignment report measurable increases in lead conversion 89.1 percent of the time and 24 percent-faster growth yield, along with a variety of other benefits.

Despite widespread knowledge of the problem, many companies still struggle with proper design and execution of the right solutions.

The problem can be diagnosed as a case of broken connections between systems and people. These are often an unintended casualty of a number of organizational changes made with the intent of improving (not harming) the company. The secret to re-aligning is to find the lost connections, fix them, and in doing so, build more connections wherever possible.

In the quest for realignment, teams can find success by reestablishing lost connections in the following 3 categories:

1. Technology Connections

In the cloud era, the ease of technology implementation means that specific problems can be tackled quickly, but it also means that the task of unifying that new technology and making sure it works with the rest of the sales and marketing stack may be postponed or ignored altogether. This can result in sales and marketing working from different and distinct solutions, which then results in sales and marketing having different versions of the truth about prospective customers. When the disappointing sales numbers are in, finger pointing ensues —and those pointing the fingers often feel the data support their assertion that the other side is wrong.

A disconnect with sales and marketing also only provides partial visibility into each prospect. When the sales team get leads from the marketing team, they have insufficient context about how the lead was cultivated and what led to it being passed to them. In return, a broken connection between sales and marketing means that unclosed leads may not get the attention they need to close in the future, or that the lead will be simply “DQ’ed” and never returned for nurturing.

How do you rebuild these connections? Make sure IT is involved in the selection and deployment of your sales/marketing tech stack, and make sure you can explain the route you want to lead data to take as it moves from marketing to sales and back to marketing. Eschew the quick fix that leads to long-term problems.

2. Human Connections

The parties involved can easily develop “us vs. them thinking,” especially when they’re under pressure from less-than-ideal performance. Many companies run the two departments entirely separately, and they give the two sides different goals and use different metrics to indicate success. This causes them to operate in ways that are increasingly out of sync, leading to more acrimony and damaging performance further.

Technology is generally simple to fix; people’s behaviors, especially when they’re driven by emotions, can get much more complicated. The secret is to maintain routine collaboration, starting with a summit on defining what a lead is and how leads should be qualified and scored. Marketers may hate this, but the sales department is closer to the reality of results. The two sides need to be in close communication on an ongoing basis. This should involve regular meetings and assessments of what has worked and what has not, so that the two sides change together to win more deals instead of lurching forward out of step, which ultimately damages results.

Human Connections Inadvertently Broken by Technology

This type of broken connection inspires the most insidious path to damaging misalignment: human connections are altered not by conscious decisions but by things hidden within the technology. An example might be an update to a marketing application that happens automatically via the cloud but which cuts the connection with an associated system. This then reduces visibility for sales and prevents them from closing deals by removing context from the lead record. It could happen when a bug derails the process of returning leads that aren’t ready to marketing for nurturing.

Regardless of the underlying technological cause, unless sales pros and marketers are already on the same page and have abandoned an adversarial approach, these glitches are seen not as technical issues with simple resolutions, but as deeper issues involving ill will between sales and marketing. If you’ve taken steps to get sales and marketing on the same page and rebuild the human connections, it will be much easier to address these problems by assuming there’s a technical issue at play and to avoid jumping to the conclusion that the other side of the sales/marketing divide has done something to cause problems.

In directing the path toward positive organizational change, awareness of the connections between sales and marketing is the first step. If you haven’t mapped out the way the two sides work with each other and the tools they use in the process, take the time to do so. Creating a visual image of the data journey that customer information takes through your organization will help you spot the connections and see where data can be added, changed or removed, and can help you pinpoint potential problem areas much faster.

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